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The Wizards' fortunes have certainly improved since John Wall returned to the lineup last month, but how exactly has he made the team better?
I agree with Kevin Broom that it's still too early to call John Wall a franchise savior, in spite of how the team has improved since his return. There are still plenty of flaws in his game that need to be shored up if he wants to enter the discussion of elite players.
Still, to get a better idea of where exactly Wall is doing better this season, I wanted to take a look at how the team's Four Factors have changed in the 15 games since John Wall returned (more on Four Factors here).
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise. We all know how much the Wizards' offense struggled without Wall, but it's sobering to realize improving by 6.8 points per 100 possession still doesn't get the Wizards out of the bottom-third of the league. If the Bobcats saw that big of a jump in their efficiency, they'd go from 29th to ninth, right behind the Rockets.
The Wizards' defensive success has been one of the surprising storylines this season. Even when things have been rough, Randy Wittman has been able to Wizards engaged on the defensive end. Now that they've got a full complement offensively and a chip on their shoulder, the defense has gotten scary good. And before you accuse the Wizards of padding their numbers by playing weak offenses since Wall's return, consider they've faced top-10 offenses in the Knicks, Spurs, Clippers (twice) and Nuggets, and only Denver posted an offensive efficiency above their season average when they faced the Wizards.
Pre-Wall: -8.64 (29th, only ahead of the Bobcats)
Post-Wall: +3.2 (7th, tied with the Bulls)
For the record, I don't expect the Wizards differential to stay that high. There will probably be some regression in the coming months, but again, it gives you an idea of how much better this team could have been if Wall had been healthy from the get-go.
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Pre-Wall: 46.8 percent (27th, right behind the Bulls)
Post-Wall: 50.4 percent (10th, right behind the Nuggets)
Clearly Wall has made an impact here, but his impact has been somewhat inconsistent. The team has had some stellar shooting nights since Wall has returned against Orlando, Minnesota and New York that have boosted the team's average since Wall returned, but they've also had some clunkers recently that are reminiscent of last year against Memphis, San Antonio and Philadelphia.
Pre-Wall: 13.7 percent (12th, right behind the Clippers)
Post-Wall: 14.5 percent (27th, right behind the Pacers)
Wall's turnover issues have been noted in the past, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Wizards' turnover have increased since his return. What's slightly more alarming this year is that the team's overall turnover percentage is higher with Wall than it was the previous two seasons, though Wall's individual turnover percentage is down from his previous two seasons.
Free Throw Rate
Nene is the only Wizard who averages more attempts per 36 minutes than John Wall, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Wall has boosted the team's free throw rate, though he doesn't make the team great at getting to the stripe all by himself. Wall can't make the rest of the team great at drawing fouls all by himself. This is one area that will be in need of some addressing during the off-season.
Pre-Wall: 95.2 possessions per game (11th behind the Kings)
Post-Wall: 95.4 possessions per game (9th behind Warriors)
Bet you weren't expecting that. Despite Wall's incredible end-to-end speed, Wall's fast breaks don't change the Wizards' overall profile all that much. It just goes to show that pace is still a lot more about how quickly a team creates shots in the halfcourt than how they look pushing the ball in transition.
(All stats come from HoopData, unless otherwise noted.)