John Wall's improvement checklist

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

We take notice of all the things John Wall said he worked on this summer.

WASHINGTON -- As John Wall goes, so goes the Wizards. This has been the case since he first put on a Washington jersey three years ago and has only become more true as the team has been built and grown around him.

Washington looked terrible until Wall returned from injury last season. Once he became settled in with his new teammates, though, the floodgates opened and Wall and the team itself looked, if not quite elite, then at the very least competent. And, now that another lottery pick has been added to the mix and Wall is another year older, tangible results are becoming more important than positive signs. People around this team want to win and win now.

Everyone associated with the team seems to be talking about the playoffs as their primary goal for the season. Wall is no different.

"I got a lot of expectations (for this season) but I keep them to myself. The big one is the playoffs," Wall said on media day.

As idealistic as that sounds, Wall is Washington's best player and, unless he continues to improve upon his performance from last season, they won't make the playoffs. But what about in terms of his personal performance? Wall said he's looking to solidify the improvements he made to his half-court scoring attack as well as improve his defense.

Defensively, Wall was more sizzle than steak last year, with his high rates of blocks and steals (he blocked shots at the same rate as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade last year) offset by his tendency to ball watch, leading to open shots for his man and defensive breakdowns for his team. Unlike many young players who appear more excited to discuss their new go-to offensive move or  latest offseason purchases, Wall emphasized his work toward becoming more fundamentally sound on defense as well as his time spent watching game film.

"The biggest challenge is defensively. Just getting over pick and rolls better ... Iso situations, learning how to play better and sending guys to the help defense and learning how to close out," he said,

Offensively, Wall can be a terror in isolation situations due to his first step and ball handling ability. If his jumper remains consistent and he can develop another go-to move, he could very quickly become an elite scorer. With his size and the presence of Sam Cassell, one of the greatest post up point guards of all time, on the coaching staff, Wall could at least in theory become an excellent player on the block, especially as the NBA continues to get smaller and faster.

"(I worked on) my jump shot, I keep improving that, and my floater, and just becoming more active on defense," Wall said.

On his post-up game: "I worked on it a lot, my trainer was just here yesterday. Hopefully Coach [Wittman] will call some plays and I can get into the post."

One area of his game that Wall hasn't prioritized improving is his three-point shot. Wall has been working on it on his own all summer and with the Washington coaching staff in particular since early August. Numerous analysts have made it appear to be a must-have tool for a point guard, but Wall is currently more concerned with solidifying his midrange jumper than becoming the next Mo Williams.

"I don't really think it's the three that's really going to open up my game but it'd be great to add that to my game. I feel like just being able to knock down midrange [jumpers] and make it tough in pick and roll situations when guys got to go over the top instead of going underneath," Wall said.

A former number one pick with a maximum contract who's just entering his prime, Wall is as good a bet as any Wizard in recent memory to have a breakout season. He's doing all the right things, saying all the right things and the team clearly believes in him. And in about a month, we're finally going to find what it all adds up to.

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