Over the past few weeks, John Hollinger has been releasing his player projections for each team on ESPN Insider. We've linked to his projections for this year's team a couple times in the links. All in all, there's nothing too bold in this year's projections (moderate improvements for the youngsters, moderate declines for the veterans) but something caught my eye when I re-read his projections this morning.
If you check out Hollinger's statistical projections, he has John Wall projected to average 20.1 points, 9.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds per 40 minutes this season. Should Wall reach that kind of production this year, he would join an elite group of players to average 20 points, 9 assists and 5 rebound per 40 minutes in a season. Only nine players in NBA history have reached that mark and only three (Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook) have managed to pull it off in the last twenty years.
Of course, when Hollinger was putting this projection together, I'm sure he didn't factor in Wall's knee injury that will sideline him for the start of the season. If Wall struggles to return to form, when he returns, there's no chance he'll get to the 20/9/5 level. But assuming he returns fully healthy, Wall isn't as far off the 20/9/5 pace as you might think. Last season, he averaged 5 rebounds per 40 minutes, so he should be fine in that regard. He was only .1 assist shy of 9 per 40 minutes last season, so that shouldn't be an issue either. The roster upgrades by themselves should be enough to get Wall over 9 per 40 without any internal development from Wall.
As it always is, the big question mark for Wall will be with shooting. Last season, he averaged 18.0 points per 40, so he needs to bump that average up a full two points this season to get to that 20/9/5 group. The easiest and quickest way for him to get to a 20 point average is by making his jump shot a weapon, but even if that doesn't come completely into fruition this season, having more shooting help should give him better spacing to get into the paint this season.
I'm not telling you anything you new when I say Wall's jumper is what keeps him from being a superstar, but hopefully this serves as a little reminder of how good it could get if he can make that jumper work.
Other highlights from Hollinger's Projections
- Regarding Nene, Hollinger said he "still played at a near All-Star level that made him worth every cent of his contract ... when he played." Remember this when Nene isn't playing in the preseason.
- Hollinger called Seraphin's development "the most encouraging thing about Washington's largely forgettable season."
- He said A.J. Price's numbers were "perfect acceptable" except for his shooting averages.
- Players who Hollinger projects will have higher PERs than last season: Jordan Crawford, Shelvin Mack, A.J. Price, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, John Wall, Martell Webster
- Players who Hollinger projects will have lower PERs than last season: Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Nene, Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin