The Wizards are just 10-12 so far this season and have taken a step back as a team defensively from last season. Even though their record puts them at 11th in the Eastern Conference, they may not be as bad as their record indicates.
In order for the Wizards to get out of their early season funk, it's obvious that John Wall must step up to the occasion, especially now. The frontcourt is depleted where Nene and Drew Gooden are nursing calf injuries. Bradley Beal is now out for at least two weeks due to another right fibula stress reaction. And Alan Anderson has still yet to play a game to fill in the wing rotation.
The good news is that Wall has stepped his game in the month of December. But Wall is also playing some of the best basketball in his career. In fact, he's performing at an MVP level. Let's take a look at his numbers and just how good it is compared with the league.
Wall's raw numbers
Here's a visual representation to show Wall's per game production separated into three categories: October and November games, December only games, and season averages. With the exception of blocks, Wall's numbers have improved in nearly every other category:
If you want the actual numbers along with some field goal percentages and usage rates, here's a table of the same data:
|October & November 2015||16.1||3.5||7.6||1||2.1||4.3||39%||28.80%||27%||-2.8|
Of the statistical areas where he improved, I'm most impressed with Wall's shooting efficiency. In December 2015, he made over 54 percent of his shots, and over 45 percent of his three pointers.
Wall's improved shooting efficiency isn't because he's taking considerably fewer shots from deep. In October and November, he attempted 4.2 threes a game while in December, he attempted 4.1 threes a game. The .1 shot difference is a wash. He's just shooting a lot better from there right now.
Consequently, his shot chart for October and November 2015
versus his shot chart for December 2015
look like night and day.
How Wall's December ranks against the NBA
Here's how Wall's December performance stacks up against other players in the league in the same timeframe after sorting some stats at NBA.com:
- Wall has the most double doubles of all NBA players in December 2015 with six. In fact, he was just one assist away from seven double doubles since he had 9 assists and 17 points on December 4 against the Phoenix Suns. Wall was also one rebound away from a triple double last Wednesday in the loss to the Houston Rockets when he scored 26 points, dished 12 assists, and grabbed 9 rebounds.
- Wall is third in scoring at 27.3 ppg. Only Warriors guard Stephen Curry (34.5) and Cavaliers forward LeBron James (29.8) have averaged more points. That said, Curry has only played six games and James has only played four. Wall played eight games this month, which makes his performance just that more impressive.
- Wall is sixth in the NBA for overall shooting percentage (54.6 percent) among players who attempted at least ten shots per game. The five players ranked above him from first to fifth are fellow Wizard Marcin Gortat, Greg Monroe (Bucks), Allen Crabbe (Trail Blazers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), and Dwyane Wade (Heat). What makes Wall's ranking impressive here is that most of the players on this list are low post players or don't take many three point shots. Wall has also attempted 19 shots a game in December, considerably more than any player ranked above him.
- Wall is eighth in the NBA for three point shooting percentage (45.5 percent) among players who attempted at least four threes per game. Wall has never been known as an elite three point shooter. But he still can make threes when he has to. Getting in the top ten for a list that includes Curry and his Warriors backcourt mate Klay Thompson is impressive. When Wall is taking and making catch and shoot threes consistently, it's just another indication that he is adding new dimensions to his game.
- Wall is second in the NBA for assists per game (10.9). The assist is Wall's stat of preference if you know what I mean. He's only behind Kings guard Rajon Rondo in that department, while Clippers guard Chris Paul is close behind with 10.5 per game. However, both guards only played five and four games respectively this month, so these averages are more susceptible to change.
John Wall: told y'all he can imitate anyone anytime! https://t.co/eBBhNq1O5A— Albert L. (@aleeinthedmv) December 13, 2015
John Wall with his Bradley Beal impression. https://t.co/wIjAydpE4A— Albert L. (@aleeinthedmv) December 13, 2015
If you're a Mystics fan, John Wall has now done his Ivory Latta impression https://t.co/38WC5fLr5M— Albert L. (@aleeinthedmv) December 13, 2015
It took a little longer than we would have liked given his lackluster start this season. But John Wall is playing the best basketball we have seen from him in his career at a time where we need him the most given the current injuries on the roster.
The Wizards' current record certainly has room for improvement. But with multiple players out, especially Beal, the Wizards need someone to pick up the slack. Wall's core strength may lie with the assist, but it's encouraging to see that he is also developing into the Wizards' undisputed first scoring option as well.
If he can continue this type of performance for the rest of the regular season and the Wizards earn a third straight playoff appearance, we won't be talking about whether Wall should be a perennial starter in the All-Star Game.
We would be talking about him as a legitimate MVP candidate instead.