John Wall has carried the Wizards all season. When Bradley Beal was out, Wall was basically the only source of offense the Wizards could find.
After the All-Star break, when the offense was stagnating, Wall created his own shots by driving to the hoop, and found his teammates shots.
Now, in the first round of the playoffs, it's time for Wall to carry the Wizards once again.
On the other side of the court, he'll be going up against Kyle Lowry, an All Star himself and a carrier of teams in his own right. It's very likely that the whichever point guard has a better series will see his team move on to the second round.
Here's how Wall and Lowry stack up.
As a shooter, Lowry has the edge here. Check out both of their shot charts from this season, per StatMuse.
Lowry is a much better three-point shooter right now than Wall, and he takes that shot far more often. On the season, Lowry shot 33.8 percent from beyond the arc, while Wall failed to break 30 percent from there.
However, Wall was much better at driving to the basket and finishing, and he did it far more often than Lowry. Wall also has a better mid-range shot than Lowry, but Wall took it far too often which was far detrimental to his team. That's not necessarily Wall's fault, a lot of it falls on Randy Wittman's awful offense.
Toronto had the third most efficient offense this season, per ESPN's John Hollinger's ratings, while Washington finished the regular season ranked 19th.
As an individual, Wall had a much larger impact on the offense than Lowry did. Per Basketball-Reference.com's on/off statistics, the Raptors' offensive rating actually improved by two points when Lowry wasn't on the floor, while Washington's offensive rating improved by five points with Wall on the floor than off it.
Obviously this doesn't mean that Lowry is a bad offensive player, but Wall certainly just does more to help his team. It's also worth pointing out that Wall and Lowry's usage ratings are about the same (25.4 for Lowry and 26.1 for Wall).
At times Wall really is the only offensive option for the Wizards, especially if Bradley Beal is cold from three.
It's safe to say that Wall is the more "valuable" offensive player to his team, but because of Lowry's ability to shoot the three, he has 5.1 offensive win shares this season compared to just 3.6 for Wall. I'm going to cop out here and say it's a push between the two.
Both guys are effective on offense, just in different ways.
This isn't eve close. Wall is the far better defender.
Washington worked its way up to the fifth most efficient defense, and a lot of that credit falls to Wall. There hasn't really been a dominant Wizard on defense this season, but Wall is the closest thing to it that they have right now.
Here's how some of their key defensive numbers stack up this season, per 36 minutes where applicable.
Lowry isn't necessarily a liability on defense by any stretch, but Wall is the guy I'd want guarding the other team's best guard each game. For the Raptors, who have the eighth least efficient defense, Lowry certainly isn't the dominant defender on their roster, but it's also not like Toronto is stacked with defensive stoppers.
Wall does lose to Lowry at the rim, though. Lowry is holding opponents to 50.3 percent shooting at the rim this season, while wall is allowing them to shoot 52.3, per NBA.com's player tracking data.
Wall is also a much faster player than Lowry. With his quick hands and higher steal rate, he can capitalize on more fastbreak opportunities. Lowry can as well, but Wall does so at a more effective rate and in a quicker manner.
How they've fared against each other
Wall and Lowry have faced off against each other 15 times. Wall has only one four of those games.
Since the start of the 2014 calendar year, they've faced off six times, and Wall came out on the losing side in five of those contests.
When looking at these head-to-head matchups, some of the same trends show up. Per Basketball-Reference.com's play index, here's how the two have performed when they go head-to-head.
No real surprises here. Lowry is a better three-point shooter, but Wall's defense has an impact on Lowry's overall shooting, holding him to under 40 percent in these games. Other than that it's about a wash statistically speaking.
In this playoff series, Lowry will need to stop Wall from getting to the rim, while Wall will need to step up his perimeter defense.
The Wizards have been notoriously bad this season against teams that can shoot the three. Toronto is tied for eighth in the league in threes made per game, while Washington is tied for 26th. If Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are able to get going from deep, the Wizards are going to have a tough time keeping up on the offensive end.
Not that this is any sort of a secret, but the Wizards are only going to go as far as John Wall will take them. Given how these two teams match up elsewhere, it's safe to say it'll be a competitive series, but if Wall out-plays Lowry, the Wizards have to have an edge.