The John Wall Era started with so much promise as the franchise looked to move on from the decline of Gilbert Arenas’ time as the Wizards franchise player. With Wall as the new face of the franchise, and Ted Leonsis taking over as the new owner, it looked like the tide was turning for the Wizards.
Though there have been some bumps in Wall’s first six years, Wizards fans have also gotten to see the team reach highs the franchise hadn’t reached in decades. Here’s a look at the five best moments of the Wall era to date:
5. Wizards sweep the Raptors out of the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs
Perhaps one of the most shocking first-round sweeps in recent memory, the Wizards were viewed as big underdogs coming into their first round matchup with Toronto. The Raptors were 6-1 against Washington over the past two years going into the series. The Wizards’ lone win was a triple-overtime thriller.
In the playoffs, everything changed. The Wizards dismantled the Raptors by changing their offense, using Paul Pierce as a “stretch 4” and attempting more threes. After averaging 16.8 attempts per game during regular season, they toook 24.3 attempts per game during this series. Toronto had no answer for Washington’s new scheme and the Wizards cruised to an easy series victory which they got to celebrate the final win on their home floor.
The series will also be remembered as Otto Porter’s breakout performance. He received regular rotational minutes for the first time, and he responded by shooting 55.6 percent from the field while playing stellar defense against Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan.
4. Wizards clinch first playoff berth of Wall era (04/02/2014)
The Wizards were able to make the first major step in their rebuild during the John Wall era by making it to the playoffs. This was their first trip to the playoffs since they were knocked out of the playoffs in 2008.
3. John Wall goes for career-high 47 points versus Memphis Grizzlies (03/25/2013)
Check out the stat line: 47 points on 13-22 shooting, 19-24 from the free throw line, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and only 2 turnovers
You couldn’t have played a better game than John did, and to this day this was his most dominant performance. But it was also one of the most important performances of his career. Wall missed the first 29 games of the season. As a result, the Wizards got off to an 0-12 start. When Wall finally returned, he struggled and the team continued to falter.
But thanks to an infamous conversation that he had with Emeka Okafor things started to change. In March 2013, Wall turned his season and his career around. He capped off his big turnaround month with his career-best game against the Grizzlies:
Wall hasn’t looked back since, earning All-Star appearances in each of his next three seasons.
2. Wizards defeat Chicago Bulls in first round of 2014 NBA Playoffs
The Wizards entered their first playoff series of the John Wall era as big underdogs. Most pundits thought the 48-win Bulls, who came into the series with years of playoff experience, would make easy work of the Wizards.
"experts" #dcRising pic.twitter.com/0QuS3bsHVl— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 30, 2014
Washington shocked the NBA world with a 4-1 series victory. The win marked a huge step in the John Wall era, showing that the team was capable of being competitive in a playoff series despite such a young, inexperienced core group of players.
1. ‘I Called Game’
The Wizards looked like a team on the rise in the 2015 playoffs, as they won their first five playoff games; sweeping the Toronto Raptors in the first round, and then claiming Game 1 of their series with the Hawks on Atlanta’s floor. But their Game 1 victory came at as cost, as John Wall fractured his hand in the win.
With Wall on the shelf, Atlanta was able to win Game 2. With a pivotal Game 3 on hand, the Wizards needed a victory at home to keep home court advantage and to prevent the Hawks from gaining momentum. Through the first three quarters, it looked like the Wizards were well on their way, with an 85-66 lead going into the fourth. But the Hawks’ second unit sparked a late run to get Atlanta back into the game and tie things up.
Washington only had one chance to stop the bleeding before the game would go into overtime. With under 6 seconds left, Bradley Beal fed the ball to Paul Pierce, who was being guarded by a much smaller Dennis Schroder, and the rest is history:
The roar of the crowd, the jubilation of the players including a suit-laden John Wall going crazy, and a classic one liner in the post-game interview made this an unforgettable memory for many Wizards fans.
- John Wall is voted in as an NBA All-Star Star for the First Time
- John Wall wins the NBA Slam Dunk Contest
- Wizards defeat reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat (Big 3 Era) for second win of the season after starting the season 0-12 in the 2012-13 season
Statistics provided by NBA.com/STATS