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Daily Digits: Getting respect on foul calls is John Wall’s White Whale

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Portland Trail Blazers v Washington Wizards Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we take a look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add some context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is the number of fouls John Wall draws per game, which is...


Of all the things to be upset about after Sunday’s loss to the Blazers, John Wall appeared to be most upset about ... free throws.

Wall is no stranger to complaining about foul calls. It’s come up plenty of times during his career. Frankly, he’s usually at his worst as a decision maker when he gets caught up in trying get make-up calls for what he perceives as an imbalance in who is getting calls and who isn’t, because he’ll try to force contact to get a call rather than try to find the real mismatches on the court.

That said, he may have a point this time around. This season, Wall is 37th in fouls drawn per game. Last season, he was 17th even though he was dealing with injuries most of the season. The year before, when he earned All-NBA honors, he was 14th.

He’s getting less calls even though he’s attacking the rim just as much as ever. This season he’s averaging 16.7 drives per game. Last season, it was 15.4 drives per game. The year before? 16.9 per game.

If you believe stars get certain calls other players don’t, the data here does a good job of supporting that theory. Unfortunately, it also suggests Wall’s star power is starting to fade, which could set off a destructive cycle if he isn’t careful. Wall may not be able to control whether or not he gets the same calls as Damian Lillard, but if he gets dragged into nightly battles to prove who can get more star calls, it’s going to get harder for him to maintain and build upon his star image as everything else crumbles around him.