John Wall's Bright Future Paves Way for Washington Wizards Turnaround

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John Wall's Bright Future Paves Way for Washington Wizards Turnaround
Rob Carr/Getty Images

John Wall has arrived, the NBA has taken notice and the Washington Wizards are on the cusp of actualizing what was considered by many to be a squandered prototype.

Washington's point guard exploded against the Memphis Grizzlies for 47 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He joined Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as the only players since 1985 to post such a stat line before their 23rd birthday.

More importantly, Wall shot 59.1 percent from the floor (13-of-22) and 50 percent from behind the arc (2-of-4). Converting on just 42.4 percent of his overall attempts and 24.7 percent of his deep balls for his career, an efficient night like that is huge.

What is it not?

Isolated.

A look at some of the highlights from Wall's career night.

Since rejoining the Wizards nearly 40 games ago, Wall has made quite the splash.

He told Zach Lowe of ESPN's Grantland that he believed he was a max contract player, a notion many (including myself) immediately refuted. Past numbers said he wasn't, so he couldn't be.

Current numbers now say otherwise. But this isn't about his monetary value. This is about what he's doing now, and what he's on the precipice of doing for the Wizards.

On the season, Wall is averaging 19.1 points, 8.7 assists and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes. His 45.5 percent shooting from the floor and 31 percent three-point clip are both career highs, and his 20.1 PER puts him in the top 30 of the league and top 10 of all guards.

When you're seeking a max contract extension next season, beating out Deron Williams, the $100 million man in PER (19.4) is a good place to start.

What really stands out, though, is Wall's efficiency from the field.

As previously mentioned, he's shot just 42.7 percent from from the field for his career. And as his career shot chart will show you, he's only knocking down at least 40 percent of his attempts in three different zones.

Ugly, ugly, ugly (via NBA.com).

Ugly? Most definitely. Not a green (hot) zone in sight.

Unless we take a gander at his shot performance from this season.

A masterpiece compared to the other one (via NBA.com).

Not only is Wall shooting a career-high clip from the field, but there are now six different ares where he's connecting on at least 40 percent of his shots. And four where he's hitting on at least 50.

That's improvement. Drastic improvement.

And the Wizards are much better off for it.

Washington is 21-16 since Wall returned to the lineup. While that may not seem like much, the Wizards were 5-28 without him. Plus, in the Eastern Conference, five games over .500 puts you in the thick of the playoff picture.

Had Wall been healthy for the whole season, we could realistically be discussing a Washington faction that was on the verge of clinching a playoff berth for the first time since 2008.

I'm not kidding.

A look at how the Wizards fare with and without Wall.

The Wizards are presently scoring 100 points per 100 possessions, leaving the team dead last in offensive efficiency. Without Wall on the floor, that number is even worse (97.3). When he's on the floor, however, the Wizards are scoring 104.8 points per possessions, the equivalent of 11th in the league.

Defensively, the Wizards have been able to find success. They rank fourth in defensive efficiency, allowing just 102.4 points per 100 possessions, and Wall has helped make them even better.

When the point guard is on the sidelines, Washington is allowing 103.3 points per 100 possessions, a respectable showing and a would-be ninth best in the league. With him in the lineup, the Wizards relinquish just 101, equating to the third best mark in the league.

In other words, Wall likes to joke, but he's no joke.

He's currently on pace to become just the seventh player in NBA history to average at least 16 points, eight assists and 1.5 steals per game through the first three seasons of his career. The other six include Chris Paul, Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson, among others. Ergo, we could be in the presence of budding greatness.

Like any other youngster in the league, Wall still has plenty of improvements to make. Just like any other future All-Star, he's making them.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Wall's here, and he isn't going anywhere.

Imagine a time when Wall isn't chided for his jump shot and is instead renowned for his evolution and ability to carry the Wizards back to relevancy.

Will the Wizards make the playoffs next season?

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Then let go of that image and look toward reality. You'll come to find you no longer need to conceptualize anything, because that fictitious picture is on the brink if becoming a reality.

Wall has subtly restored hope in Washington and reinvented his image. No longer is he a "really good" prospect with some long-term potential. He's an inevitable superstar. Someone you can build around.

Someone who can carry a playoff-caliber team.

So everybody do the John Wall, because he's finally arrived, and the Wizards aren't far behind.

And like Wall, they're not going anywhere once they get here.

 

*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports, 82games.com and NBA.com unless otherwise noted.

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