After John Wall scored a career-high 47 points last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, many Washington Wizards fans are left wondering how many more wins the team would have if Wall was healthy all season.
The starting point guard missed the first 33 games of the season with a right knee injury, but has since been the best player for Washington next to Bradley Beal.
With Wall back in the lineup Washington has been a solid team in the Eastern Conference, proving that if he was healthy for the entire season, the Wizards could have been a playoff contender.
During the 33 games that Wall missed, Washington only won five games. Since then, Wall hasn’t missed a single game, and the Wizards have a 26-44 record, making them 21-16 with him in the lineup.
With a record like that, it’s hard to say that with Wall healthy at the beginning of the year, Washington couldn’t be right up there with the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth seed in the East. The Bucks currently have a losing record at 34-35 in the eighth seed, followed by the Boston Celtics with a 36-33 record at the seventh seed.
That means during the 33-game stretch that Wall missed the Wizards would have needed to win eight more games in order to be in contention for the eighth and final seed in the NBA playoffs.
Wall’s addition to the lineup during that stretch certainly would have given Washington those eight wins.
At the very beginning of the season Washington started out with 12 straight losses, three of them coming in overtime to the Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Bobcats. It’s hard to say that Wall’s presence wouldn’t have put Washington over the edge in those contests, especially with Shaun Livingston starting at point guard.
Livingston only averaged 5.3 points and 1.8 assists per game in the month of November, and 2.8 points and 2.5 assists per game in December with Washington.
With Wall averaging 16.8 points and 7.6 assists per game this season, it’s safe to say that he would have boosted Washington’s offense, giving them the ability to pull through in those three overtime game.
Excluding those overtime games, that just leaves five wins out of 30 games that the Wizards would have needed to get to 34 at this point in the year.
After the 12-game losing streak, Washington had two losses against the Detroit Pistons, one against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and one against the Orlando Magic, all teams who currently have worse records than the Wizards.
It’s more than within the realm of possibility to think that Wall’s presence on the court would have given Washington wins in those games, and the potential to win any of the 17 games they played within the 33-game stretch that they lost by seven or less points.
This certainly isn’t saying that Wall is capable of putting up 30 or more points in every game, but he certainly could have performed better than any player Washington had filling in at point guard.
While the next-best player on the team, Bradley Beal, has been in and out of the lineup with injuries throughout the year, a healthy Wall makes the Wizards just as good as the Bucks.
There’s not enough talent on Washington’s roster to propel them to the status of the Chicago Bulls at the fifth seed, but Wall would have made a major difference during those first 33 games.
Had John Wall not missed the first part of the season, would the Wizards be playoff contenders?
Wall has been taking over games for the Wizards, and has had the game-high in scoring in seven games this year. During his 33-game absence, the only other players to do that for the Wizards are Nenê and Jordan Crawford, who is now with the Celtics.
Besides the point production, Wall brings leadership to an otherwise extremely young and inexperienced roster.
While this is only Wall’s third year in the league, he still is the leader of this team, and without him the team mainly only had Nenê and Emeka Okafor to look toward for any sort of leadership.
Now with Wall in the lineup, Washington has a true leader and had they had that leader, along with his point production during the first part of the season, they could easily be in the playoff conversation today.
Had Wall been healthy all year, Washington would currently have 35 wins, and by the end of the season would have 41 wins, putting them at .500 for the season.