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Checklist for Washington Wizards' John Wall to Make "The Leap" This Season

Point guard John Wall is looking to finally become an All Star, while leading the Washington Wizards to the playoffs in the meantime.
Point guard John Wall is looking to finally become an All Star, while leading the Washington Wizards to the playoffs in the meantime.Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images
Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IOctober 22, 2013

John Wall is talking and acting like he's the best player on a potential playoff team. But before the Washington Wizards and Wall get there, he needs to work on four major things. 

Health is obviously a big factor here, but assuming he plays all 82 games (and hopefully more), Wall needs to make improvements in his game if he wants to break into the upper echelon of point guards in the NBA

If he can do these four things, and the players around him can stay healthy, there's no doubt the Wizards will be a playoff team this year, and potentially one that doesn't just exit in the first round. 


Develop a better mid-range jumper

This has always been a problem for Wall, who was criticized for his jump shot heading into the NBA draft in 2010. 

He has improved in that category every year since coming into the NBA, but if Wall wants to become an elite point guard, it needs to get even better. 

Wall virtually has no three-pointer, attempting less than one per game, and only shooting 36 percent between 16 and 23 feet in 50 games last season, according to Hoopdata

Until he is able to break that 40 percent shooting mark from that range, Wall will continue to be ranked below some of the other top point guards in the league. 

If he wants to make an All-Star team this year, Wall should start comparing himself to other top guys. 

Kyrie Irving, who Wall is constantly compared to, shot 45 percent last season between 16 and 23 feet, and Rajon Rondo shot 48 percent in the 38 games he played last season with the Boston Celtics, according to Hoopdata

When he follows through on his jumper, Wall is much better than when he gives in to his tendency to end his shooting motion early. 

If he can start to become a significant threat from that 16-23 foot range, he has every reason to be considered as good, if not better, than Irving. 


Continue to drive to the hoop

As he continues to improve his jumper, it's also important for Wall to not get away from his bread-and-butter of driving to the basket. 

With the basketball, Wall is one of the fastest players in the league, and is a blur going by defenders when he finds a lane. 

John Wall took the majority of his shots from under the rim last season, and needs to continue to focus on that part of his game if he wants to be successful (via Vorped).
John Wall took the majority of his shots from under the rim last season, and needs to continue to focus on that part of his game if he wants to be successful (via Vorped).

According to Vorped, 37.2 percent of all the shots that Wall attempted last year were taken at the rim, a position that Hoopdata shows he shot 60.5 percent at. 

To get back to the All Star comparisons, Irving shot 59.2 percent at the rim, while Rondo shot 62.1 percent. 

When Wall gets going, it's tough for defenders to stop him, so this should continue to be the focal point of his game. 


Cut out turnovers on jump passes

One of Wall's infamous moves is the jump pass that often results in a turnover. 

As the video below, created by SB Nation's Mike Prada, shows, Wall will often jump up and will try to make a decision mid-air. 

When he does this, Wall has a tendency to turn the ball over while making a haste decision because he only has a half of a second to decide to do something with the ball. 

Wall turned the ball over 3.2 times a game last season, which is down from the 3.8 he averaged his rookie year and his 3.9 average in his second season. 

During the month of February, according to ESPN, Wall played in 14 games and turned the ball over an average of four times per game. 

Wall's turnover average this year was the eighth highest in the NBA, and in the Wizards' low-scoring offense, turnovers are even more exaggerated. 

Just cutting down the turnovers to two per game would be a huge improvement, and could easily happen if Wall would make better on-the-spot decisions. 


Improve his transition defense

The Wizards are clearly going with a defense-first approach, and are going to be falling back on that in games this season when they cannot score enough points. 

This will be even more important for the first month (or maybe even more) with Emeka Okafor out indefinitely

As this other Mike Prada-created video shows, Wall will oftentimes take too long to get back on defense. While this is just one example, there were a number of times last season when Wall was completely out of the defensive play following a Wizards scoring possession.

Wall isn't the best defensive point guard, but he simply needs to be involved on defense if he wants to become an elite point guard. This is mostly a matter of hustle, and having him pick up a rebound or more per game would greatly improve the Wizards' crunch-time play. 


Some of these things have been reoccurring themes throughout Wall's career, but if he can finally put it all together, while playing a complete season, Wall will no longer be left out of the conversation of the top five or six point guards in the NBA.  

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