Washington Wizards Report Card: Is John Wall Acing His Freshman Year in the NBA?
There is not much to be especially excited about in the nation's capital these days. The Redskins are a mess, the Nationals continue to over-reach as they try to get out of the NL East cellar and the Wizards are 8-25, just a game from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Yet, like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, John Wall has Washington sports fans eagerly looking toward a future they believe will be brighter than the present.
Wall is already the leader of this team. That is both a good and a bad thing: While it's great to hand him the reins as soon as possible, there are sure to be growing pains. The team strived to surround Wall with some players who can score and take pressure off him, and the team looks poised to get much better over the next few years.
For now, though, read on for a full report card on the Wizards' key individual contributors up to this point in the season.
Armstrong plays limited minutes, but he has appeared in 29 of the team's 33 games and adds depth on the low block. He has length and athleticism, though not much in the way of muscle, and he defends well enough to justify floor time even when he loses his shooting touch down low, which happens pretty often.
Overall, Armstrong is not a key piece to a winning team, but he has not hurt the Wizards this season when they have asked him to provide solid minutes in the key.
Overall Grade: C-minus
You aren't likely to win too much with Blatche as your leading scorer, but Blatche has emerged as a much better player in a full-time starting role this season. Defense had been a weakness in his game, but Blatche is averaging 1.4 steals and eight rebounds per game this season. His 16.4 points per contest looks good, although a middling field-goal percentage and too many turnovers make those points a bit less impressive.
Overall grade: B
The Wizards' less heralded rookie, Booker has played limited minutes thus far, but has actually looked pretty good. He has snagged an average of 2.4 rebounds in roughly a third of a starter's minutes so far, and has poured in 3.8 points per game with a field-goal percentage above 51 percent.
He is big and strong and athletic, but must polish his game on both ends of the floor to reach his full potential as a power forward.
Overall grade: B
In his first pro season outside Chicago, Hinrich is having his best season since 2007. His field-goal percentage, scoring and assist average are all at three-year highs, though he has struggled from beyond the three-point arc this season.
Hinrich is one of those guys who runs up stats at times without having high impact, but he and Wall make up a very talented backcourt in Washington.
Overall grade: B-plus
The Wizards have to have thought they were getting a lot more when they traded for Howard last season. Already, the injury bug has bitten, and he has been back for fewer than 10 games this year.
Even once he has reached the court, he has been frankly unimpressive. He has not found an offensive rhythm, missing far too many of his shots from the field, from beyond the arc and from the free-throw line. He seems lost on the floor at times, and his rebounding proclivity has seemingly evaporated, as well.
Overall grade: Incomplete
Picking up Yi this offseason actually made a good deal of sense, after he had a tremendous season in 2009-10 with the Nets. He racked up 12.6 points per game and grabbed 7.2 rebounds per contest.
Of course, he also missed 30 games, and he is well on his way to missing that many again this season. Injuries are hard to predict, it's true, but perhaps investing so much in such an injury-prone player was unwise on the Wizards' part. Still, Yi has been good when he has been on the floor and could be even better if he regains and retains full health.
Overall grade: B-minus
Struggling with Orlando during the early part of the season, Lewis has come alive in an expanded role with the Wizards since being traded. He has always been a volume guy, the sort who thrives on the chance to handle the ball frequently and stay involved on both ends of the floor.
His averages so far as a Wizard are 14 points, 7.4 rebounds and three assists per game, and he looks like a solid presence to help Wall develop and move the Wizards forward through the end of the season.
Overall grade: A-minus
What a stud this kid has a chance to be. Still two weeks shy of his 23rd birthday, McGee is a seven-footer with the athleticism of a smaller, slashing power forward. He will represent the team in the NBA Dunk Contest this season, a testament to his skill set.
He averages 9.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, figures that make him a quietly great big man at both ends of the floor. He has room to improve, but he is already Dwight Howard light, which is a heady compliment itself.
Overall grade: A-minus
Add Thornton to the long and growing list of Wizards who promise much more than they have shown so far. He has the length to be a much better defender than he has been so far, but he still has managed to make some impact on both ends of the floor.
The areas in which he can improve, though, are glaring. He must become a better passer and stop shooting from the outside, where he is clearly never going to be effective. He also must work on his rebounding, which has slipped to just 3.3 per contest this year. The raw talent is there, but this guy's ceiling is still way above his head and he is not doing the things he needs to do to reach it right now.
Overall grade: C-minus
Turnovers are a problem: Wall forks it over 3.71 times per game. In general, though, and keeping in mind that a rookie point guard always has a certain learning curve, it would be hard for the Wizards to ask for much more than they have gotten out of their top pick.
Wall leads the teams with 8.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game and even makes an impact on the defensive boards. He is not yet an efficient scorer, but he should get there as he matures over the next year or two.
Overall grade: A-minus
Young has improved as a shooter this season, and it shows: He is third on the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game. That efficiency and extra production has been great, but the Wizards need more in other facets of Young's game. Given his 6'7" frame at guard, he should be a better defender and bigger playmaker than he has been so far. He is snagging just 2.3 rebounds per game, a number upon which he must improve to help the Wizards become more physical on the boards.
Overall grade: C-plus