As training camps have been underway for about a week now in preparation for the start of the season on Christmas Day, the Washington Wizards have gotten serious in their approach this year. Coming off of an injury-plagued yet still impressive rookie campaign, John Wall has come into his second year as the unquestioned leader of the team.
This is year two of the Ted Leonsis rebuild and the maturation of John Wall and the young supporting cast around him will be crucial in the development of the Wizards into a contender down the road.
With all of the comparisons made between Wall and Derrick Rose, I will make three bold predictions for Wall’s sophomore campaign in hopes that he can make that second-year jump that Wizards fans are sorely hoping for.
When you think of the assist leaders it’s hard to think that Wall could overtake the likes of Nash, Rondo and Deron Williams, who were the only three players to top double digits in assists per game last season.
But the fact of the matter is that even though Wall was an oft-injured rookie, playing on one of the worst teams in the entire NBA, he ended up tied for sixth place in assists per game at 8.3.
Wall is an instinctive passer with great speed and court vision, which allows him to draw in defenders while making the proper pass. However, his turnover numbers were expectedly high because of his breakneck pace, which led to many errant passes and broken plays.
This training camp, Wall has shown the ability to play within the confines of the offense, which will allow him to keep a steady pace and reduce his turnovers while increasing the good opportunities he can make for teammates.
If the progress he’s shown so far in training camp translates during the season, there isn’t much reason to believe that he can’t make the leap as one of the elite passers in the league.
On paper, Wall has every trait needed to be an elite defensive stopper: good size, long arms, lateral agility and great instincts. However, in his rookie season, Wall took a while to adjust to the faster pace in the NBA and was oftentimes left flat-footed on defense.
He has already made strides in some aspects, averaging nearly two steals per game, but with the team’s focus on defense this year, I believe Wall has what it takes to become a complete defensive player while also putting up exceptional statistics for a point guard, as I see him averaging a block a game next season.
Since there are only two teams for All-Defensive Honors, it would take a lot for him to break into that elite company so early on in his career. With this in mind, being in the conversation for these honors would mean a huge step in the right direction for a player who is typically known for his offensive abilities alone.
I typically don’t put as much weight in individual statistics as others, since they can oftentimes be misleading, depending on how good the team is surrounding a player, etc. For John Wall, however, leading the league in triple-doubles would really showcase his evolution into one of the elite all-around players, which his potential has given us glimpses of for some time.
Wall had one triple-double in his rookie campaign last year while flirting with several more throughout the season. His maturation as a player and comfort in the league in his second year should lead to a rise in his performance and stats across the board.
Considering that LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Andre Iguodala and Russell Westbrook were at the top of the league in triple-doubles last season, Wall would be joining exceptional company.
LeBron James, as hated as he is, has proven to be the most versatile player in the NBA. John Wall is a once-in-a-generation player like LeBron, and with his arsenal of abilities, he too should be in the conversation of the most versatile player in the league when all is said and done after the season.