The Third Year: A John Wall 2012-2013 Season Preview

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 11: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards drives against John Lucas III #15 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As John Wall goes, so go the Wizards. What does 2012-2013 have in store for Washington's franchise player?

John Wall enters his third professional season in uncharted territory, with team management having finally surrounded him with no-nonsense youngsters and utterly professional veterans. Washington is built to compete for a low playoff seed this season and their success or failure largely depends on Wall. While past teams were heavily reliant on Wall to create offense both for himself and his teammates, the additions of Nene Hilario and Bradley Beal along with the emerging post game of Kevin Seraphin have perfectly positioned Wall to play to his strengths as a pass-first point guard and make the leap from potential star to superstar.

Offense Wall continued to score at a respectable clip last season, averaging 16.2 points per 36 minutes with a reasonable level of efficiency. Despite Washington's poor spacing - Cartier Martin, Chris Singleton, and Roger Mason Jr. were the team's only decent three point shooters - Wall still managed to get to the basket at will, feasting on layups and backdoor cuts (62% shooting at the rim as per Hoopdata) and drawing loads of fouls. Unfortunately, he still hasn't developed an outside shot, as he made only 7%(!) of his three point attempts. Even worse, he made less than 30% of his two pointers that weren't at the rim, meaning that it's unlikely that he'll expand his range enough this year for his jumper to be considered a threat.

Wall's lack of a consistent jump shot affects more than his scoring. Despite his elite quickness and solid handle, he only finished 128th in the league in points per possession as a pick and roll ball handler. This was largely because defenders could go under the picks that were set for him without having to worry about him nailing an open jumper. This hurt his ability to create shots for his teammates, in particular the team's athletic big men and spot up three point shooters. He should improve this season due to better screens as a result of Javale McGee having been replaced with Nene and Emeka Okafor, but his ceiling as a pick and roll guard is limited as long as he isn't a threat to hit a 15 footer.

Despite his pick and roll troubles, Wall is still one of the best playmakers in the league. While he still commits too many turnovers, he averaged 8 assists per 36 minutes while playing with a number of offensively-challenged teammates. He has great court vision and should continue to improve his drive and kick game now that snipers Bradley Beal and Martell Webster will be hanging out behind the three point line.

Defense Young perimeter players tend to struggle defensively, but Wall is already well on his way to becoming an elite defender. At 6'4 with a long wingspan, great motor, and elite quickness, Wall has incredible physical tools and has only scratched the surface of his defensive potential. Wall was a great ball hawk last year, averaging 1.4 steals per 36 minutes, and blocked more shots, many of them Lebron James-esque chasedowns, on a per minute basis than any guard other than Dwyane Wade. While MySynergySports ranked him only 257th in the league as a defender last year, this was largely a result of the Wizards' poor rotations and inexperience in addition to his own growing pains. Wall was nonetheless solid last year and should be great this coming season, due to both his own development and the Wizards' improved team defense as a result of the Nene, Okafor and Trevor Ariza acquisitions.

Wall is also an excellent rebounder for a guard, pulling down 4.5 boards per 36 minutes last year. He might not grab quite as many this year if Beal plays a lot of minutes - there are only so many boards to go around - but due to his size and athleticism, Wall will most likely continue to be one of the league's best rebounding point guards.

Outlook Washington is hoping that 2013 is a breakout year for Wall, but his statistical projection - based largely on the relative improvements of similar players at the same age - isn't extremely optimistic. He'll be a better defender and should score a little bit more, but his basic statistics aren't what really matter. Washington has a lot of great finishers and a few good shooters, but almost all of Wall's supporting cast will require him to create good shots for them. Beal and Jordan Crawford might be able to take over some of Wall's playmaking duties, but both are far more effective playing off of a great floor general. Wall should be that player, but without improvements to his jump shot, he'll only be able to take the Wizards so far.

Best case scenario Improves his jump shot to league average levels, is named an all star reserve, and leads Washington to their first playoff appearance since 2008.

Worst case scenario Continues to struggle to score outside of the paint, regresses as a defender, and rumblings about his impending free agency dominate the local news as Washington fails to crack the 30 win barrier.

Statistics, per 36 minutes

Season

FGA

FG%

3PA

3P%

FTA

FT%

ORB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PTS

2010-11

13.4

.41

1.6

.30

5.4

.77

0.5

4.4

7.9

1.7

0.5

3.6

15.6

2011-12

13.5

.42

0.6

.07

6.1

.79

0.7

4.5

8.0

1.4

0.9

3.8

16.2

2013 (projected)

14.0

.43

0.7

.07

6.5

.79

0.8

4.6

7.5

1.5

1.0

3.6

17.3

Most Similar at Age 21: Russell Westbrook

A Note On The Projected Statistics: These projected 2012-13 stats for Wall are based on a similarity score for 21-year-old guards based on a couple of advanced stats and height. I took the ten most similar players and found the percentage change from when they were 21 to 22 in terms of per 36 minute stats, then assumed Wall would change at the same rate from last year to this year.

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