The NBA leader in touches per game is Wizards point guard John Wall, and that's for good reason. They can't win without him, especially with Bradley Beal out injured, and he has to do even more than usual. That means more scoring, assisting, ball-handling and turnovers.
Wall has posted three consecutive games of seven turnovers, but they were able to overcome them in Saturday's 105-99 win at the Orlando Magic when he also had 24 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Wall averages 98.4 touches per game, according to the NBA's player tracking data from SVU, far more than Chris Paul (85.6), Stephen Curry (84.8) and even the ball-dominant James Harden (83.1). But how long does Wall possess the ball per touch? It's 4.19 seconds, which is 46th longest. That means Wall, who is second in the league with 9.6 assists, moves it. A lot.
After a deflating, 97-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday, coach Randy Wittman wasn't about to put the blame at the feet of his point guard who was named December player of the month in the East by the league. Garrett Temple has had a career season already with four games of 20 points or more in place of Beal. Jared Dudley is shooting 45.1% from three-point range, the best of his career since 2009-10 with the Phoenix Suns when he shot 45.8% with Steve Nash.
Wittman saw the issue in that game as bigger than Wall who didn't have anyone running the floor with him consistently.
"We weren’t really committed to running," Wittman said. "It’s hard to run for 48 minutes. If you’re not committed your going to take jogs down the court rather than sprints to the corner like you’re supposed to to spread to floor to create driving angles. There’s a lot of times I thought we changed our style of play to walk the ball up rather than run."
Even when Beal was playing he had miscommunication with Wall over running to the right spots on the floor. At times, the ball would be delivered anticipating a teammate would run into a certain spot in the way a quarterback throws a receiver open in football. Other times, like Wall did in the fourth quarter in Orlando, he'll try a risky, behind-the-back pass in traffic to Marcin Gortat that would arrive at the big man's ankles.
"Some of them will be right there, backdoor, it hits their hands, they go out of bounds," Wall said. "I think I'm making the right reads. Sometimes we drop them. A couple of them are my fault. Give credit to the defense, I try to make a skip pass (to the weak side), they got their hands up. ... I try to make the right play if it's there and I feel like we can score off it. Sometimes we lose the ball. Sometimes it's a bad pass by me.
"If it's turnovers like that I can deal with it. It's the ones when I'm just trying to do too much and put myself in bad situations are the more frustrating ones."
Wall has fewer weapons to work with than Harden, who is No. 1 in the league with 4.6 turnovers per game, and Russell Westbrook is third at 4.3. Wall is No. 2 at 4.5.
The rest of the top five are Rajon Rondo and Paul George (3.9), players who are offensive initiators for their teams. So while Wall's turnovers can be alarming at times, he's at least in elite company.
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