Wizards

Wizards

Now that the dust has settled for the 2018-19 Wizards season, it's time to review the roster and hand out individual grades...

Who: John Wall, point guard

Age: 28

2018-19 stats: 32 G, 34.5 mpg, 20.7 ppg, 8.7 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.9 bpg, 3.8 tov, 44.4 FG%, 30.2 3P% (1.6/5.3), 49.0 eFG%, 69.7 FT% (3.8/5.5), 104 ortg, 114 drtg

2018-19 salary: $19.2M

Best game: 12/16 vs. Lakers - 40 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 16-27 FG (59.3%), 4-8 3PT, +25

Grade: C+

Season review: This past season was for many reasons one to forget for John Wall, who came into it with high hopes to put an injury-shortened 2017-18 campaign behind him. It will be remembered most for how it ended, with two surgeries on his left heel, the second to repair a ruptured left Achilles which he suffered thanks to a fall in his home. He also dealt with a series of life-changing events off the court that probably affected his job performance and, if that is the case, understandably.

So, it may be easy to forget that he actually did play 32 games and wasn't determined done for the year until about halfway through the Wizards' schedule. Even when he was available and mostly healthy, the results were not what he would prefer.

A quick glance at the numbers would suggest otherwise. Wall still managed to put up stats that in a normal year would merit All-Star consideration. But the Wizards went 11-21 in the games he played and had a net rating that was 5.3 points better when he was off the floor.

 

It went beyond the numbers, though. Social media can highlight players' worst moments like never before and Wall had several videos go viral of him standing around, watching plays transpire.

There was also the incident in November when Wall was fined for shouting an expletive at head coach Scott Brooks during practice. Though he owned up to it and it vowed to be better, the saga played out in public and helped define the Wizards' dysfunction.

Wall now looks ahead to a lengthy recovery from Achilles surgery with an uncertain future. The one certainty is that he will be making a lot of money, as he holds a guaranteed supermax contract that kicks in starting next season. He will make about $37.8 million in 2019-20 despite the likelihood he misses at least 50 games.

The injury is serious enough that Wall, who turns 29 in September, will probably have to adjust his game. He has long feasted on defenses by simply being faster than his opponents. The ruptured Achilles could affect his mobility and particularly early on when he returns and has to get up to game speed.

Wall may have to become a different player long-term. If he can't get to the rim as often, that could mean sacrificing shots to become even more of a pass-first point guard. The good news is that he is one of the most gifted distributors in the NBA and has the height to pass over defenders without needing to get by them to be effective.

It has been said for many years now that a more consistent outside shot would suit Wall well. He probably needs to be at least what he was two seasons ago when he shot 37.1 percent from three on 4.1 attempts per game.

The oft-made and wishful comparison to Jason Kidd's career arc could provide hope. Kidd is 10th all-time in three-pointers made but he didn't shoot above 37 percent from three until he was 34 years old. From Age 21 through 33, he shot 33.3 percent from the perimeter on 3.9 attempts. In his last six seasons, Wall has hit 33.5 percent of his threes on 3.8 attempts.

What could work in the Wizards' favor as they look ahead to Wall's four-year, $170 million contract is his acute obsession with proving people wrong. It may provide the necessary motivation for him to overcome the odds and justify his contract to some degree. 

But long before Wall is back on the floor, the Wizards will have a major decision to make that will affect his future. With a top-10 pick in the June 20 draft, they could choose a point guard.

Wall has already said he would be "fine" with the Wizards taking a player at his position, but added that guy would be his back-up once he returned. If they take Coby White from North Carolina, that sounds feasible. But if they get lucky in the May 14 draft lottery and select Ja Morant from Murray State, that could ultimately prove delusional.

 

The next calendar year will be an important one for Wall, even if he is on the sidelines rehabbing for most of it. The Wizards can only hope the future is brighter than his recent past.