John Wall has been solid — he’s averaging 15.3 points and 8.9 assists per game — but he has not been what everyone hoped. We expected a guy who was going to be the next great point guard in the league and to show that from day one, but he plays like a guy still figuring it out. Like a rookie.
We have seen only flashes of the lightning quick speed, seen little of him taking over games. He’s shooting 39.5 percent overall, just 59.1 percent at the rim and his midrange game has been awful. Despite promises all summer that the Wizards were going to run to take advantage of Wall’s speed and vision, they have been a middle of the pack team in terms of pace. Wall has not pushed that.
Injuries are a key reason for all of it, Wall told Mike Prada of SB Nation. He missed five games last month to get his knee and foot right but pushed to get back in the lineup and returned before he was fully healthy. He has not felt right in a long while.
“It’s just kind of tough for me because of the injuries,” Wall admitted to me after the game. “That’s the only thing really I think that’s stopped me from being who I want to be and controlling myself….
“I got all this padding on my left hand, so it’s kind of tough to grip the ball when I’m coming up to shoot it,” Wall admitted. “But I’m working on it everyday. It’s just being confident and holding my follow through.”
With the padding and the questions about his outside shot, teams are giving Wall the Rajon Rondo treatment and playing well off him. They are daring him to shoot, he’s being tentative about it, and suddenly you have a downward spiral. Coach Flip Saunders wants him to just be confident and shoot the rock. Wall sounds like a guy still trying to find his way.
“I know teams are going under (the pick), I make it at times, and at the same time, I can still be aggressive and get to the paint. But if I see it’s clogged up, I don’t want to force it for no reason. I can find my teammates a shot,” he said.
“I think that’s where you’re going to see me force the issue more, but like I said, I’m not that kind of person. I’m not that kind of point guard, unless I got it going.”
Prada also points out that Wall is struggling on defense.
Wall is going to get it and in a few years will be a force in this league. But part of that will be getting and staying healthy. Part of that will be defense. Part of that will be developing a steady outside shot teams have to respect.
Part of it is Wall having to pace himself — something Prada reports Wall talks to Brandon Jennings about. It will come, but right now the injuries are holding him back.