John Wall Is Shooting The Wizards To The Playoffs

Please welcome guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant. Here he is on John Wall and your Washington Wizards.

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The Wizards are having their best season in years. They stand at 33-31, sixth place in the East and 3.5 games away from third. The five seasons before this Washington went 19-63, 26-56, 23-59, 20-46 (lockout-shortened season) and 29-53.

The collective misery of the Eastern conference, arrival of Marcin Gortat, improved health of Bradley Beal and improved play of Trevor Ariza are obvious contributors to the success. One topic that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, though, is John Wall’s jumper.

His shooting has never been something to brag about; his career shooting percentage sits at a modest 42.5 percent, and his three-point percentage hovers around 29.5 percent. Wall is making 33.9 percent of threes this season, though, and he’s shooting 3.7 per game (two more than his previous career high). Take a look at the shot charts:

John Wall’s 2012-13 Shot Chart

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John Wall’s 2013-14 Shot Chart

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His three-point shooting has become a legitimate weapon, to the point that defenses have to respect his jumper. This spreads the floor and opens up Ariza and Beal in ways that simply didn’t exist last season, which leads to more quality shots all around. The Wizards, as a team, are shooting 38.6 percent from three this season, up from 36.5 percent last season.

But it’s not just open threes the Wizards are getting. Washington is shooting 45.6 percent overall from the floor, tied for 11th in the league. That’s a huge increase from 43.5 percent of last season, when they were tied for 27th.

Shockingly enough, making more shots leads to more points. Washington is scoring a respectable 100.5 points per game this season, which is astounding considering they tied for last a year ago with 93.2 points per contest.

Again, this is not entirely attributed to Wall improving his shot. But a point guard needs to have an outside shot to become elite. Derrick Rose, injuries aside, makes for a great case study. In his rookie season, Rose averaged 0.9 three-point attempts per game and made just 22.2 percent. He improved mildly in his second season, and by his third season he had turned his three-point shot into a weapon. That year Rose shot 4.8 threes per game, knocking them down at a rate of 33.2 percent.

So while Wall has always been able to get his points — he’s never dropped below 16 per game — he now gets them from all over the floor. Defenses have a new element to defend, and his teammates benefit from it. The Wizards win.

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