What’s wrong with John Wall?

Last season John Wall was drafted number one overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2010 draft. He is supposed to be the god send for the Wizard’s franchise after the failed project of Gilbert Arenas and the passing of previous Wizards owner Abe Pollin. The Wizards drafted him and basically gave Wall the keys to the franchise. Last season Wall was a spectacle to behold by all averaging 16 points and 8 assists per game. He won the Rookie Sophomore game MVP and broke the assist record in that game with 22 dimes. He would’ve easily won rookie of the year had Blake Griffin not been considered a rookie because of him being injured for the entirety of his original rookie season. Wall looked like the absolute right pick for the Wizards and it looked like they were going to be headed in the right direction for the next few seasons.

For these past few games, though, Wall has played as timidly as a child going to school for the first time. He looks like a shell of himself from last season. Wall has shot 32 percent in 6 games this season and has taken less shots. He has settled for way too many long 2 points shots and is shooting 42 percent at the rim this season according to Hoopdata.com. When you read his body language he seems like he isn’t interested in the game at times. Wall has improved on defense but when he gets beat he doesn’t try to recover more often than not. All of Wall’s numbers have been down thus far early in the season.

In no way am I using these numbers as an indictment to Wall’s season. They all just lead me to this question: What is wrong with John Wall?

When you look at 2nd year players its normal for them to have a slump; the problem is that Wall just looks like he has no enthusiasm and energy on the floor. You can see it when the Wizards play. Wall just plays out of control at times and I think it is from the frustration of being on the worst team in the NBA. When he has the ball he presses to get things done; there are a lot of ball stoppers on the Wizards who take the ball from Wall and limit his possessions. When you limit your most talented players possessions he’s going to press to get things done. Just to give you an example, Jordan Crawford’s usage rate is at 26.9 on the season, Nick Young’s is 25.9 and ; John Wall’s usage rate is at 24.2 according to basketball-reference.com There is no reason why a player of Wall’s talent should get less touches than Crawford or Young on this team. Especially when Jordan Crawford is the sixth man. Being a Wizard’s fan, it is extremely frustrating for me to see the ball out of Wall’s hands possession after possession. His teammates will freeze him out at times and just chuck the ball up for some of the worst shot choices you’d ever see.

One thing that worries me about Wall is his leadership capability. As I’ve said before, there are a lot of players who limit the touches Wall gets per game.  Wall needs to take charge of the team and let them know that he is THE guy for the Wizards. It all starts with him; when he is at his best we win. If he doesn’t let the players know that then things will never change. This is where leadership comes into play. I’d have to give Wall a failing grade as a leader thus far in his young career. Colin Cowherd brought up some excellent points on his ESPN radio show “The Herd”. Michael Lee, of the Washington Post, wrote out his comments in an article right here.

Listen, you fell in love with Tebow, and I said get out of the emotion game, get into the common-sense game. You can’t throw like that and win big games in the NFL. Same with John Wall. The numbers don’t lie. Real talented guy, but not a real leader, and that’s what your point guard has to be.”- Colin Cowherd

Could Colin have a point? So far in his career Wall has shown all of the flashes of being a star, but he hasn’t shown us any indication that he’s a great leader. Sure, he’s taken charge of games before. He’s been in situations where he’s gotten in teammates faces before about the things that they’ve done on the floor. The thing that I’m looking for is the production from the team that shows that his leadership is really playing a role in winning games. Wall gives maximum effort to the Wizards but the rest of the team has yet to do so. If Wall can’t convince them to one way or another, is he really a good leader?

When you look at point guards taken with the number one overall pick in the draft you look at names like Magic, Rose, and Iverson. Those guys had it all together during their second year. They were wooing people with not only their skills, but also through their leadership and their ability to take control of their respective teams. I haven’t seen that with Wall just yet.

While I think it’s too early in the season to write wall off now, I think that it is key that he picks his game up. He must take control of that Wizards locker room and willingly be the face of this franchise. Wall is the only guy who can turn things around for the Wizards. Once he takes over the controls from the rest of the team I think he will be back on track.

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About Michael D. Sykes, II
Hoops writer, I've come to terms with it. I love Basketball and it loves me back. Check me out at Baselinehoops.com and my own creation, "Whats Left on the Floor" at http://ballahollicsonly.wordpress.com.

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