- Elijah Branch
What to Expect from John Wall This Season
John Wall enters the 2018-19 season with a bit of chip on his shoulder. Last season was a difficult one for Wall, with a lingering knee injury keeping him on the sidelined for 41 games. The Washington Wizards would make the playoffs despite Wall missing half the season, qualifying for the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, which meant a matchup with the top seed Toronto Raptors, with the Raptors winning the series in six games.
Despite missing half the season, Wall was still effective when he was healthy, putting up 19.4 points while dishing out 9.6 assists per game. Wall was also the Wizards best rim protector, averaging just over one block per game last season.
I expect Wall to pick up were he left off last season, and the Wizards making key roster moves will help Wall return to form, especially if he’s healthy. During the 2016-17 season, Wall averaged 23 points, and over 10 assists a game, and I think Wall will put up similar numbers this season.
Wall’s ability to penetrate, score, or find open shooters and slashers will be the difference in him regressing or still possessing the ability to keep opposing teams defense honest. Having a dependable sidekick in Bradley Beal can only be a plus, with the Wizards returning four of five starters from last season.
Continuity should help the Wizards, and having a much more versatile big in Dwight Howard could lead to lobs and pick and roll sets between Howard and Wall, with the slower and more traditional back to wall center Marcin Gortat being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for combo guard Austin Rivers. The Wizards enter this season the deepest roster they’ve had since drafting Wall in 2010. Jeff Green’s return to the District of Columbia (Green played at Georgetown 2004-2007) gives the Wizard a forward capable of scoring and guarding every position on the court.
Another factor in why Wall could have a breakout season is his ambition to take advantage of the absence of LeBron James, who’s eight year reign over the Eastern Conference will open the door for a new team(s) to potentially rule the conference, and Wall believes the East is wide open:
“I think we have a better team now, and the East is wide-open, now that [LeBron James] is out the picture,” said during Team USA basketball minicamps.
“I think we could of competed the last two years if we didn’t have to deal with injuries, falling to the eighth seed, playing Toronto a heck of a team, I felt like we should of beaten those guys, but they came out the better team at that time.” (Bleacher Report)
The Wizards have taken the proper measures in surrounding Beal and Wall with adequate talent, and finally role players who could potentially alleviate the workload for the Wizards star players.
Everything is there for Wall and the Wizards to make some legitimate noise in the Eastern Conference, with teams like the 76ers, Celtics and Raptors viewed as the favorites in the East this season.
Of course, Wall’s goals for the season are far more ambitious: “My goal is to win MVP, I don’t care about being the best player in the East.”
With Southeast Division teams that are expected to be weak (Atlanta, Orlando), or hovering around the bottom half of the playoff picture(Charlotte, Miami), Wall can take advantage of a division that has a lot more questions than answers going into the season, positioning the Wizards in the discussion with the rest of the top tier teams in the East.