Washington Wizards point guard John Wall isn't having the start to the season he envisioned. This was supposed to be his All-Star turn and his team's time to push for the playoffs. While it's early and those things are still possible, it isn't looking good so far. Wall is averaging 16.1 points on 36.5 percent shooting and Washington has just two wins in nine games. In order to turn things around, he thinks he has to get back to what he's best at: driving to the basket, via NBA.com's David Aldridge:
"I've gotta get back to attacking the basket, and just settling," he said as he sat down following the Wizards' shootaround Saturday morning.
"I think that can happen when you've worked so hard on your shot," Wall said, tacitly acknowledging that he's trying to prove that he is a good perimeter shooter this season. It has been a burden on Wall since he was taken No. 1 overall by Washington in 2010, only briefly ameliorated with a strong showing last season after he returned from a knee injury.
It's always tricky when young players expand their games. No matter how much you work at your three-point shot in the summer, it's an adjustment to add it to your arsenal when the games count. That's particularly true when it's a weakness people have been talking about for years. Wall is currently attempting 4.2 three pointers a game and only making 31.6 percent of them, which accounts for a decent chunk of his overall shooting struggles but doesn't totally explain them. He is struggling inside the line, too:
Wall's shot has been particularly errant over the past five games, four of them losses. Over that span he's attempted 17.9 field goals per game, but only made 29 percent of them. That includes shooting 4-19 on threes:
Again, the jump shot isn't the only issue. In recent games, Wall has been seriously struggling to finish. Now, how to fix this? Wall's right that he needs to get back to his bread and butter. If you've watched Wall at all since he came into the league, you know his best skill is being able to penetrate and create for himself and others. He should not be settling for long jumpers instead. The difficult thing is finding a balance, especially when defenses are geared toward keeping him out of the paint.
Wall put the time in on his jumper because he knew it would open up his game. Now he mustn't hesitate on those shots when they're available, but he should also avoid forcing them. It's all easier said than done, and being in the midst of a losing streak with high expectations and a new max contract doesn't help matters. Neither does the fact that he's battling back spasms. Here's hoping Wall figures it out.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.