After a disappointing season in Washington, the Wizards’ star point guard decided to pursue surgery this offseason to repair both of his knees. Just one year after a seemingly positive season that included 46 wins and a second-round playoff appearance, the team has a new coach, and Wall may not be ready for training camp. Furthermore, Washington has to lure Bradley Beal back to town during free agency, and upgrade other parts of the roster if the Wizards are going to contend in the Eastern Conference next season. Despite this, Wall has an optimistic view for this offseason, and the future as a whole.
In an interview with The Vertical, Wall discussed the opportunity the Wizards have this summer in terms of adding valuable pieces to its roster. Washington will have ample cap space with the salary cap rising, and it could lead to a big signing.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team to build. We kind of threw away the last two years of just trying to win and not signing guys back. But to have money to go after another max player, it’s an opportunity for our front office to do a good job – which I know they will – of trying to bring somebody in and then you got to go try to win.”
Wall also talked with The Veritcal about how long it has been since he has been fully healthy. This has limited play and possibly led to the disappointing season that recently ensued in Washington.
“It’s going to be like the first time I’ll be really healthy and be myself. If you know me, you know I’m a person that’s going to attack it like nothing else. I’m taking this challenge on. It’s a tough challenge to try to rebuild everything and get stronger. It’s a challenge I’m willing to take to come back to be a better player, and come back and try to have the best season I’ve ever had.”
Still, even if Wall has been injured for some time, his numbers do not dictate any sort of regression. He averaged 19.8 points and 10.2 assists per 36 minutes this past season. Despite his injury, Wall was still able to get inside the lane and make plays, as evidenced by his 29.0 percent mark of field goals within three feet of the basket according to Basketball-Reference. He shot an impressive 59.8 percent from this area as well.
Additionally, Wall’s injuries did not limit him in his ability to make his teammates better. According to Basketball-Reference, Wall was fourth in the league in assist percentage at 46.2 percent, just a few percentage points behind Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo. Wall’s mark was on par with last season’s number when he took his game to a whole new level in terms of passing.
Furthermore, Wall’s biggest improvement in the past season came from behind the arc. Of course, this had always been the knock on Wall’s game, but he may slowly be improving his long-range shooting. In his first three seasons in the NBA, Wall converted on only 49 of his 202 three-point attempts, which comes out to 24.3 percent. However, in the 2013-14 season, Wall made 35.1 percent of his 308 attempts. The next season, Wall regressed to 30.0 percent, but that number shot back up to 35.1 percent this year on a career-high 4.2 attempts per 36 minutes.
Wall has clearly improved on his outside shot from his college days, but exactly how much is still to be determined. If he can continue to demonstrate a respectable three-point field goal percentage as he has in two of the past three seasons, then he will have supplanted himself as one of the best point guards in the league.
Ultimately, getting back to full health will be vital for Wall, who relies on athleticism and speed in the open court to do his damage. Wall should be able to return to form in the upcoming season, and because of that, his improvements will once again be on full display.
[Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images]