As Wizards owner Ted Leonsis pointed out in his blog, the team did win last night -- their 6th win in their past 7 home games. They upped their winning percentage to a heady .500 since John Wall returned to the lineup. Today, I'm offering some potentially positive pixels. How positive depends on your own interpretation.
So, the narrative continues to be that Wall is driving the team's improvement. A glance at plus/minus numbers would seem to agree. The team has been better since Wall's return. What's far less clear is that Wall is causing the team to be better. Overall, the numbers suggest that other teammates deserve more credit for the team's improved performance, although...there is at least one way of looking at the numbers that suggests Wall's presence could be helping -- at least in a very small way -- those teammates be more productive.
The overall difference on the floor is pretty small. Since Wall's return, the team is averaging 102.3 points per 100 possessions with Wall in the game; 101.4 when he's on the bench (per NBAwowy.com).
The shooting is remarkably similar: an efg of .491 with Wall on the floor vs. .499 when he's not in the game; and a 3pt% of .398 on vs. .371 off.
But, the overall numbers include Wall's shot attempts, which are A) abundant since returning to the lineup, and B) as inaccurate as ever. Back out Wall's crummy shooting, and his teammates are shooting an efg of .517 when he's on the floor, which is a shade better than what they do when he's on the bench.
Unfortunately, the attempt at positive pixels ends there for me. First, the difference between his teammate's shooting with Wall and without (since his return) is insignificant -- we're talking about a difference of less than one made FG per 40 minutes. If it kept up over a full season, it might mean something, but from this small a sample size...no.
Second, this purely moral victory stuff. Wall's missed shots and turnovers count. That teammates may shoot a little better when he's in the game is small consolation when he's giving back that gain with his own inefficiency.
The bottom line with Wall remains what it has been since his playing days at Kentucky. He's a phenomenal athlete who still needs to learn some basic basketball skills: how to shoot and how to avoid turnovers. The team continues to market him as its "star guard," but in reality, he's not. He's performing at a below-average level so far this season. This is not the stuff of a franchise building block.
I'm not writing Wall off by any means. He's young, and (as I've written before) his first couple years bore a not-superficial resemblance to the first couple years of players like Isiah Thomas and Russell Westbrook. The Wizards don't need to make any kind of long-term decision regarding Wall until the 2014 trade deadline, at the earliest.
But, Wall must improve. His current level of performance is not good enough to warrant consideration as a franchise building block.
Below is my weekly update on the team's performance using Player Production Average (PPA), an overall rating I developed that credits players for things that contribute to winning and debits them for things that don't. PPA is pace neutral, accounts for defense, and includes a "degree of difficulty" adjustment that reflects the level of competition a player faces while on the floor.
In PPA, average = 100, higher is better, and replacement value is 45.
Biggest decliner this week is obviously Wall. Turnovers and bad shooting continue to characterize his play and undermine his positive contributions. Nene's production continued its descent. I'm wondering if his foot is causing him more discomfort than has been made public.
Okafor continues to play well, as does Webster. One of the bigger improvers this week was Singleton, who finally showed some signs of life.