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Wall Has Transcendent Week for Wizards

 

If John Wall can play something close to this good over an extended period, he'll be one of the best players in the game -- a true franchise-level talent. Over the last five games, Wall exploded to the tune of 24.8 points, 11.4 assists, 2.5 steals and 3.4 turnovers per 40 minutes -- with an effective field goal percentage of .641. His PPA over that five game stretch: a whopping 308. And, he was selected as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week -- the first Wizards player to win the honor since Antawn Jamison. In 2008.

Remember, average in PPA is 100. Lebron James currently has the league's best PPA -- 271.

And oh yeah, the Wizards were 4-1; the lone loss coming in a close-fought game at Cleveland.

Here's a quick look at Wall's rolling average PPA this season -- his season average after each game. 

Encouraging signs abound. Wall hit jumpers regularly, including three-pointers. Seeing him shoot the three is a welcome sight because most of his jumpers the past couple seasons had been long twos, which are the worst shots in the game. Particularly encouraging is the improved shooting technique -- he's shooting on the way up rather than coming down, his release point is more consistent, he's not fading or drifting on jumpers, and he's moved the off hand from the top of the ball.

When I dig into the numbers, one impressive nugget jumps out: over the past five games the team has played fast, slow and in-between. In a slow-paced game against New Orleans, Wall was at his best, posting 29 points, 9 assists, 2 steals and just 3 turnovers. His ability to perform at a high level in different types of games and at different paces gives hope that he's figuring out what it takes to be an elite NBA player.

Obviously, Wall isn't going to continue shooting 83% on three-pointers or nailing shots to the tune of a 64% efg. And in the "caveat" category, keep in mind that the competition he faced over these last 5 games has been poor. The aggregate record for their last five opponents is 113-218, a winning percentage of just .341. And four of the games were at Verizon Center.

Want more? Cleveland was missing Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao; Phoenix was missing Marcin Gortat. Nobody is mistaking Kemba Walker, Brandon Jennings, Eric Gordon or Goran Dragic for the second coming of Gary Payton, Alvin Robertson or Sidney Moncrief.

During this stretch, the Wizards faced defenses ranked 11th (Milwaukee), 23rd (Phoenix), 27th (Cleveland), 28th (New Orleans) and 30th (Charlotte). Not to put too fine a point on it, but this stretch of games was tailor made for Wall to "get right."

All that said, while "weak schedule" is a factor, Wall (and other players) have had bad games against bad opponents. But, Wall didn't just have a few good games -- he dominated. He produced at an elite level the Wizards haven't seen from anyone in years.

Now he needs to keep it up.

Below is the weekly update on the stats using Player Production Average -- an overall rating stat I developed. It's a per-minute measure that is adjusted for pace, accounts for defense, and includes a "degree of difficulty" factor based on the level of competition a player faces during his minutes on the floor. In PPA, average = 100, higher is better, and replacement level is 45.

PLAYER GMS  MPG  LW  PPA 
Emeka Okafor  65  26.2  149  147 
Martell Webster 64  29.1  114 121 
John Wall 32 
30.8  92 119 
Nene Hilario 50  27.4  114 116 
Trevor Ariza 47  25.7  109 105 
Bradley Beal 52  31.7  97 98 
Jason Collins 3.0  91 91 
Trevor Booker 32  17.3  75 87 
A.J. Price 46  22.5  83 83 
Garrett Temple 34  19.1  36 51 
Cartier Martin 29  16.0  44 44 
Chris Singleton 45  15.6  37 36 
Kevin Seraphin 62  21.5  17  17 
Jan Vesely 39  11.5  6
         

Lots to like in this update. Okafor and Nene were steady while Wall erupted and Webster surged to a season high mark. Beal returned to action with a solid game, and Ariza's production remained "about the same" despite playing with a sore knee. Booker also seemed to recapture his form of the previous couple years -- perhaps as he finally returned to full health. 

On the downside, Singleton, Seraphin and Vesely continue to bring up the rear, and none showed signs of improving.

That's a worry for another day. For now, I'm happy to see Wall playing so well. And, like all Wizards fans, I hope he can sustain at a level of excellence. If he does, he'll have earned that max contract he says he deserves, and he'll lead the Wizards to many wins over the next decade.

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