Yesterday I took a look at how Martell Webster is at least as important in the Wizards turnaround as John Wall. Today, I want to look at the story told by the Official Narrative Machine (ONM) -- that the Wizards are better because of Wall's return.
In many ways, the ONM has done okay with its telling of the "Wall makes the Wizards better" story. I don't like the way it's phrased -- I'd prefer a more neutral "the Wizards have been better since Wall's return" -- but I can live with.
Where the ONM story breaks down for me is in the simplified explanation. Specifically, the Official Narrative posits that Wall gets his teammates easy looks by pushing the pace (getting them easy transition buckets) and by penetrating and finding the open man.
The problem is not with its accuracy -- so far as it goes. But, in that simplicity, the ONM is missing a terrific story of how the game changes when Wall is in the game. According to the data at NBAwowy.com, since Wall returned to the lineup January 12, the team has an efg of .505 when Wall has been on the floor vs. an efg of .506 when he's been on the bench.
But, if I back out Wall's bad shooting, the team's efg leaps to .531. In other words, Wall's teammates have shot .506 when he's on the bench, but .531 when he's in the game. We see the same effect in 3pt shooting -- exclude Wall's attempts, and the team is shooting .424 from 3pt range when Wall is in the game, and .398 when he's not.
The differences aren't huge, but if sustained over an extended period, small differences accumulate.
The more significant change is in turnovers. With Wall on the floor, approximately 16.2% of the team's possessions end in a turnover. When he's been on the bench since January 12, the turnover rate is 17.2%.
A tiny difference that's hardly worth talking about, right? Wrong. When Wall's been on the floor, he's committed 38% of the team's turnovers. Which means that his teammates' turnover rates plummet when they're on the floor with Wall. The same guys who've posted a 17.2% turnover rate when Wall's been on the bench (since January 12) have a turnover rate of just 10.1% when he's been on the floor.
The story told by the numbers is that the offense is better overall when Wall's in the game because his teammates shoot a little better and commit far fewer turnovers.
The other issue the numbers raise for me is this: Think how much better the offense still could be if Wall would learn to shoot better and reduce his turnovers.