For much of the season, NBA fans have wondered when the Washington Wizards would start to live up to their potential. It might have taken four months, but the Wizards are finally a team to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards go as their point guard goes, and the team’s current success can be attributed to former No. 1 overall pick John Wall, who is in the midst of a career year.
Washington’s front office has made no secrets about their commitment to the top pick of the 2010 NBA Draft. They inked the 23-year-old to a five-year, $80 million extension this past summer, and he’s earned every penny of it so far.
The Wiz are on a current run in which they have won six of seven games, pushing their record to 31-29, and moving them into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. On February 25, for just the second time all season (the other was on Feb. 3), the Wizards crossed over the .500 mark in the win column — and they haven’t looked back. What’s even more impressive is that three of those wins have come without starting power forward Nene in their lineup, who is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL.
For the season, Wall is averaging 20.0 points — on 43.1 percent shooting — 8.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 3-pointers. His 2.0 steals per game are fourth in the NBA behind only Ricky Rubio, Chris Paul and Thaddeus Young, and his 0.48 blocks are tops among all point guards.
During the Wizards’ current seven-game hot streak, however, Wall has really stepped up his game, scoring 21.4 points and dishing out 10.6 assists per contest. He’s also shooting an incredible 51.4 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from behind the arc, as well. Those gaudy numbers have him ranked 10th on Basketball Monster.com over the past week.
The Washington Wizards last made the playoffs during the 2007-08 season, and have not made it past the first round since getting swept by the Miami Heat in the 2004-05 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The way Wall has this team playing, it’s looking like fans in the nation’s capital will get to enjoy postseason basketball once again.
John Wall’s ability to produce stats across the board, and do so in categories that most point guards don’t (i.e. rebounds, blocks), has launched him into top 10 territory. He’s leapfrogged the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin, and is resting comfortably at No. 9 in the latest edition of my fantasy basketball player rankings: