John Wall's Top 5 plays of the week 1-20
After stops in Sacramento, Denver, Los Angeles, Portland and Salt Lake City, the Wizards finally back in the Nation's Capitol. The games begin again Friday against Minnesota followed by a quick turnaround versus Chicago.
Before we jump back into forward-thinking mode, let's look back on the road trip that was and the recent winning stretch overall...
*Over the last eight games, starting with the Jan. 7 win over Oklahoma City, Washington is 5-3. Over the opening 32 games, 4-28. During those eight games, the Wizards averaged 99.1 points after scoring fewer than 90 per night in November and December.
*In his seven games since returning from a knee injury, John Wall averaged 14.0 points, 6.9 assists, and 25 minutes. His speed is there and while still breakneck when needed, seemingly more controlled than last season. The overall conditioning is apparently not all the way there or you would think coach Randy Wittman would have Wall in the starting lineup - and playing more minutes with Bradley Beal. That last point is not a knock; guy didn't play or practice for three months.
*There was the pre-fall and post fall Bradley Beal. As he had done throughout the month, the rookie continued rocking from long range and everywhere against Sacramento and Denver, averaging 24.5 points on 63 percent shooting from the floor and 71.4 percent from beyond the arc. Against the Nuggets, Beal also fell hard and bounced off the court following a dunk, his wrist taking a substantial portion of the hit. In the next three games, the 19-year-old averaged 9 points on 37.9 percent shooting. Beal made 3 of 5 3-pointers against the Clippers, the first game after Denver, but missed all five attempts against Portland and Utah and four of six free throws against the Jazz.
*Martell Webster ended the road trip with a scoring and long-range flourish. After tallying season-highs with 24 points and six assists against Portland, his original NBA team, the veteran small forward had 15 points against Utah. Also during those two games, he sank 7 of 10 3-pointers, upping his beyond the arc percentage to a team-best 41 percent. When Trevor Ariza returned from his calf injury, it seemed like only a matter of time before Webster returned to a reserve role. Maybe that's the long term planning once John Wall enters the starting lineup because at that point the bench will need more pop. Regardless, the chemistry between Webster and his teammates, particularly Nene, is popping.
*More Wall...Arguably above and beyond any other aspect of his game it will the point guard's shooting that takes ( or doesn't take) him to the truly elite level. In his return, Wall is shooting 41 percent from the field, matching his career rate. By comparison, Chris Paul is at 47.3 percent and hasn't been below 46 percent in six seasons. Rajon Rondo, hardly thought of as a sharpshooter, is at 48 percent this season and for his career. Wall's speed and daring puts him frequently at the rim, where he is making 57.7 of his attempts. From 10 feet and beyond, the percentage drops dramatically to 27.7 (10 of 36) and he has missed five of his 3-point attempts.
*For three straight games (and but three minutes of a fourth), Wizards coach Randy Wittman stuck with a 10-man rotation, meaning Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely and Garrett Temple only watched. While finally having Wall, A.J. Price and Jordan Crawford all back from their respective injuries at the same has sapped up the available backcourt minutes, Temple's size and defensive skills still provides Wittman an option the others do not. That's not the case with Singleton and Vesely. Boil down the roles for the 2011 first-round picks - energy forwards that provide rebounding and defense - and essentially, you have Trevor Booker. Factor in Webster and Ariza forming a nice offense-defense small forward combo and it's hard to see how without injury, significant foul trouble or Wittman playing a hunch how Singleton and Vesely return to the rotation any time soon.