Everyone has a take on John Wall and the Washington Wizards these days. Some say they’re better off without him and point to the 10-4 record the Wizards have compiled since he underwent knee surgery in January. Others scoff at the idea and point to the fairly obvious fact that Wall, a five-time all-star, is better than Tomas Satoransky, his second-year understudy. The truth is somewhere in between. And the undeniable fact is that the Wizards signed Wall to a four-year, $170 million contract extension that doesn’t kick in until July 2019. And they did this for a reason. Whether these Wizards will be the team that finally advances to a conference final or again falls flat in the playoffs, it will be with Wall — assuming he returns from his recent surgery — on the court and heavily involved. Still, the Wizards have been surprisingly successful without him — Wednesday night’s 109-101 loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors aside — and have managed to do so by employing a different style of play. Their recent run raises the question: What will happen when Wall comes back? “There’s no question that we can add some of the things that we’ve done,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said before Wednesday’s game. “But we also want to make sure he brings what he brings. The guy is the fastest guy in the league going basket-to-basket. He generates four or five easy buckets for himself, and he generates six or seven easy three-point shots for our perimeter shooters, let alone our bigs for layups. We need that.” That is the conundrum when trying to decipher what to make of this Wizards surge without their star. The Wizards have fundamentally changed who they are without Wall. They averaged 23.2 assists (11th in the NBA) and 281.7 passes per game (27th) before Wall left the lineup. Entering Wednesday night’s game, Washington was leading the NBA in assists (30.2) and ranked 10th with 310.2 passes per game over the previous 13 without him. But in playing that way, the Wizards have sacrificed in other areas — and, notably, in areas in which Wall thrives. They are attempting more than two fewer drives per game and five fewer free throws, and they’re drawing three fewer fouls.
Brooks: Wizards need Wall despite success without him
Washington Post | Mar 1