Statistics put together by the popular Wizards blog, bulletsforever.com, show Wall shot below 22 percent on jumpers from 16-23 feet during last season’s first 22 games. Over the next 21 games, he actually took the same numbers of shots from that exact area on the floor… and made close to 43 percent. During that span, only five point guards shot a better percentage from that area, and none of them were named Westbrook, Rose, Rondo or Williams.
“I think he’s definitely improved and he’s been in a situation in Washington that hasn’t been great for him,” Love says. “But I think as they get more quality players and set up a better team around him they’ll have better success.”
Still, because of that ghastly start, and a weak finish to the season, Wall’s midrange numbers for the entire season showed he was the second-worst midrange shooter amongst starting-caliber point guards. Compare that to his game at the rim, where he made more shots than any point guard outside of two: Russell Westbrook, and Tyreke Evans, who was playing small forward by the end of the season in Sacramento.
“People may think he’s this and that, but at the end of the day, he’s pretty damn good,” says Lowry, who admits it took him five years to get comfortable with his perimeter shot. “Everyone always has their own opinions about his game. I think he should just go and play his game. Everybody says he should shoot jump shots and make threes. Why make threes when he can get to the lane with the best of them?”
In July, Wall will head to Las Vegas to train with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Having been selected to the 13-man U.S. Select Team, which is often the first step towards eventually earning a spot on the Olympic roster, Wall will go up against players like Deron Williams and Chris Paul, and learn from them.
In a way, he’s actually already started. He traveled to Los Angeles to take in the playoff atmosphere this spring, but also to study Chris Paul. He paid enough attention to point out, “When you watch his game, he always wants to go back to the right.”
But Paul isn’t the only player he’s studied, and Wall isn’t some athletic freak that gets by on his natural talent. He knows ball, and loves it. Ask him about his favorite moves – like his patented, warping spin move – and he’ll break it down step by step. Ask him about his opponents. Sometimes, you don’t even need to ask. He’ll just start talking.
Corey Allmond was a good enough basketball player to set a NCAA record at Sam Houston State, and good enough to now be playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA’s D-League. But even though Corey Allmond averaged 15.5 points a game in the NBA’s jayvee league this past season, you probably don’t know who he is. But John Wall does.
Wall starts to tell the story from atop his perch – overlooking three crowded courts at the Red Bull Midnight Run. With Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones, Pt. II” echoing off the walls, he notices Allmond, who’s here playing, raining hell from behind the three-point arc.
“He don’t like to miss,” Wall says, before telling the story from the start, how the two played each other in college, how Allmond broke a Rupp Arena record for a Kentucky opponent by making 11 triples against Wall, how, as Wall remembers, “He was double-clutching and still made it.”
It was a regular season game from two years ago, an automatic win that would’ve been forgotten even in rabid Kentucky circles just days later. Yet Wall remembered, and even recalled the screens the visitors were setting to free their shooter.
Minutes later, after someone asks if Wall still wishes he had stayed another year at Kentucky, the 6-4 hang glider shrugs, yet is clearly still pissed they didn’t win an NCAA Championship.
They lost in the Elite 8 to an underdog West Virginia team. Why? Wall says the Mountaineers went zone in the first half, and were too scared to man up. Wall remembers West Virginia coach Bob Huggins saying he wouldn’t play man.
And yet Wall explained, “We lost because our three shooters started 0-22.”