The 27 games that John Will missed to get his right knee fixed had a silver lining for the Wizards who welcomed their All-Star back on Saturday. Wall dished out 14 dimes, dropped 15 points and saw Otto Porter and Bradley Beal score 48 points. Without him, the past 64 days, the Wizards had to play for each other in a way that is absent when a talent like Wall has the ball in his hands. Wall is one of the best pick and roll guards in the NBA not to mention a defensive asset. He is a two way player who controls tempo. Wall absent, there was a lot of we’re all eating now nonsense that sounded good in the firt few games when the Wizards played to their strengths, but here’s the nuts and bolts of John Wall. Without him the Wizards were 15-12. The last ten games before his return, they were 5-5, losing to teams like the Pistons and Knicks who are not going to be in the playoffs. The Wiz have the Rockets and Cleveland coming up on the road with just a slim margin, the 6th seed, even though they are in the playoffs. Washginton needs John Wall if they are going to have any kind of Eastern Conference Finals chance.
It hasn’t been the year the Wizards thought they would have after how last year finished. They have been pretty average and it’s still not apparent that all of their surrounding pieces fit the way they want to play. But they have in Wall a player who makes others better and necessary in this era: a point guard who can get to the rim and defend his position. He makes the Wizards capable of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals, regardless of their seed, something that would be impossible to do without him. Any team that defends the three the way the Wizards do and shoots the three the way the Wizards do is capable of knocking off anyone. But they have a rebounding and protecting the rim problem they can only solve with personnel and some changes in the summer.
Like all great players, Wall, masks all the deficiencies of the Wizards even if he is the center of their angst from time to time. They may not want to hear this but the Washington Wizards need Wall more than they need any other player.
The most excited person to have his star point guard back is Scott Brooks. “That Ferrari is pretty good. He got a lot of open shots for a lot of players. We don’t care who we play [in the playoffs]. We just want to play well.” The second happiest person to have Wall back is Marcin Gortat. Wall is the only guard on the Wizards capable of legitimizing what is left of the Polish Hammer’s game. Gortat was a +13. Not surprisingly, Wall was a +16.
Wall won’t play on the second night of a back-to-back in Chicago. After the Bulls game the Wiz have five more left before the playoffs begin.