HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — The Wizards’ official statement reads that “the team has relieved Head Coach Flip Saunders of his duties.” Never has a press release rung so true.
No coach wants to get fired, but no coach really deserves to coach these Wizards for three years either. Saunders isn’t blameless when it comes to the 51-130 record he compiled in Washington, but we all know that he was dealing with a group of players short on discipline, basketball IQ and leadership.
The Wizards should have been improved this season, and the improvement should have started with point guard John Wall. The 2010 No. 1 draft pick was banged up for much of his rookie season and had an extra-long offseason to take what he learned last year, sharpen his game and improve his jumper. Many of us predicted that Wall would have a break-out season, turning his talent into production.
But thus far this season, Wall’s numbers are worse than they were in his rookie year. He’s shooting worse, assisting less, and turning the ball over more. As a result, the Wizards rank last in offensive efficiency, scoring a putrid 92 points per 100 possessions.
Wall has talked often about improving his mid-range game, but he’s been flat out awful from mid-range this season. Of the 84 players who have attempted at least 50 shots from mid-rage (between the paint and the 3-point line), Wall ranks 83rd in mid-range shooting percentage, ahead of only Danny Granger.
That’s not Wall’s only weak spot. He also struggles to finish near the basket, ranking 80th in percentage among the 89 players who have attempted at least 50 shots from inside five feet. He ranks 63rd among the 69 players who have attempted at least 25 shots from elsewhere in the paint. And he’s yet to make a 3-pointer.
This season, Wall is shooting worse than he did last season from every distance…
John Wall’s shooting
|Restricted Area||Paint (Non-RA)||Mid-Range||3-point range||TOTAL|
The one thing that Wall continues to do well is get to the free throw line. This year, he’s attempting 48 free throws per 100 shots from the field, up from 40 last season. But the free throws don’t make up for the poor shooting. Of the 151 players who have attempted at least 50 shots this season, Wall ranks 137th in true shooting percentage.
Wall isn’t performing in a vacuum, of course. His supporting cast is certainly holding him back. But point guards selected with the No. 1 pick are supposed to elevate the play of their teammates.
Instead of breaking out this season, Wall has regressed. It’s still early, but in regards to the Wizards’ 2-15 start, their star point guard deserves some of the blame.