COMMENTARY | This coming season will be John Wall’s fourth in the NBA and with the Washington Wizards. The former first overall pick has said that he will be writing “playoffs” on his shoes all season long.
Writing “MVP” may not be a bad idea, either.
Obviously, the whole “playoffs” on the shoe thing is a team-oriented goal and one that is certainly achievable for Washington this season. Along with having a team good enough to get them to the playoffs, the Wizards also have a team good enough to make Wall a dark horse in the MVP race this season.
Had Wall have played all of last season, he would’ve been a dark-horse candidate to win the award then, too. Wall missed nearly half the season due to injury, but made a positive impact on the quality of play when he returned. In fact, it led some to believe that the Wizards would have been playoff contenders last season had he played the entire season.
With Wall out, there was no leader on offense and the Wizards lacked a true playmaker. Then rookie Bradley Beal did his best to pick up the slack, but it’s hard to replace a point guard like Wall. He can score many different ways and his defensive skills aren’t lacking, either.
This year, the Wizards will have a healthy John Wall to start the season and that bodes well for their playoff hopes and his award hopes. They have a talent filled roster surrounding him which will force opposing defenses to think less about Wall and more about the guys helping him out. That will in turn leave Wall with more opportunities.
On the edges, Beal and rookie Otto Porter Jr. will be providing some help to Wall. Both players have the ability to swing the momentum of a game and opposing coaches and players will have to be conscience of where they are and what they’re doing. The past few seasons, the Wizards haven’t had playmakers not named “Wall” and the pressure was placed squarely on him to get it done. This season, the pressure will still be there, but the defense won’t be the ones applying all of it. Rather, it’ll be in his own head and from the fans and media.
Down low, he’ll have Emeka Okafor and Nenê Hilario manning the paint with Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin coming off the bench. Both Okafor and Hilario are big-body big men that can grab offensive boards and score some points on their own. They are just two more players the defenses will have to focus on other than Wall.
Of course, having a good squad around you means that you can become an all-around better player. With Porter and Beal on the edges and Hilario and Okafor down low, Wall has plenty of options to pickup assists from. Being able to successfully and swiftly lead an efficient offense will help his chances and that is something that Wall will excel at thanks to his skill set and the team that’s around him.
To be the league’s MVP, you have to be an all-around great player. That means that you not only have to score, but you have to dish assists, grab some boards and even force a few turnovers. Wall’s got it down when it comes to scoring (18.5 ppg in 2012-13) and assists (7.6 apg in 2012-13), but his rebounding and turnovers forced will have to improve over last year.
Currently, LeBron James has a stranglehold on any and all MVP chances, but Wall can certainly be a player that could steal a vote or two with a good season. We all expect James to have another great year, so it would take a pretty spectacular year from Wall in order to win the award. However, it is something that he is more than capable of.
Don’t sleep on John Wall and the Washington Wizards this NBA season. Not only can they contend for a playoff spot, but John Wall could steal some MVP award attention, too.
Brian Skinnell is a contributor for RantSports.com and Yahoo Sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.