They say every dark cloud has a silver lining.

Well, Washington Wizards fans are searching, that is the Wizards fans who are actually still paying attention. Admittedly there aren’t many. According to Sports Business Journal’s annual mid-season look at NBA ratings, the Wizards have the second lowest ratings in the NBA averaging a paltry 27,000 viewers per game. This doesn’t come as a total shock given the Wizards’ pathetic 7-26 record entering tonight’s game in Milwaukee.

But maybe there is reason to start thinking more optimistically? John Wall is becoming a better basketball player and is starting to show signs that he can be a star in the league.

Wall was the top pick in the draft last season and had an excellent rookie campaign averaging 16 points and 8 assists. Still, the naysayers focused on his low shooting percentage which was just a shade under 41% during his rookie season. When Wall struggled at the start of the season critics speculated that he must not have worked hard during the off-season and that he wouldn’t improve.

Yesterday on the Lavar and Dukes show, Wizards guard Roger Mason talked about Wall’s maturation. Mason pointed out that Wall has quit taking the ball to the basket in one on five situations and has worked extremely hard on his game. After I heard that I became curious and began to look at the numbers. I’m not going to lie, I was not expecting to see a 50% shooting percentage over the last ten games. In fact, during the last ten games Wall has averaged 20 points, 8.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. That’s pretty damn impressive.

Looking deeper at Wall’s season thus far, he’s improved every month. In December, Wall averaged just 13 points and 6 assists while shooting 27% from the field. In January, his numbers improved to 16.6 points, 7.3 assists and 41.4% shooting. And in February, Wall has averaged 18.1 points, 8.5 assists and shot 48%. You don’t need to be a mathematician to come to the conclusion that Wall is improving.

You know, just before the All-Star break I went to the Wizards game against Sacramento. An hour before the game there was just one Wizard on the court taking jumper after jumper. John Wall. I was curious to watch his form and how many jumpers he hit. I have to tell you, I watched him for almost ten minutes take shot after shot over Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell and he missed just one.

Look, I’m not saying he’s going to be as good as Derrick Rose some day. But don’t count him out either. Wall is still just 21-years-old and he’s maturing each and every game. The Wizards may have a horrible team, but Wall is worth watching.

JP Flaim


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