You don’t need analytics to tell you the Wizards will miss John Wall.
Wall, it was announced Saturday, will miss approximately two weeks with inflammation of his knee due to an injury suffered at the beginning of the month. He is the Wizards’ best player, so it goes without saying that Washington will struggle without him, but he’s much more important than his stats indicate.
Like most point guards, especially in today’s NBA, the team goes as Wall goes. But Wall’s impact on his team is even bigger than the average star point guard’s, as none of his complementary pieces are especially adept at creating for themselves. Bradley Beal has improved considerably in this regard, but he’s still a catch-and-shoot player at heart. Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre have each taken incremental steps forward, but neither is a reliable source of offense, especially without somebody force-feeding them.
For an idea of how much Beal, Porter and the rest of the Wizards depend on Wall, consider this:
Including Wall, that’s the top five scorers on the Wizards this season. And don’t forget, Wall has missed two full games already this season. Those numbers would all be markedly higher if Wall had played all 18 games.
And now those players will have to rely on Tim Frazier, who has fewer assists in his career (628) than Wall had last season (831), to fill Wall’s shoes. And that’s not even mentioning the scoring Wall brings directly; he scored 1,805 points last season, while Frazier has just 840 points over 145 career games.
The good news for Washington is Beal, Porter, Oubre and Frazier will all get the opportunity to create for themselves and get some hands-on experience at playing without an elite creator. It could prove a valuable lesson for the future.
And Wall has clearly not been himself this season, so the rest might help him regain his footing. He’s fewer points, assists, rebounds and steals than he did a season ago, and he simply hasn’t been the same dominant point guard on a nightly basis that he was last year.
Washington, which is tied for seventh place in the Eastern Conference, should be able to survive the two weeks without Wall. At 10-8, it can afford a minor setback at this point in the season. But that’s about all. A 2-6 stretch would be devastating for the Wizards’ shot at a top-four seed in the conference, and if Wall needs more than two weeks, things will only get worse.
If the Wizards can manage something close to a .500 record while he’s gone — no easy task given the next four games are all against teams with winning records — and Wall can return at full strength by mid-December, everything should be fine.
But this is a situation that could go south quickly. Good luck, Tim Frazier!