John Wall, Washington Wizards: Interim Report Card Grades

7:06 PM, Feb 2, 2012   |    comments
John Wall and his loyal fans probably won't be happy with the grade I think he deserves. Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The most trouble I was ever in as a kid happened in seventh grade. It was my first year of middle school. I was chubby, had acne and started to get hair on my arm pits. My life was a mess. Kind of like how the Wizards are now.

My biggest problem in school was that I wasn't grasping the concept of pre-algebra as quickly as the other students.

So what did I do when the first report cards were mailed home in November? I buried it in the trash can. Instead of embracing that I was struggling in Math and asking for a tutor, I thought hiding the failing grade from my parents would make the situation go away.

Eventually my parents started to wonder where my report card was. I insisted it must've gotten lost in the mail and wrote down my grades for them, assuring it was the truth. They called the school, found out about my failing grade and made me eat dinner in my room until my math grade was passing.

Today, I am handing out interim grades for the Wizards. The season is officially 33.3 percent complete, yet Washington has just four wins. It's okay though, Washington. The Wizards shouldn't bury my grades in the trash can either. Hiding your poor aspects will continue to stunt your growth.

John Wall: D+

Pegged as literally everybody's preseason breakout star, Wall hasn't made any evident progression in his basketball game. In fact the regression has had a numbing affect on the rest of the Wizards roster, who are probably pondering why Wall isn't a consistent force yet.

Opposing teams barricade the one-dimensional Wall on drives to the basket, making it troublesome for the second-year player to consistently score throughout a game. The whole "John Wall doesn't have anybody surrounding him" argument should be coming to a halt soon. Rookie point guard Kyrie Irving has the Cavaliers in the hunt for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with just as bad of a roster -- if not worse -- as Washington.

Wall's upside: Free throw attempts. His one slight improvement has been getting to the line on a more dependable basis. Last year he averaged 5.7 attempts per game; this season he's upped his total to 6.3.

Wall's downfall: Shooting. If you've watched the Wizards play any game besides Wall's 38-point Houston Rockets outburst, I don't have to delve into this. I think Wall may have trouble getting urine into the toilet; his range is that bad.

Nick Young: B-

Young has posted at least 20 points in the last three Wizards victories and is the Wizards go-to scorer in late game situations. I clamored for Young to get more shots last week in an effort to figure out if he could be better than a B- player. Since then his shots have increased to 16.6 a game, and there is no denying the Wizards are playing better basketball.

Young's upside: Improved defense. And don't laugh either. Young hasn't been on the receiving end of a defensive torching in quite awhile. His effort against Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter on January 18th against the Thunder propelled Washington to its greatest victory of the Flip Saunders era. 

Young's downfall: Mid-range shooting. According to Hoop Data, Young's shooting percentage from 10-15 feet is at an all-time low of 25 percent. Just last season Young was converting 39 percent last season.

JaVale McGee: C+

McGee is as bi-polar of a basketball player as he is as a person. There are bone-headed goaltending calls and errant hook-shots. But then there's also hustling tip-outs on rebounds and captivating slam dunks. There's the whining sad face but then there's also a positive evil look in his eye. As of late though, it legitimately seems like McGee is exerting more energy on the court. 

McGee's upside: He's leading the entire NBA in blocked shots, at an even three per game. He also leads the team in PER (offensive efficiency rating) at 19.43, above players like Joakim Noah, Nene and DeAndre Jordan. The not-so-smart shots seem to be appearing less and less.

McGee's downfall: Free throw's. Not only is he shooting a league worst 43.3 percent, he never even gets to the line. His 2.9 attempts per game never put any opposing big men in foul trouble, making it easy for them to keep playing aggressive defense.

Andray Blatche: F

And I've defended Blatche for a good portion of the season. His contract is now the biggest poop-stain on general manager Ernie Grunfeld's dirty Wizards resume. Blatche is out for 3-5 weeks with a calf injury.

Blatche's upside: ... His turnover ratio is down? "Booooooooooooooo."

Blatche's downfall: His weight problem, the fact that every Wizards fan despises him, his shot selection, his tendency to take plays off, his headband, his attitude, his comments to the media and his breath.

Jordan Crawford: C

The relationship between Jordan Crawford and the Wizards fan base is almost like tequila: some nights your obsessed with taking as many shots as possible and other times you don't even want to smell it. Personally, I love Crawford's confidence on a team lacking shooters. His field goal percentage is rather defective (38.4) but he's only 23-years-old. Pour me some tequila shots, why not?

Crawford's upside: Catching fire, like he did last night against Orlando. In five of the seven games Crawford has scored 15 or more points, the Wizards either won the game or lost by eight points or less. Hey! Losing by less than 10 feels amazing for someone like me who watches every game.

Crawford's downfall: Defense. Don't count on him to limit any significant scoring threat. Or help out a teammate who has been burned.

Rashard Lewis: F

Is it possible the 32-year-old could retire following a buyout after this season? Let me boggle your mind quickly. Rashard Lewis is making $335,636 PER GAME. Did last night's season best 20-point outing in Orlando have anything to do with steroids?

Lewis's downfall: The three-point shooting specialist has posted a 28.6 percentage from behind the arc in 2011-2012. That's still good for fifth on the Wizards.

Trevor Booker: B+

Booker's seen his minutes fluctuate as much as the scales at your local Jenny Craig. It seems like new coach Randy Wittman will keep the energetic forward's minutes around the 20ish range, at the very least. He's leading the team in field goal percentage at 57.4.

Booker's upside: Quite honestly, everything. He's gritty, he's a hard worker, he seems to care about winning, he picks smart shots and his help defense is easily the best on the team. If one day the Wizards finally click -- in what, 2021? -- think of Booker as a key component off the bench.

Booker's downfall: Look on the bench after a timeout when Booker has just left the game. Does anyone look more tired than Book? I'm not questioning his conditioning, but that may have a factor in some of his limited minutes. 


Chris Singleton: C+

Singleton hasn't topped more than two points in his last seven games, which docks his letter grade down for me.

Singleton's upside: Shelvin Mack and Jordan Crawford played a key in the Wizards huge 15-2 second quarter run against Orlando last night, but it was Singleton's pressure defense which forced Orlando into turnovers. If Singleton's pressure defense is working, the Wizards are prone to go on scoring runs.

Singleton's downfall: The rookie can only score himself on fast break opportunities or set three-point shots. That can be problematic if Singleton wants to return to the starting lineup.

Jan Vesely: D

Be honest here: Don't you wish the Wizards would've picked someone different with the sixth overall pick? Marshon Brooks would be ideal at this point. John Wall supposedly needed help right away, to make up for the waste of space players (Blatche and Lewis) and Vesely is looking like he won't become that guy. These are some bold statements but my guess is that Vesely will never average more than 10 points in a game, or more than six rebounds or more than 30 minutes.

Vesely's Upside: He produces visually stimulating dunks and can anticipate passing lanes well for a rookie.

Vesely's downfall: Believe it or not,the awkward European is a worse shooter than John Wall. He may score less than 10 times in his entire career outside of the paint. That means the Wizards HAVE to draft someone who can not only play right away, but someone who can shoot the basketball through the net.

Shelvin Mack: A-

For what he's asked to do, Mack has executed his role almost to perfection. He comes into the games relieving John Wall and adds solidarity to an otherwise erratic offense.

Mack's upside: One day he may be a starter for another team. And it's not that I think he's a talented player. It's that he's a very solid manager of the game and can evenly distribute the ball, keeping everyone happy. Oh yeah, he can hit three-pointers too, Mr. Wall.

Mack's downfall: He can't play in a lineup next to the Wizards franchise cornerstone, Devin Harris.... I mean John Wall. 

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