Here’s a hot take for your bitterly cold Tuesday: if a man without arms can make lemonade out of lemons, an All-Star point guard without an adequate supporting cast can make assists out of passes. And if said All-Star point guard is the absolute best at what he does (and he IS), he’ll make so many of those assists that he earns top player honors in his conference for the month of December.
Yes, in case you missed it, the NBA announced John Wall as the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December yesterday. It was very well deserved, as Wall tallied up a monster line of averages for the final 16 games of 2015 with 22.6 points, 11.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game. Thirteen of those 16 games resulted in double-doubles.
Wall’s prowess as an offense-creating extraordinaire is, and always has been, far from unsurprising. From day 1, Wall has always managed to make the most of what he’s given, even when it’s damn near next to nothing. He made the most of Nick Young in spite of his persistent fadeaway heaves from the corner, and he did what he could with Jordan Crawford in spite of Crawford’s sick knack for enforcing himself in ISO on just about every other possession.. He made a sharpshooter out of Martell Webster and he got Trevor Ariza paid. He couldn’t do jack with Jan Vesley but that’s also why Jan Vesely no longer resides in America. Time and again throughout his career, John Wall has proved that he can make ends meet with whatever assets he’s provided.
This last month of December is not very different as it pertains to the cast of recipients of Wall’s assists. Wall totaled 187 assists in December. Fifty of those assists went to Marcin Gortat, who is always expected to be the biggest beneficiary of Wall’s passes. But besides the ‘almost-a-star’ Gortat, who exactly is it that John Wall is able to find for all these scores? Prepare for your fondness of John Wall to reach peak exponentiation when you glance at the names and numbers.
Frequency of John Wall’s passes to teammates in December:
17.5% of his passes were thrown to Jared Dudley.
14.8% to Garrett Temple.
13.8% to Marcin Gortat.
12.5% to Otto Porter.
12.1% to Bradley Beal.
11.0% to Ramon Sessions.
8.6% to Gary Neal.
That’s not a very charming lineup of guys to be passing the ball to all the time. Really, there’s no knock on any of those guys, they’ve all played very well at one point or another, well, because John has allowed them to. But let’s be honest. For John to be as good as he’s been in December, having to work with an average-at-best supporting cast is really what makes him so much more greater, and so much more valuable to his team than any other player in the league. LET’S JUST BE HONEST.
We mentioned Gortat as the top client of the John Wall Dish Service, so now let’s look at who else rounds out the list.
Players John Wall found for buckets in December:
Dudley – 29 assists.
Porter – 28 assists.
Temple – 19 assists.
Sessions – 12 assists.
Beal and Neal – 11 assists.
Being an able shooter alongside John Wall might be one of the easiest jobs on the planet next to a Walmart greeter. But it’s still almost unreal that Wall tallied the most assists in December, beating out the runner ups Ricky Rubio by 34 assists and Chris Paul by 48, with basically an assembly of reserves. A good percentage of Wall’s assists came by way of catch-and-shoot buckets from beyond the 3-point line.
John Wall assists that were 3’s:
Dudley – 16 of 29.
Porter – 11 of 28.
Temple – 11 of 19.
Sessions – 7 of 12.
Kelly Oubre was a recipient of 11 of Wall assists, and 9 of them resulted in 3-point buckets.
What’s alarming is the amount of John Wall assists that could have been. Within Washington’s style of offense, more often than not the shots John Wall creates for his teammates are pretty open ones. His drives to the rim absorb defenders, leaving guys at standstill by their lonesome around the perimeter. Still, Porter missed 19 three’s in December, Temple missed 22, Beal missed 15, Neal missed 11, and Sessions missed 10. But I guess this is me just being greedy with the lemonade now so let me fall back.
Porter, Temple and Neal’s 3-PT shot chart in December
John Wall is Poseidon among point guards. It’s not his numbers that prove it. It’s the type of players he’s been working with to create those numbers that prove it. I mean, come on, Ryan Hollins is averaging 1.6 points per game this season and even he was found by Wall on one play. The Wizards won only 8 games out of the 16 they played in December, which is the truest testament to their depleted lineup, regardless of how well Wall managed to play with them. But nevertheless Wall will continue to squeeze out unripe lemons and churn out more lemonade, even if the taste is less favorable.