John Wall has always had the ball in his hands — he’s been the one controlling the dribble and directing teammates and signaling plays while weaving through defenders his entire basketball career, which extends pretty far back if we’re going to even count his adolescent days of recreational play and even the backyard and streetball games. But the Washington Wizards are asking their franchise player to do something that he’s never done before — play off the ball.
This may come as a shock to some fans of Wall and the Washington Wizards, who have seen their team thrive with Wall controlling the ball and even amass some veritable wins, enough to garner the Wizards as possible contenders for the Eastern Conference crown most years. Yet, coach Scott Brooks has a different kind of offense in mind for this 2018-2019 NBA season that may change things up a little. Brooks' goal, as reported by The Washington Post, is to get the ball to move in a way that creates more than one passer, which should foster more scoring opportunities for different players and thus, possibly, more offensive output.
It is a sound theory, and coaching decision. So far, despite it being really the first time for John Wall to literally play off the ball, the all-star guard seems OK with it. Wall has gone on record to say, “I’m fine with it because I worked on my game a lot, coming off pin downs, shooting threes… It’s going to give me more opportunities to be more aggressive and score where I don’t have to be trying to score off the same plays.”
Wall’s approach and enthusiasm for the change seems an added bonus and if he can truly succeed then his candidly expressed desire of wanting to win MVP could very well happen within this new role.
Coach Brooks emphasizes that John Wall is still their play-maker and that he doesn’t necessarily want his role as ball handler to diminish but rather to be complemented by the new off-ball role. Brooks said, “He remains the leader of Washington’s offense.”
In the Wizards latest preseason outing against the New York Knicks, John Wall led the team to a 100-98 victory. In that win, Wall finished the game with 14 points and nine assists. As the preseason winds down and the new season gets ready to begin, for the Wizards it’s going to be about an old dog, if we can call Wall that after eight seasons in the league, learning new tricks.