Losing an All-Star mid-season generally makes a team worse. But with John Wall away recovering from knee surgery, the Washington Wizards have gone 9-3 and find themselves just a half-game back of the third-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.
Washington’s solid run without Wall has been a team effort. Since Jan. 27, their first game without Wall, Washington ranks seventh in offensive efficiency and sixth in net rating. The biggest contributor to those rankings is the ball movement; Washington ranks first in assist percentage in that same stretch.
In Washington’s 49 games before this Wall injury, the Wiz ranked 11th in offensive efficiency, 10th in net rating and ninth in assist percentage.
This is not a “Let me show you how much better the Wizards are without John Wall” piece. Twelve games is a small sample size, and having multiple stars is almost a necessity to winning playoff games.
For this stretch of regular season games, however, Washington has been better. Many have taken advantage of their heightened role, but two players have specifically shined.
In his 12 games leading the pack, Beal is averaging 22.7 points (.470/.378/.902 splits), 6.8 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. The slight step back in points and increase in assists goes right along with what Beal has been saying lately: “Everybody eats.” The general mindset of the Wizards since Wall’s injury has revolved around playing more as a team, and their leader’s counting stats show that.
This has been a good time for Beal to put his skill set on full display. After years of injuries, Beal is now the healthy star leading the way for Washington.
Satoransky has been a direct beneficiary of the Wall injury, being thrust into the starting role. In 10 February games, Satoransky is averaging 12.3 points, 6.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He’s shooting 59.5 percent from the field and 60.9 percent (2.3 attempts) from three.
Just like that, Satoransky has gone from a bit bench player to possibly earning a huge role down the line – even when Wall returns from injury.
Satoransky, not requiring many touches and scoring at an efficient clip, fits in well with the other starters, He has shot 54.2 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers this season, making him a lethal threat sharing the floor with pass-happy teammates.
Washington has gone 5-2 against playoff teams since Wall’s injury. The team looks better without Wall and has played more efficiently. That is not to say they are better off without Wall; this is the regular season after all. But them remaining right behind Cleveland in the standings and holding onto a top-four seed in the East is not meaningless.
The “Should Washington trade John Wall?” conversation has picked up steam within NBA Twitter, and that’s a conversation for another day. How the Wizards play in the postseason with Wall on the floor may or may not further feed that argument, but for now, it is clear that they can stay afloat without him.