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The impact of John Wall and the return of Andrew Bynum

Since John Wall has returned from injury, the once dreadful Washington Wizards have gone 6-4, with a scoring differential of nearly +6 points per game. This provides a good look at the impact a potential superstar can have on a team, and why

Rob Carr

While preparing for tonights 76ers game against the Washington Wizards, a few things jumped out.

First, the Washington Wizards were dreadful without John Wall. 5-28 record with a scoring differential of -7.8 points per game. They couldn't defend, couldn't shoot, didn't get to the line, and really didn't do much of anything all that well. Hence the 5-28 record.

Since Wall returned? 6-4 record with a +5.8 differential during that span. The competition may not have been all that great, but they did get solid wins over the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and Atlanta Hawks during that span.

Their offensive rating shot up from 93.1 to 102.1. The played at a quicker pace (by nearly 3 possessions per game), and were appreciably more efficient (52.2% true shooting percentage vs 48.8% in the 33 games before Wall).

Why the improvement? Wall is clearly a talented player, but so far he's only been playing 25 (very effective) minutes per game. His per-36 minute averages of 20.7 points and 9.4 assists, to go along with a 20.8 PER, 0.123 WS/48, and 52.5% true shooting percentage are all career highs.

More importantly, it's the shots he's creating for his teammates.

Wall's speed off the pick and roll and the attention he receives because of that generate open look for big men Emeka Okafor, Nene Hilario, and Kevin Seraphin, but Wall's struggles shooting jumpers off the dribble still limit his overall effectiveness in this sets and prevent him from being as effective as he could someday be, and the Washington bigs are far too prone (for my liking) to settle for jump shots when dives are available, so the pick and roll threat isn't the biggest one Wall provides.

It's when Wall gets into the paint that his effectiveness is readily apparent.

Before Wall returned, Bradley Beal shot 36.7% from the field and 32.3% from the three point line in 31 games. In the 10 games since, he's shot 46.8% from the field and 47.4% from three point range. That improvement is staggering. Beal went from being an extremely inefficient shot creator to an extremely efficient off the ball threat, and the looks Wall and company have been getting him have drastically helped.

Martell Webster has seen a similar uptick in efficiency. He's shooting 55.7% from the field and 45.9% from three since Wall came back, up from 40.9% from the field and 39.8% from three beforehand.

One of the more telling stats was that without Wall 14.5% of all three pointers made were unassisted. With Wall in the lineup, that's fallen down to 4.6%. Role players having to create drastically decreases their efficiency.

Not surprisingly, Washington is also getting the line considerably more (23.7% free throw rate before Wall returned, 26.8% after), another factor helping Washington's offensive efficiency.

Obviously, playing the Wizards with John Wall and without are completely different animals, and how the 76ers will prepare is drastically different.

More important long term, however, is the impact one player can have on the overall fortunes of a team. While you watch the 76ers, with all their splendid faults and imperfections, keep in mind one player can change a lot of that. Do not overreact to an obviously incomplete roster, and do not make long term evaluations on players who are trying to fill roles they are not suited for. Players whom are now greatly struggling -- I'm looking at you, Dorell Wright -- once another dominant force is added to the lineup to draw attention and they are placed in their proper role, those same struggling players can turn into pillars of efficiency and productiveness.

Hold out hope, 76ers fans. Andrew Bynum is dunking. In practice.

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