Perhaps it's his elite athleticism, ever-improving jump shot or his lockdown defense, but John Wall doesn't get the respect he deserves as a passer.
When asked to list the best passers in the NBA, most people accurately list Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio, LeBron James and even Stephen Curry as the league's best facilitators. Maybe Wall is listed among the current greats, but his passing has been one of the most consistent elements of the 23-year-old's game, and it's one of the biggest reason why the Wizards are enjoying their best season since 2008.
In 35 games Wall is averaging a career-best 8.6 assists, third best in the NBA behind Paul (11.2) and Curry (9.3). He's also third in the NBA in secondary assists per game (1.9) and is third in assist opportunities per game (17.6), meaning he's finding teammates for good looks despite the Wizards shooting just 44 percent as a team. Those combined numbers mean Wall has been responsible for 20.5 points per game on his assists. Take that number with his 19.6 points and Wall is responsible for more than 40 of Washington's 98 points per game.
Turnovers have always plagued Wall's game -- he's averaging 3.6 turnovers in 219 career games -- but the passing numbers stand alone. Wall has used that lightning-quick first step and stellar vision to become one of the league's best passers.
And that's not the only area where Wall is playing better. Though his field goal percentage numbers are down from a year ago, he has added a 3-point shot to his arsenal in 2013-14, much like Bulls' point guard Derrick Rose did in Chicago. Wall is averaging more than one 3-pointer per game on 32 percent shooting; his 42 makes from beyond the arc are almost as the 49 he made in his first three seasons combined.
That added versatility has been a warm welcome to the Wizards, who also tout solid outside shooting presences in Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster. The Wizards are 16-19, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference, and though they've lost five of seven, the rotation is getting back to get back to normal after Beal missed nine games with a leg injury.
Wall's passing will be on display tonight as the Wizards take on the Bulls on CSN Chicago. You can catch all the action, beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Mark Schanowski and Will Perdue will get you ready for the game, and they'll have highlights and analysis after on Bulls Postgame Live. And check out Bulls Pulse during the game, using #BullsTalk to get interactive on Twitter.