- The short-handed Wizards definitely battled and made the Thunder earn that victory. With Kirk Hinrich still out and JaVale McGee dealing with the flu, four starters (Rashard Lewis, Trevor Booker, Nick Young, and John Wall) played at least 45 minutes each. The other starter, Andray Blatche, played 31. I'm not sure that that's the best way to distribute minutes or to prepare for a back-to-back -- the Wizards face the Grizzlies tonight -- but, then again, neither is playing in a double-overtime game in which the Wizards and Flip Saunders were desperately seeking their first road win.
- Back to Booker: The rookie had 21 points and 12 rebounds and made nine of his 11 shots from the field. He did foul out after playing 45 minutes, but he should definitely start receiving consistent minutes after an impressive performance like that. Then again, with all of the injuries, he'll probably keep seeing more minutes anyway. Saunders doesn't have much of a choice.
- Wall and Young both played 52 minutes, which is both impressive and sort of ridiculous. Wall had 13 points and 10 assists, but he only shot 5-19 from the field. Remarkably, though, he didn't turn the ball over. (More on Wall later.) Young was the Wizards' leading scorer with 32 points. Unfortunately, he needed 33 shots to get those points, and he made only 13 of those attempts.
- Finishing out the starting five, Lewis had 22 points and eight rebounds, and Blatche had 22 points and two -- yes, two -- rebounds. He did, though, have three assists and three steals.
- Only two bench players -- Yi Jianlian (28) and Al Thornton (20) -- played significant minutes. Yi scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Thornton chipped in with six points. Mustafa Shakur, the team's de facto backup point guard with Hinrich out, played just six minutes.
- Other game notes: The Wizards only turned the ball over seven times. They were outrebounded 55-43 and out-assisted (not a word) 27-18. The Thunder also shot better from the field (49.4%-42.6%). The Thunder had 19 more fast-break points than the Wizards. So, basically, it seems that turnovers and sheer determination kept the Wizards in this game. I appreciate that they're battling, and at some point they're going to win a game on the road. But, seriously, 0-22 is really, really bad.
So, yeah, another tough loss for the Wizards, but what I wanted to talk about was John Wall. He needs to be making more of his shots -- he's shooting under 40 percent from the field (39.6%) -- but as a rookie who has been playing well despite not being completely healthy, he's been very exciting to watch. Out of all rookies, he's second in scoring and first in assists. What I was curious about was how Wall's season so far stacks up to other top NBA point guards' rookie seasons. Again, Wall has played in only 33 games this season, but it's not hard believe that his current numbers could stay where they are for the rest of the season.
So let's take a look:
I could have included several more point guards on this list, but I just went with those five. In terms of minutes played, only Paul and Rose really compare. Wall is averaging more assists than any of those guys did, but he's also shooting the lowest percentage from the field and turning the ball over more. Still, if Wall keeps putting up these kinds of numbers, there's no question that he should fit right in with these talented point guards.
The table doesn't include defense, and I didn't add steals because they don't necessarily demonstrate solid defense. Besides fewer turnovers and better shooting, Wall also needs to get better defensively. But that's something that comes with more experience and playing time, and it's not like the Wizards have a bunch of great defensive players behind Wall anyway. Wall certainly has the ability to improve at staying in front of his man and playing better pick-and-roll defense, and he'll get better at both. Then again, Nash isn't a very good defender and look where he is.
For what it's worth, the NBA record for most assists per game by a rookie is 10.6 by Mark Jackson in 1987-1988. In that season, Jackson appeared in all 82 games and played nearly 40 minutes per game. It would be an outstanding achievement if Wall could somehow average 10 assists in his rookie season, let alone approach Jackson's 10.6. Still, if Wall stays healthy and goes on some kind of second-half surge, it's at least possible.