Week 20 in the NBA season was highlighted by former Kentucky star John Wall. The league announced on Monday that Wall had been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
In four games, Wall led the Washington Wizards to a 3-1 record while averaging 24 points, 11 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. He also shot 62 percent from the field, 80 percent from behind the arc and 86 percent from the foul line in one of his best weeks since turning pro in 2010.
The third-year pro became the first player to produce those numbers in a four-game stretch since the league implemented the 3-point line in the 1979-1980 season.
Wizards head coach Randy Wittman credited the Wizards' up-tempo team mindset as the secret behind Wall’s individual success.
“John has done a terrific job with our pace the last week to 10 days,” Wittman told the Washington Post after the Wizards defeated the Suns 127-105 on Saturday. ”When we play at that pace, offensively, we’re hard to defend.”
Wall had yet another impressive performance in the blowout victory, scoring 17 points and handing out 11 assists to go along with five rebounds and three steals.
“It’s great to have knock down shooters when you get in the lane,” Wall said. “Any type of point guard that’s got somebody around them that can knock down shots, makes the job easier for them. Because you can’t really help off them, and then when you get consistent knocking down jump shots, you take your game to the next level.”
Since their star point guard returned to action on January 12, the Wizards have fought their way back to an 18-14 record. A .563 win percentage would project the Wizards as a 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but unfortunately Wall missed the first 33 games of the season due to a stress-related injury to his left knee. The Wizards were a league-worst 5-28 in his absence.
On a bit of a low note, multiple former Wildcats have gone down with injuries in recent days. Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins suffered a left quad contusion last Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks and is still listed as day-to-day.
Patrick Patterson stepped up in the absence of his former college teammate, moving into the starting lineup for the first time since being dealt to the new-look Kings.
“He finds a corner, he hits the open shot,” Tyreke Evans told the Kings’ ESPN affiliate in regard to Patterson. “So when his man is in the paint, he hit a couple shots and you gotta get out there and stick him on the perimeter. And that helps out for us to get out to the basket.”
Evans is another Calipari product dating back to his last season at Memphis.
Patterson finished the game, in which the Kings abused the Bulls 121-79, with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Three more former UK stars, Eric Bledsoe, Keith Bogans and Brandon Knight, are currently out of uniform for their respective teams.
Bledsoe has served the majority of the 2012-13 season as the Clippers’ electrifying spark off the bench. However, the emerging star has missed three consecutive games as he continues to recover from a left calf injury.
Bogans, the Brooklyn Netss veteran guard, is listed as out with a sore left ankle for tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons, who themselves will be without starting point guard Brandon Knight.
Knight sprained his left ankle in the opening minutes of the Pistons matchup between the Utah Jazz last Monday. The second-year pro remains sidelined and is listed as day-to-day according to Pistons representatives.
Monday, March 18
Utah Jazz (Kanter) vs. New York Knicks 10:30 p.m. on ESPN
Wednesday, March 20
Brooklyn Nets (Bogans) @ Dallas Mavericks 8:00 p.m. on ESPN