The NBA goes through phases or cycles, as most sports do. There was once a time when the back-to-the basket big man was king and every team wanted one, the game was played inside out. In this time, a team just won a championship as a “jump shooting” team, which offended some of the oldest fans of basketball as that’s not what they grew up accustomed to. The league is in a great place at the moment, it’s truly one of the special ages for guards. Point guards to be specific, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver and Rob Mahooney undertook the massive task of ranking the top 100 players in the league the past couple of seasons. Last year, they ranked Washington Wizard point guard John Wall at 31.
Wall had issues with the rank, as with any list players have a good idea of where they fit in the league’s landscape. Wall had every reason to be upset with his ranking, he even commented on it over social media and referenced it at media day last season when asked a question from My Mind on Sports own Michael Sykes II (question is asked 22 seconds into video).
“Add 31 to it” is what Wall said to start his response to Syke’s question. That 31 is in reference to last year’s Top 100 list as mentioned above, this year’s list was released this week in sections. Yesterday, rank 30-11 was shared. Two of Wall’s teammates made this year’s list in the bottom half as Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat were 62, 63 respectively.
Last year the SI duo didn’t have glowing remarks on Wall’s game even though they did point out that he was in an exclusive club with Stephen Curry and Chris Paul in averaging 19 points and eight assists. Still their review on Wall was focused mostly on the negative, a couple of other young point guards were ranked higher than him and they didn’t exactly make a ton of plays for their teammates. Wall is the Wizards engine, without him it doesn’t run well or run at all for that matter. If a couple point guards can be applauded for scoring 19, 20 points a game then a young floor general should be commended for creating for others no matter if he struggles with his shot.
Credit must be given as Wall was given a much higher ranking this season by the SI duo. Washington’s floor general continued to grow last year, showing that he’s an incredible playmaker and a game changer on the defensive end. Why the percentages don’t show it, Wall was much better at attacking on the offensive end. Obviously when shots don’t go in, it’s easy to say that a player is struggling, but he seemed to get to his spots and take “his” shots. Which is a great improvement for a young player, here’s what Golliver and Mahooney had to say about Wall in this year’s breakdown:
Let us eat crow. We were wrong about John Wall, who came in at No. 31 on last year’s list and promptly laid waste to our modest expectations. Wall matured quickly as a steward of the Wizards offense. Defensively, he evolved from a guard with great size and timing into a stout team defender capable of championing a system from within. Seasoning has brought restraint and that restraint a ticket to high-level stardom. Consider this a course correction.
Last season, Wall proved his worth while showing the rest of the league that he’s definitely a member of the top echelon of floor generals. He averaged 17 points, 10 assists, and four rebounds last season. As the SI piece shared, Wall was second to only Chris Paul in secondary assists last year. A true playmaker, its not everyday young point guards are revered in anyway to the maestro that is Chris Paul.
Obviously John is far from a complete product, but it’s about time that fans on a national level realize that he’s near the top of his position. If he is able to find something he can hang his hat on or go to on the offensive end, it’s over for any defender that tries to stop him. The Wizards will literally go as far as he takes them, it’s on his teammates to complete their end of the deal, make shots when John creates one for you whether it’s his assist or a secondary assists.
While much of the attention heading into this season is on Bradley Beal and the organization coming to an agreement about him receiving a max contract or not, don’t forget to enjoy the outstanding conductor that is John Wall. It’s easy to overlook the extraordinary when it’s made to look routine, many have done that with Chris Paul, not really appreciating what it is that makes him so great. John’s only 25 years old, don’t do the same with him, especially if you’re a Wizards fan.