The Washington Wizards have something special in point guard John Wall. He is a rising, young star who is hungry for a championship and the recognition of being one of the league’s rising stars. He had quite the following when he played at Kentucky with a ton of recognition around Lexington and the country, but that hasn’t exactly been the case thus far in the NBA and around Washington, D.C. He has a growing fan base, but has yet to get the national and local attention a player of his caliber deserves.
When player rankings are discussed, they are all subjective based on one’s personal preference. When discussing the top point guards in the NBA, Wall is definitely in the discussion, but he thinks he gets overlooked at times. Wall recently told The Vertical’s Michael Lee that he is a top-three point guard in the NBA with only Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook ahead of him. He also said he should be seen on commercials and billboard due to how he plays on the court, the person that he is and the character that he has. Wall does a lot for his community, specifically the youth. He does great things on and off the court, yet can’t seem to get the national attention he seeks.
Wall is in his sixth NBA season after being a No. 1 overall selection, but has only reached the playoffs twice in the first five years of his career. That is something that doesn’t settle well with him, but is one of the reasons he hasn’t received the recognition he feels he deserves.
The Wizards have underachieved this season to say the least, due in large part to being hit by the injury bug. Washington is currently 26-30 and on the outside looking in of the playoff picture. However, there is still hope for the team as they are just three games out of eighth place, currently held by the Charlotte Hornets and six games behind the third place Boston Celtics.
Washington went out and got forward Markieff Morris from the Phoenix Suns at the trade deadline last week. That was a move that Wall was happy with and one he thinks will put them over the hump in regards to making a playoff push. The move could help them land a playoff berth, but it will take a little time for Morris to get acclimated to his teammates and new system. Once he gets past the initial stages a player goes through when getting traded, the Wizards get a quality player to help their team.
The Wizards front office wants to win this season, obviously, but have their eyes set on the summer when Kevin Durant can hit the open market in free agency. Wall also told Lee that he doesn’t want this season to be a waste and that the Wizard’s number one priority this summer is Kevin Durant. As Michael Sykes of Bulletsforever.com broke down some of Wall’s comments, he said that since the Wizards are all in for Durant, it has an effect for the current players on the team with one-year deals. He goes on to say that these players on those deals know they won’t be back in Washington if the Wizards get Durant this summer. This causes players to not play as hard due to job security, something that isn’t always guaranteed in sports. That coupled with injuries doesn’t mesh for a very successful season.
With the focus not totally on the season, it makes it hard for the Wizards to compete for a championship when the front office hasn’t moved out of neutral since making the decision to and lure Durant to D.C. this coming summers a few years back.
Wall isn’t getting any younger, but is about to enter his prime years as he turns 26 later this year. He is hungry to bring a championship to the nation’s capital. Not making the playoffs for his first three seasons is tough, which is why Wall wants to make playoff runs yearly and further solidify his spot among the top point guards in the NBA.
His numbers speak for themselves this season as he averages 19.7 points, 9.8 assists, 4.7 rebounds and a career-best 2.1 steals per game. He is an explosive player who can get his and get his teammates involved on a nightly basis. He has started all 56 games this season, despite having some minor, nagging injuries along the way. He has improved defensively and is arguably the fastest player in the league with the basketball.
Many people thought Wall and company could make a deep playoff run this season, but with key injuries to Bradley Beal, last year’s leading scorer, and Alan Anderson have hampered those expectations. Fortunately for the Wizards these guys are getting healthier as a unit and at the right time, especially since the East is relatively wide open.
John Wall definitely deserves more national and local recognition and if the health of the rest of his team as well as the Morris acquisition can help make a playoff run, he might just get that credit. Until then, he will continue to play with a chip on his shoulder and try to win that elusive championship every superstar player covets.