With John Wall in the lineup, the Washington Wizards have been a pretty good team and had he not missed so much time at the beginning of the year, there’s a good chance they’d be a playoff team right now. In any event, Wall is having the best season of his young career and has silenced many of the doubters who were starting to view him as a bust. The excellent play of Wall this season begs the question of where he ranks among the top point guards in the league.
Based on how he’s played recently, he just might be one of the 10 best in the league. Wall doesn’t rank among the super-elite company of Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook, but he might not be as far off as you think. As I mentioned in a piece I wrote last week, Wall’s value to the Wizards is immeasurable. They were 5-28 without him and they’ve gone 22-18 since he’s returned. The degree to which he helps the team is ridiculous and unmatched by many of the players in the game. For comparison’s sake, Rose has missed the entire season and the Chicago Bulls are still a playoff team. Granted, this has more to do with Chicago having a great supporting cast and an excellent coach than anything else, but still, Wall’s value to the Wizards is quite impressive.
Let’s compare Wall to some of the other young point guards in the league who have gotten more hype than him over the past few years. One of the biggest knocks on Wall is that he’s a poor shooter and while that has been true at times, he’s still much better from the field than Ricky Rubio, who ranks among the worst in the NBA in that category. So far this season, Wall has shot .443 from the field, a career best, while Rubio is at an embarrassing .374. Rubio’s excellent passing makes up for this to some extent, but the fact that Wall gets blasted for his shooting so much while Rubio has gotten a relative free pass seems a bit hypocritical.
Now, let’s compare Wall to Kyrie Irving, who is regarded as the best young point guard in the league and someone who will be right up there with Rose and CP3 before too long. Irving’s talent is undeniable, but Wall isn’t as far from him as you’d think. While Irving holds a clear lead in points per game (23.3 compared to 17.3 for Wall), the other categories make things a bit of a wash. Wall is averaging two more assists per game than Irving (7.7 to 5.7) and while Wall has composed a winning record with the Wizards when healthy, the Cavaliers are 17-33 when Irving plays. Irving might have more overall talent than Wall, but he has yet to translate that ability into a solid record for his team.
The Wizards don’t get a lot of media hype and you won’t see them on ESPN too much, so Wall’s improvement may have gone unnoticed by some fan. Still, he’s really taken off this year. Is he a top 10 point guard? It’s hard to say. The only players at the 1 position I would definitively rank higher than Wall are CP3, Rose, Westbrook, Parker, Stephen Curry, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams. That would mean the highest he could possibly rank is eighth, although he would get tough competition from Irving, Mike Conley, Damian Lillard and Brandon Jennings. In any event, Wall has established himself as one of the better point guards in the league and he has an extremely bright future.