Point GOD: John Wall
“I told y’all n*ggas, then I showed y’all n*ggas. You can’t knock it.” Those lines from Jay-Z’s verse on Beanie Sigel’s It’s On puts John Wall’s last 7 months into summation. For years, John Wall has repeatedly stated that he’s as good as any point guard in the NBA; this year he can make a case that he’s been better. However, Wall’s rise to the cusp of superstardom hasn’t been overnight, he’s been really good for some time now. Wall has been an All-Star every season since 2014 and was arguably the best point guard in the 2015 playoffs before a broken hand kept him and the Wizards from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite two consecutive All-Star seasons, Wall’s run in the realm anonymity reached its peaked during an injury-riddled 2016 season for the Wizards that left the former Kentucky star at home during the playoffs.
Wall entered the 2016-17 season recovering from double-knee surgery, as he and the Wizards were an afterthought in the minds of many basketball pundits. Washington and new head coach Scott Brooks, started the year off on pace for another forgotten season with a 2-8 record. Most teams would’ve started preparing for a long year, but Wall and the Wizards stayed the course, becoming the first team in NBA history to reach 15 games over .500 after starting the season 2-8. During their resurgence, Wall emerged as arguably the best player in the Eastern Conference that wasn’t born in Akron, Ohio. Finally 100% healthy, the Raleigh, NC native averaged career-highs in points (23.1), assists (10.7), steals (2.0), field goal percentage (.451) and double-doubles (50). Alongside a healthy Brad Beal and the continued development of Otto Porter, Wall led the Wizards to a 49-33 record (their highest win total in 38 seasons) and the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
After earning his fourth All-Star selection and securing his first spot on an All-NBA team, Wall has taken his play to even higher heights in the playoffs. Matched against his much-hated counterpart, Dennis Schroder, in the first-round the Wall-Star dominated the Hawks in six games. In Game 6, he finished with 42 points & 8 assists, showing that he’s capable of putting a team on his back when it matters most. Against the #1 seed Boston Celtics, Wall has continued making the 2017 NBA Playoffs his coming out party. Through four games the series is tied 2-2, and Wall has been the best player on the floor. He nearly matched Isaiah Thomas bucket for bucket in Game 2, going for 40 points (IT had 53). In the last two games in D.C., Wall has won the point guard matchup, convincingly. Through the first 10 games of the playoffs, Wall is averaging 28.8 points and 11.1 assists, becoming the first player to post 20+ points and 7+ assists in 10 straight postseason games.
At just 26 years old, Wall is entering the prime of his career and is forcing his way into the best point guard in the league conversation. Wall is somehow faster with the ball and a better decision maker than Russell Westbrook. He’s more physical and a better defender than Steph Curry (Wall was 2nd Team All-Defense in 2015). He’s proven he can lead a team to success in the playoffs unlike Kyrie Irving. He’s much bigger than point god Chris Paul and he’s mastering the midrange game that CP3 has made his bread and butter over the past few seasons as well. Furthermore, unlike CP3, in this year’s playoffs Wall has shown that even though he’s a pass-first point, he will be overly aggressive throughout the game if necessary. Thus far, he’s shot over 20 times in 7 of the Wizards 10 playoffs games. He’s even exceeded the 30-shot attempt mark during that stretch.
The only area where Wall falls miserably short amongst his peers is star power (he hasn’t had a shoe contract since 2015). However, if Wall can stay healthy, all signs indicate that Rich Paul and Klutch Sports will upgrade that part of his portfolio as well. Since entering the league as the #1 pick in 2010, questions have constantly surrounded Wall and his game. After years of battling injuries and flying under the radar, this year Wall has finally put the questions and doubts to bed. It's John Wall’s time – just like he said would it be.