SLAM Top 50: John Wall, No. 10

The self-proclaimed "best point guard in the Eastern Conference" cracks the top 10.

By

John Wall will be a top-10 player in the NBA this season.

There are two types of people in the world: People who know that statement to be true, and people who simply refuse to acknowledge it. (Don’t be friends with those people.)

Wall carried the Wizards to the brink of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance (right up until Kelly Olynyk turned into Larry Bird) on the strength of the best numbers of his seven-year career. He posted career-highs in Win Shares, points (22.9) and assists (10.5) in 2016-17, shot his best-ever field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, and was the only player besides James Harden and Russell Westbrook to post 20+ ppg and 10+ apg. His scoring jumped to just over 27 ppg in the playoffs, including a 42-point, 8-assist, 4-steal, 2-block performance to close out the Hawks in the first round. Meanwhile he led the NBA in steals, and once again cemented himself as the best chasedown block artist in the League not named LeBron James.

He’s always been an athletic freak, able to finish with power or finesses, with either hand. He’s always been a blur, faster with the rock in his hand than 99 percent of other guys are without it. And he’s always been one of the fiercest competitors in the game. Finally (!) he earned some much-desreved recognition in the form of an All-NBA nod last season. All that after having surgery on both knees prior to the 2016-17 season. And now, with the knee troubles in his rearview and a big new contract in his back pocket, he’s primed for an even more impressive 2017-18 campaign.

So, yeah, John Wall has had a lot to say this summer.

Called himself the best point guard in the East. Called himself the NBA’s best two-way PG. Mused in interviews about Kyrie Irving’s curious trade request, and on social media about the absurdity of superteams.

Well, damn, you may be thinking. But, OK, two things here:

One, John Wall’s been brutally honest with the media when it’s come to sharing his thoughts—and like most stars, extremely confident in himself—since he entered the NBA. Which is to say, if you’re surprised by anything he’s said this summer, you just weren’t listening until now.

Second, and more importantly, these aren’t just some outlandish empty quotes coming from a middling player. (Like, with all due respect, the ones made recently by Michael Beasley.)

You can’t clown Wall’s statements because you know deep down they very well could be true when we look back in a year. He could be ranked no lower—even by his biggest haters—than about 15th on a list like this. If you’re upset about Wall being ranked too high, you’ll probably cite his purported struggles in halfcourt offensive situations, or perhaps you’re among those still clinging to the corny ass “he can’t shoot” crowd (no, he’s not Steph Curry with the shot, and never will be, but he’s improved steadily and significantly).

You may be salty that Damian Lillard and Chris Paul appeared before Wall on our countdown. The way the Western Conference has transformed this summer, Dame’s team could very well miss the postseason, whereas Wall’s is realistically eyeing a trip to the East Finals (a round the franchise hasn’t reached since the ‘70s). And, in CP3’s case, just remember that this is a ranking for the 2017-18 season, not a lifetime achievement award. By the time the playoffs roll around, Paul will be 33 years old, not to mention he’s on a brand new team, and he’ll have to adjust to playing alongside Harden, who had one of the League’s highest usage rates last year. Wall, meanwhile, was top-5 in the NBA in minutes last year for a team that’s built around his talents, and he’s in the prime of his career.

Say it with me now: John Wall will be a top-10 player in the NBA this season.

Abe Schwadron is the Managing Editor at numberFire and a former Senior Editor at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter @abe_squad.

Previous Rankings:
2016: No. 17
2015: No. 12
2014: No. 18
2013: No. 24

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2017-18—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

No. 50 – Dion Waiters
No. 49 – Ben Simmons 
No. 48 – Brook Lopez
No. 47 — Harrison Barnes
No. 46 — Jrue Holiday
No. 45 — Lonzo Ball
No. 44 — Myles Turner
No. 43 — Goran Dragic
No. 42 — Andre Drummond
No. 41 — Al Horford
No. 40 — LaMarcus Aldridge
No. 39 — Kevin Love
No. 38 — Paul Millsap
No. 37 — Hassan Whiteside
No. 36 — Andrew Wiggins
No. 35 — Marc Gasol
No. 34 – DeAndre Jordan
No. 33 — Bradley Beal
No. 32 — Kemba Walker
No. 31 — CJ McCollum
No. 30 — Devin Booker
No. 29 — Nikola Jokic
No. 28 — Joel Embiid
No. 27 — Mike Conley 
No. 26 — Kyle Lowry
No. 25 — Rudy Gobert

No. 24 — Gordon Hayward
No. 23 — Kristaps Porzingis
No. 22 — Carmelo Anthony
No. 21 — DeMar DeRozan
No. 20 — Blake Griffin
No. 19 — Draymond Green
No. 18 — Chris Paul
No. 17 — Klay Thompson
No. 16 — Jimmy Butler
No. 15 — Isaiah Thomas
No. 14 — Karl-Anthony Towns
No. 13 — Damian Lillard
No. 12 — DeMarcus Cousins
No. 11 — Kyrie Irving

Comments

comments powered by Disqus