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Monday, October 8th, 2012 at 12:00 pm  |  42 responses

Top 50: John Wall, no. 38

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17

When I cast my votes for this poll about a month ago, I put John Wall at…

Eighteen.

I voted Kyrie Irving 14. At the risk of ruining everyone’s suspense, you can know that Kyrie did NOT come in that high, and, even before he got hurt, the group voted John much worse than 18. And once we learned that Wall would miss the first month of the season, Ryne and I moved him down even further because the missed games inherently lessen his value. So here he is on the SLAMonline Top 50 at No. 38.

Now, what’s the deal with me being so high on John? For one thing, as my confidence in Kyrie should show as well, I’m all about quick, offensive-minded point guards. Rule changes have helped players such as this a ton in recent years, plus these two are flat-out good players.

Writing about Kyrie is someone else’s job, though. As for John, I feel like some people are ready to view him as a disappointment, primarily because of the expectations placed on first overall picks. But I think his NBA career thus far has actually followed a very understandable path, especially in its proper context.

John played 69 games as a rookie and all 66 of last season, and his stats were remarkably similar both years. So, I present to you his career stats, which for all intents and purposes can be considered his “Extra-long Rookie Year Stats”: 16.3 ppg, 8.2 apg, 4.6 rpg and 1.6 spg. A PER of 16.7. Forty-two percent shooting from the field, 78 percent shooting from the free-throw line and 24 percent from downtown. You know what else was similar in both of John’s seasons so far? The crappy teammates and questionable leadership on both the Wizards’ sideline and front office.

This “franchise” took a 19-year-old kid (who, as you may or may not know, was an incredibly late bloomer by modern recruiting standards and had maybe nine months of any type of serious spotlight on him before he spent his one year at Kentucky) and made him the floor leader for a team “coached” by Flip Saunders that was trotting out Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Those guys all had possible value in specific roles on good teams, but in Washington they were the team.

The Wiz started cleaning house last year (including on the sideline), but it was still a circus. I frankly think it’s amazing John has averaged as many assists as he has. Of course, his shooting percentage is a little lower than you’d like, but it’s not like anyone on the team was making him better, and again, dude had very little experience at this level.

I like how John Calipari, who knows a lot more about great guard play than me put it a couple weeks ago: “You took a 19-year-old and put the weight of the world on him, saying to him, ‘We’re expecting you to drag this team to another level.’ Well, there are no young guys [who can do that].”

Saunders’ replacement, Randy Wittman, doesn’t do much for me either, but he seems to have at least created a more serious atmosphere around the team. Plus, every player I mentioned above has been jettisoned, with the still-mediocre DC roster at least now boasting solid vets such as Nene and Emeka Okafor, along with mature and promising rookie sharpshooter Bradley Beal.

Even before Wall got hurt I’m not sure the Wizards could win more than 32 games, so it’s not like I’m seeing a massive improvement in their win-loss record. But I think this is a team on the right track. There won’t be guns in the locker room. There won’t be dudes running back on defense when the point guard is trying to set up a play on offense.

For the first time in a long time, focus with the Wizards will be entirely on basketball. And in every sense—from a fantasy perspective to a fun-to-watch perspective to the simple fact of him learning the game—John Wall will benefit from that focus. This guy is 22 years old and he boasts pretty much the exact size, speed and skill set you want in a lead NBA guard in 2012.

As long as John makes a full recovery from his left knee injury, I think this has the makings of a very solid season from him. And just watch, a year from now the thought of voting him 18 for this list won’t seem strange at all.


Where should John Wall rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6
39 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 11
38 John Wall Wizards PG 9

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    .Good write up Ben, i always enjoy when y’all say where you voted the player and put an explanation behind it.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    .I knew I had to have forgot someone in my top 50, turns out to be J Wall. smh.

  • ctk

    Irving better be 37 …he does nothing better than Wall but shoot from range n change pace …Wall got him n everything else better passer,rebounder,defender,faster,stronger,n finisher

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Irving plays under control. That’s the biggest thing.
    .
    Oh and they both finish equally well at the rim.

  • ctk

    do u think Irving should be MUCH higher than Wall

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i just edited my top 50, i have John Wall right here at 38, and Irving at 29. idk if you consider 9 spots “much” higher or not. — as it seems much higher, but really, there isn’t a big difference between 25 and 40

  • danpowers

    true. but defense seems to be a non-factor when ranking and evaluating a point guards performance since nash won 2 (still smh on this figure) mvp awards.

  • TR

    Irving is way better than john wall in my opinion. Wall has spent the last couple years underachieving and not practicing. I dont even think he should be on the list honestly. Maybe the 15-20 best pg in the league at best

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Defense has always been an afterthought in the SLAM top 50

  • ctk

    underachieving based on what …16/8 is only done by 3 people …gets u 4-5rebs ..n underrated on D

  • ctk

    ok i can see that ….understand the logic all day

  • JR

    Andrea Bargnani disagrees with you.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    sho

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i said afterthought, not irrelevant.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    use logic, and tell us 15 PG’s better than Wall…..good luck.

  • spit hot fiyah

    irving also has been more clutch, so far

  • spit hot fiyah

    logic has always been an afterthough in the slam top 50

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    the slam staff does ok with their top 50, certain aspects of it (like why some players get seemingly undue praise) you have to just understand as part of the business. it’s a lot of commenters who ignore reason.

  • Datkid

    I spent about an hour and a half trying to explain this to people on twitter SMH

  • KipSmithers

    Does Wall even have a nickname? I vote John “The Underrated” Wall.

  • Datkid

    only reason I’d put Irving ahead of wall is bc Wall is injured right now honestly. but he’s in not worse than irving in any real concrete way.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Performance is a pretty concrete way. Irving was better last year than Wall has been in either of his 2 years.
    .
    Just look at their Per 36 minute numbers, the only thing Wall does better is get assists and play defense.
    .
    And Irving is a far more efficient offensive player. Not even kind of close.

  • TR

    paul,dwill,westbrook,irving,nash,rondo,curry,lawson,rose,parker,rubio,jennings..thats 12..so maybe i over shot,but i think all those guys are better than him…Wall hasn’t improved his game at all over the last 2 years, i see the Wiz on a nightly basis. Just facts. If he adds a decent jumper, better decision making and displays some leadership he’ll be great, but today…right now…no

  • TR

    rubio and jennings got cut off

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    How is Jennings better than Wall? And Lawson? How about Jrue? I said USE LOGIC. So, where is the logic? Is it Jennings scoring 4 more points…..while not playing any defense? Is it Lawson shooting 6% better…..while not playing any defense? Or is it Jrue, playing slightly better defense (in a much better system) while doing a lot less offensively?
    .
    You can watch John Wall everyday of your life, if you can’t see that scoring 16 points and getting 8 assists a game, while being a decent to good defender with a supporting cast that doubles as a pile of rotting garbage in their spare time, is a good thing, then you can’t really be taken as a good judge of talent.

  • JR

    I know I’m being a homer, and I also hate to play the “I can’t believe Slam didn’t put Player X on their list” game; but I can’t believe Kyle Lowry wont make this list. At the very least he’s better than Tyreke and Jennings (and you could make the case with Rubio and Curry). Not to mention he’ll be given A LOT more responsibilities then ever before this season.

  • TR

    @nbk Lawson was the best player/leader on a playoff team that took it to the Lakers, Jennings actually is getting better every year and is quicker/better shooter/smarter with the ball and i didn’t mention Jrue…I’m not saying Wall sucks, maybe this is his year, but he hasn’t proven anything. Do you want me to justify the other 10 guys i mentioned too? Or are those self explanatory?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    who is ru? i thought you meant to type Jrue.
    .
    Lawson was on a way better team than Wall. You really think if you replaced Lawson with Wall that the Nuggets would get worse?
    .
    And Jennings is improving, but there is still no reason to say he’s better than John Wall. He doesn’t pass as well. He doesn’t defend as well. He doesn’t really do anything but shoot better from 3.
    .
    And yeah, the other 10 are very logical, i have no issue with them at all. Except I disagree about Rubio & Curry, but i ain’t gonna harp on it.

  • TR

    @NBK Rubio and Jennings got cut off in my initial post…You put any of the guys I mentioned on the Nuggets and they either get better or stay the same so that doesn’t mean much…I don’t think Walls sucks, I just think right now, his skills aren’t on par with Jennings or Lawson. i mean 90% of his shots are in the paint and he shoots 40%…TP shoots 90% of his shots in the paint too and shoots 50%..I just think the dude could get better/more efficient and work on his game

  • TR

    nbk: @NBK Rubio and Jennings got cut off in my initial post…You put any of the guys I mentioned on the Nuggets and they either get better or stay the same so that doesn’t mean much…I don’t think Walls sucks, I just think right now, his skills aren’t on par with Jennings or Lawson. i mean 90% of his shots are in the paint and he shoots 40%…TP shoots 90% of his shots in the paint too and shoots 50%..I just think the dude could get better/more efficient and work on his game

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    No, no, you can’t just take stabs at facts. I will always double check them. Saying Wall Shoots 90% of his shots in the paint and still shoots 90% is to say, literally, that you don’t watch John Wall.
    .
    John Wall shoot 9.4 of his 13.5 shots from between the rim and 9 feet, which is 69% of his shots. And he shoots, about 50% from the total distance. (60% at the rim – same as lawson)

  • TR

    @nbk i said he shoots 90% of his shots in the paint and still shoots 40% overall..i was estimating and I wasn’t terribly off, a couple shots a game. You cant deny the fact that Wall is inefficient bro.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I didn’t say he was efficient. I said he’s not as bad as you are making him sound. Plus you are citing Brandon Jennings, it’s not like efficient is a good route for your argument.

  • TR

    @nbk i didn’t say he was the second coming of chris whitney or anything, just that he’s not a top 50 player and not a top 15 pg, which i admit may have been a slight exaggeration. I also said he’s underachieved, which i think he has for a #1 pick and that he doesn’t practice, which he’s said himself. You’d be frustrated too if this was the guy/team in your local network.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I have the same criticisms of him and understand the frustration. But, He’s still a top 50 guy though, especially now that his teammates aren’t the combined mental age of eleven. His numbers are worthy of the top 50 anyway.

  • ctk

    There gon be a guy top 10 n this list n considered top3 pg at worst n the league …n Wall won 2 less games than him …NO POINT GUARD n this league would of took the Wiz nowhere these last 2seasons …NOBODY

  • TR

    @nbk talent wise, no argument.The good numbers are really good, just wanna see it all come together i guess.

  • spit hot fiyah

    i was actually refering to commenters, i like the list. but like u said, defense is pretty much ignored. and unfortunately a lot of commentors don’t seem to understand a, the list is the sum total of the slam staffs rankings. b, it’s a projection for the upcoming season. if that was understood by all, the comment section would be much cleaner

  • GanjahLuv

    I too dont get the irving slobjob..he is a lead guard more than PG. 5 assist a game from a PG and were supposed to be impressed?

  • Omar

    The only complaint that I have is that Lawson should be higher than Wall but I thought he was going to be way too high and this is about right.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    thanks nbk

  • http://twitter.com/Jzakoni Verified Account

    told ya’ll kyries better then wall

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