SLAM Top 50: John Wall, No. 17

Yes, as a journalist, I recognize the important of being objective, looking at facts and numbers, and keeping myself out of what I write. Blah, blah, blah.

But, at least for this piece, screw all that. Far too many people are disrespectful to John Wall, which, to me, is dumb as hell. And to be honest, I don’t even agree with him being ranked 17. He deserves to be higher, but more on that in a second.

Watching Wall play ball is the equivalent of watching a rollercoaster trapped in a speeding 18-wheeler with no brake lines. The man is so. Damn. Fast. Watching Wall on a fast break is as much of a pleasure as watching Stephen Curry catch fire from three. But his speed is nothing new. He’s been balling this way since high school (his Hoopmixtape is the best of all time, not up for debate).

While his natural basketball abilities are electrifying, and have no doubt already inspired kids to fall in love with roundball, he’s worked on his game to become one of the League’s most complete point guards. On any given night, Wall can be the most physically imposing, most skilled passer and best defender on the court. And he’ll Kodak you with no hesitation. That’s a deadly concoction.

Wall’s passing skill is otherworldly. He’s capable of throwing LeBron-esque crosscourt passes, across his body, to shooters in the corner, delivering the ball with pinpoint accuracy. He runs one of the best pick-and-rolls around, operating as a midrange threat, a willing (genius) passer and a rim-attacking nightmare. He was third in assists last year and second the year before. Last year he had 52 games of 10 assists or more, ranking him first in the NBA.

And, yes, he’s become a reliable shooter. He hit 186 middies last year. His three-ball got better, too. He made 115 shots from distance, the most of his career. His 1.9 steals per game was also the best number of his career.

He plays both sides of the ball without a conscious. The only thing in his head is winning.

His passing, his defense, his improved shooting, his rabid desire to win. Think about how fast his body is going when he’s out there. We can see that. We can’t see how quickly his mind is processing everything. But we see the results.

Put all of John Wall together and you’ve got one of the League’s best point guards. The passing of Chris Paul. The defense of Joe Dumars. The IQ of LeBron James. The finishing of Isiah Thomas (we got love for you too, Isaiah). Athleticism that can only be matched by Russell Westbrook.

Yet he’s at number 17, behind a few guys who wouldn’t last a second against him one-on-one (no, I’m not naming names). He would take their heart, just like he’s planning on taking the entire League’s heart this season. And he probably has a few dumbass journalists who always, always, always doubt him that he’d like to have some one-on-one time with, be able to detonate a dunk on them.


2010: 47
2011: 25
2012: 38
2013: 24
2014: 18
2015: 12

2016: 17

SLAM Top 50 Players 2016
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Ben Simmons 76ers SF 9
49 D’Angelo Russell Lakers PG 12
48 Derrick Favors Jazz PF 12
47 Devin Booker Suns SG 8
46 Chris Bosh Heat PF 11
45 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 7
44 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 11
43 Serge Ibaka Magic PF 10
42 CJ McCollum Blazers SG 6
41 Pau Gasol Spurs PF 9
40 Rudy Gobert Jazz C 9
39 Kevin Love Cavs PF 8
38 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 7
37 Kristaps Porzingis Knicks PF 6
36 Kemba Walker Hornets PG 10
35 Dwight Howard Hawks C 8
34 Hassan Whiteside Heat C 7
33 Gordon Hayward Jazz SF 8
32 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 9
31 Andrew Wiggins T-Wolves SF 7
30 Dwyane Wade Bulls SG 5
29 Paul Millsap Hawks PF 5
28 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
27 Al Horford Celtics C 5
26 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks SF 6
25 Isaiah Thomas Celtics PG 8
24 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 4
23 DeAndre Jordan Clippers C 4
22 Andre Drummond Pistons C 3
21 Kyle Lowry Raptors PG 7
20 Karl-Anthony Towns T-Wolves C 2
19 Jimmy Butler Bulls SG 3
18 LaMarcus Aldridge Spurs PF 4
17 John Wall Wizards PG 6

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2016-17—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

Follow the entire SLAM Top 50 countdown.