The Washington Wizards are flailing at 7-13, but John Wall is having a career year, averaging a personal-best 24.1 points per game and desperately trying to infuse a spark into his struggling team every night.
The three-time All-Star whose dopeness often gets lost in an NBA that is rich with prolific-scoring combo guards, had a career night on Tuesday. Wall stroked and shaked and baked and surged and shimmied his way to the basket in a plethora of fashions and ended up with 52 points in a 124-116 loss to the Orlando Magic.
Wall kept a lifeless Washington squad in the contest by pouring in 33 points in the second half as the Wizards cut the lead below 10 in the fourth quarter. The unheralded guard made 18 of 31 from the field and added eight assists.
With scorers like Klay Thompson and Steph Curry and Russell “Triple Double” Westbrook and 2015-16 NBA Champion Kyrie Irving leading the litany of high-scoring, multi-faceted NBA guards who are also winning, Wall’s accomplishments on a sub .500 Washington squad aren't registering on the superstar meter.
Wall’s like that guy at the playground that everybody knows is crazy nice, but the team he’s on rarely wins and he plays against these teams who all have like two guys that can do what Wall does. And they are REALLY popular with the crowd.
Fans of the under-touted player often envision the possibilities of him playing with another team of rim-rockers, as a change in scenery and an upgrade in surrounding parts would finally allow everyone to see the full extent of his court savvy and championship swag.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Despite a career that has seen him average an all-star-dripping 18 points, 9.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game, Wall has only enjoyed three winning NBA seasons. The basketball gods didn’t bless him with a LeBron James as they did Kyrie Irving. I believe that If it was Wall who got to play with King James instead of Irving, then we’d be talking about Wall as a clutch, offensive monster who has come into his own as the best point guard in the game. He'd also get more props for his ill defense.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
At times, Wall has been a nightmare for squads. He’s already averaged two seasons of double-digit scoring and assists and he’s close this season. Writers and media members alike have acknowledged his underrated greatness and his flaws, which include an inability to burst through the door of elite recognition as an individual superstar.
Franchise players, who make mega bucks are expected to deliver on those greenbacks and win a few playoff series.
It seemed as if Washington was one of the NBA teams on the rise as a beasting backcourt comprised of rising stud Bradley Beal and ex-Kentucky baller Wall led the Wizards to two consecutive playoff appearances and fifth-place conference finishes in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
(John Wall has work to do in Washington)
The backcourt is still intact and putting in that work every night. However, the past two seasons consistency, chemistry, health, closing games and effort has been a problem.
And quite frankly, in this new NBA, where every night a baller is going off on a career-high scoring barrage, Wall knows that he won’t get his props if his team continues to flop. There’s too many prolific pill pushers on championship-caliber teams for the NBA to hook its marketing machine and All-NBA accolades to Wall.
Klay and Kyrie and Westbrook have had phenomenal games on prodigious stages -- for the world to see. If you don’t have NBA League Pass and don’t live in DC, then you won’t grasp the totality of Wall’s emergence into one of the game’s elite players.
He’s caught in a tough spot right now. He obviously wants to win. He doesn’t have the squad. People already expect him to get his numbers every night, so nothing he does in the way of explosive scoring outputs, especially in a loss to a miserable opponent like Orlando, is going to be raved about.
As far as team goals go, Wall bluntly expressed his displeasure after losing to the Magic, who entered the game averaging just 93.2 points and scored under 100 in 16 of their first 21 games.
“Not even defensive effort, just playing hard,” Wall said. “Our job is to wake up and just play hard. Before you made it to the NBA or got a college scholarship, you played hard every day to get to where you wanted to. To still be talking about playing hard, that’s something that you should be able to do after just waking up.
“Our job is to come here and play hard and compete,” Wall said. “That’s the easiest thing that you should do without any contracts or any money, just come in and play basketball.”
Sounds like Wall is looking forward to 2019 when he becomes a restricted free agent. The 5-year, $85 million deal he signed with Washington has two years left on it.
I really wish there was a way we could just put guys whose magnificence deserves a break in fortune all together on a few teams and rescue them from their misery. If we could take John Wall and Anthony Davis and pair them together with a Zach Randolph and Kemba Walker...you get my drift.
In late November, Sacramento Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins talked about forming a Super Team with fellow Kentucky ballers Wall and Eric Bledsoe.
“Do we ever talk about playing with one another? Is that your question? It’s come up,” said Cousins. “They’re going to all come to Sac. Come to Sac.”
Cousins won’t be a free agent until 2018 but he is currently adamant about wanting to remain with the Kings. (John) Wall won’t be a free agent until 2019.
“He wants me here,” said Cousins about Wall. “Eric (Bledsoe) wants us in Phoenix.”
Cousins at least has the thought process correct. Wall’s best chance of playing on an elite squad and getting his proper due is to form his own Super Team. King James and KD opened the doors for guys to blatantly ring chase and unfortunately -- the way today’s fans, media and NBA tastemakers basically label you a nothing until you get on a team good enough to win a championship -- it probably would be in Wall’s best interest to follow suit. Otherwise, he’ll always be considered a guy that's "mad nice too," but a cut below the best.