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John Wall: People see me as a No. 1 pick who hasn’t done anything

Feb 11, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

John Wall, LeBron James

Professional athletes love to talk about all the people who don’t believe in them, even if everyone believes in them.

Some get creative. Throughout his NBA career, Michael Jordan referenced a high school coach cutting him. That was because nobody really doubted Jordan during his time at North Carolina and with the Chicago Bulls.

But most athletes don’t get as deep as Jordan. They just imagine the haters or embellish the voices of a small minority of Twitter followers.

However, when John Wall says people don’t properly recognize his accomplishments, I actually think he has a point.

Wall, via Chris Miller of CSN Washington:

I think they still still see me as a skinny kid from Kentucky that got drafted No. 1, that hasn’t done nothing or proven nothing in this league. I think just making this first All-Star Game still doesn’t get me a nod.

I think I respect the coaches and those guys that give me the the credit for seeing I worked on my game and I’m getting better.

But until I make it to the playoffs and win a series and keep improving, I haven’t done nothing in this league

Wall, despite having the most-honored rookie year in his draft class, got off on the wrong foot for a No. 1 pick. The two No. 1 picks preceding him (Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose) and one proceeding him (Kyrie Irving) won Rookie of the Year.

Why didn’t Wall win the award? Griffin was injured and missed what would have been his first season, delaying his rookie season a year. Had Griffin not got hurt, Tyreke Evans – not Wall – would have been without a Rookie of the Year trophy, and Wall would have immediately been recognized as a budding star.

I’m not sure Wall – in perception – has ever recovered from the absence of that award on his resume.

Wall, who’s still just 23, has gotten better each season of his career. Yet, he’s still criticized for stagnating – most notably with his jumper. But Wall has made 37.1 percent of his shots between 16 and 24 feet this season. That’s better than Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson and Jarrett Jack.

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Wall’s All-Star appearance should change the narrative a bit, but he knows what it will really take: winning.

Asked about his greatest accomplishment so far, Wall said getting above .500. That was a real and justified moment of pride for the Wizards, who hadn’t even momentarily possessed a winning record in years. But for the best accomplishment of a career, it’s just sad.

Wall is on the right track – improving as a player and leading his team to its best record in years. The Wizards should make the playoffs, and as long as they get a top-six seed, they’ll have a coin-flip chance of winning their first-round series.

That would drastically improve the perception of Wall, at least temporarily. Then soon enough, people will be asking why the max-contract player hasn’t won a championship, and the cycle will begin anew.

  1. eugenesaxe1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    That’s partially true. He/his team hasn’t done anything.
    He himself has become an All-Star.
    You can’t blame him for WASHs failure.

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Sure you can. Great players make those around them better. Wall has started to reach his potential though, so time will tell.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        Yeah, great players do indeed do that. Wall isn’t great. He’s good, very good, and getting better, but not yet great. And it helps if the players around him are halfway decent to start with, and can stay on the court.

    • spthegr8 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      He has gotten better this yr. Jumper has come along way ( still has a ways to go ) his assist’s are up and he has become a really good free throw shooter. He is just scratching the surface but, he is taking step’s in the right direction. Having Ernie as a G.M. & Randy Whitman as a coach can stunt ANYBODY’S growth!! Just Saying”!!!

      • eugenesaxe1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:39 PM

        LOL@Grunfeld/Wittman. Truer words have never been spoken.

    • antianarxi - Feb 12, 2014 at 12:37 AM

      no PG alone in the league can take his team to victory in the playoffs, this is no different for Wall. the players around him are mediocre, NOT champioship material. Wall will ride out his contract with Washington then go to a real team with championship hopes… ( Celtics?)

  2. romestar82 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    is career has hit the “wall”

    • ranfan12 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:42 PM

      that would probably be more appropriate if he was on his way our of the league. Can’t really say that while he’s in his 20s and signing a max contract >_>

  3. ranfan12 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    People think the same of kyrie with that overall 32% wins since he joined them. Hard to lead the team as a point guard it seems. Took a good number of teams a bit of time to reach their high point. Took bulls a good number of years to gain the right players before they dominated the league for good couple of seasons (before failing in the playoffs lol)

    • sumkat - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      not saying that neither of those guys can’t or won’t be superstars, but I am saying I don’t think either WILL be. For goodness sake, Holiday made an all-star game last year, was just as young (or younger) than both, and isn’t talked about as a budding superstar.

      And, if you ask me, he had less talent around him than either of those guys have around them (as evidence by how awful they are this year, with an identical roster except swapping Holiday for MCW).

      IMO, both of these guys (Irving and Wall) have a ceiling of being very good NBA players. I haven’t seen anything from either of them that would show me they are ever going to be superstars. If you ask me, both are just hype machines from a league always desperate for the next superstar, so instead of letting a guy’s play make him a star, they do it before the play ever really deserves it

  4. aboogy123456 - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Wall reminds me of Lebron at this point in their careers. Both of them are unbelievable freak athletes who can get to the rim at will and find the open teammate. The way to play them is to give them a ton of space and let them shoot. The other night I saw Batum, a really good defender, guarding wall and giving him wide open 3’s and long twos. Once lebron made teams honor the shot, he became absolutely unstoppable and there’s really no answer for him. I know Wall has been working hard and improving his shot, but his fundamentals are still off and he fades away too much. If he can make teams honor the shot, then he will be unstoppable as well.

  5. thomaskouns - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    I don’t disagree. If you are going to claim your the best PG in the NBA the least one can do is make into the playoffs for the first time let alone 1) multiple times 2) second, third or finals 3) multiple All-Stars 4) An All-Defensive Team 5) On & On.

    He hasn’t made it to the first round of any playoffs once…

  6. musketmaniac - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    just like his last college game. remember that great freshman team that Wvu waxed.

  7. sportsfan18 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Compare John Wall’s stats, career and for this season to Stephen Curry’s of the Warriors.

    Curry is the better player. Curry signed for 4 yrs for $44 million and Wall signs for the max contract.

    Curry’s PER is better for their careers and for this year.

    Let’s not even discuss shooting percentages (except I’d like to mention that Wall’s career 3 pt percentage is a whopping .284% – max money folks, max money).

    Curry scores more than Wall does per 36 min’s of court time in both their careers and this season.

    Curry has higher win shares than Wall does, by a good amount actually.

    Curry is basically right there with Wall in turnovers, assists and rebounds.

    I’m NOT hating on John Wall as he’s very good but I find it odd that he’s a max contract player when others like Curry are better than he is, produce more and get much less.

    It really just goes to show that on certain teams, if they’re bad and you’re the best they’ve got, they overpay to keep you.

    The Cavs will offer Kyrie the max although it looks like he’ll leave them anyway.

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      Kyrie will sign that max deal, the only question is what year does he get an opt-out?

    • casualcommenter - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      You’d find Curry’s contract situation less odd if you knew anything about Curry’s injury history.

      Curry was offered his deal in 2012 while he was still rehabbing from multiple ankle surgeries. He accepted that deal paying him a few million less per year because nobody knew if his ankle injury issues would ever settle down to the point where he’d demonstrate enough durability to get a max contract. When you sign deals while you’re injured, you’re not going to get a huge deal, unless you’re Kobe.

      Wall signed his deal after coming back from an injury mid-season and playing extremely well for months. The fact that he proved that he had recovered from his injury at the time of his contract offer led him to get a max contract.

      • sportsfan18 - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:47 PM

        Casual, good points and I understand that Wall returned and played after his injury.

        Still, he isn’t worth max money. So many who make max dollars aren’t worth it. The owners gave them away like candy and that was part (by no means all, but it was a part) of the last strike.

        Then being able to amnesty these bad contracts that owners allowed and agreed to was another measure put into place to help save the owners and GM’s from themselves.

        Now some players are worth max dollars. John Wall, even healthy, is NOT work max dollars, in my opinion.

        Don’t compare LBJ and Durant now to John Wall but compare their first 3 seasons to Wall’s first three seasons. This was BEFORE LBJ won a title or an MVP etc… They were worth max dollars. John Wall’s first three seasons did not justify being given a max deal.

        I know not everyone likes PER or advanced stats, but Wall’s first two seasons were in the 13’s. For his career so far, he’s a tad above league average.

        Now LBJ’s PER in his first 3 to 4 seasons were way up there. Only his first season was below 20 and it was way above where Wall is even today. LBJ’s PER in his second season was over 25.

        Fine, people will say don’t compare him to LBJ. Even compared to the league as a whole, he’s just a bit better than league average.

        My point is that too many get contracts they don’t deserve and I’m talking about within the game as we all know they get paid too much.

        Joe Johnson is way overpaid. Josh Smith is way overpaid. John Wall is way overpaid.

        LBJ, Durant, Kobe are not overpaid based on what they produce. Chris Paul produces as do many others.

    • casualcommenter - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      Also, since you don’t seem to understand free agency rules, I’ll touch on Kyrie Irving.

      Irving is playing under his rookie deal, and he could become an unrestricted free agent if he completes the entire rookie deal by accepting what’s called a qualifying offer the final year of his deal. However, given his injury history, he’s very unlikely to play for a year extra under his rookie deal because he runs the risk of suffering a serious injury that hurts his value as a free agent. He’d much rather get a max contract as soon as possible.

      That means he’ll reject the qualifying offer. By rejecting the qualifying offer, he ends his rookie deal and become a restricted free agent in 2015 instead of an unrestricted free agent in 2016. As a restricted free agent, he can ask for a bigger deal, but he won’t be allowed to reject the Cavs’ max offer if they make one due to the CBA rules.

    • ranfan12 - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      They probably plan to keep him like a team does with someone who at least has potential to improve, and bring in decent players around him (or an “elite” player). That’s what the clippers did with griffin. Clippers had only 19 wins the year before they drafted him. Slightly improved to 39% after getting him, and then when a better crew arrives (including cp3), they rocket to 60% and haven’t looked back since.

    • bjswoosh805 - Feb 11, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      If Curry is with the Wiz then he would’ve gotten that max deal and if Wall is with the Dubs then he would’ve gotten Curry’s current deal w/ the warriors. The point is the Wizards had a lil’ more wiggle room financially than the Warriors did,considering the fact that warriors have former all-stars Bogut, Lee and Igoudala in their roster. I know Wiz has that 65 mil contract for Nene which i consider being overpaid, but other than Nene and Wall the rest are decent paid players.

    • nickjackalson - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      John Wall CAN defend Steph Curry,
      Steph Curry can defend John Wall, once he breaks a leg…

  8. wowwowbad - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    He hasn’t had some quality teammates, even now. Trade for Gortat was a mistake, with Okafor in the line-up, the Wiz was one of the best defensive teams in the entire league. Gortat indeed bring some low-post presence especially on the offensive end, however, this is because Nene is a terrible defender and now even his offensive game has dropped. Booker is a hard worker but he is too undersized with almost no offensive game despite 2nd chance underneath the basket. Serephan isn’t quite improve as the team thought he would be and is also undersized. Vesley… well, show some flashes, but need to improve his overall game and condition, a lot.

  9. jasjbb - Feb 11, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    Who’s john wall?

    • ranfan12 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      some past #1 pick. i wonder what happened to him

  10. seanb20124 - Feb 12, 2014 at 6:26 AM

    You need a cool name to get noticed, Wall is bland, Like Joe Smith

  11. abchome - Feb 12, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    People are right!

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