Yesterday morning, an article on this site said John Wall had basically listed eight point guards in the NBA better than him. Those players were: Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Steph Curry, and Damian Lillard. But where does Wall actually fit in to the point guard rankings?
There were some notable omissions to Wall’s list such as Tony Parker, Deron Williams, and Jrue Holliday. Wall can compete with players like Williams and Holliday, but Parker is simply on a different level than Wall. At this point in their careers, Tony Parker vs. John Wall should not be a debate, Parker is clearly better. When ranking Wall, it is best to start by naming point guards clearly superior to him. Right now Westbrook, Parker, and Paul are the only three point guards in the association who are significantly better than Wall. Normally Rondo and Rose would be in the category of upper echelon guys, but due to their ACL injuries it is too risky to put them in that category. An ACL tear is one of the most serious injuries a player can suffer. We have grown accustom to athletes such as Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady and (hopefully) Robert Griffin III coming back as strong as they ever were, if not stronger. However if we look at the bigger picture, this is not the case. It is still very, very hard to rebound from a torn ACL and come back as strong as ever. Some players never return. Rose and Rondo are young, athletic guys and it is extremely unlikely that they never come back, but they may never be the same high-flying players they once were. At this point in their recovery, it is simply too risky to put Rose and Rondo ahead of John Wall.
Players like Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and Damian Lillard are known as scoring point guards, rather than true point guards who are typically pass first players. A true point guard should be a distributor, an unselfish leader of his team. Although it may be flashy to score as a point guard, it is rarely effective, only three teams since the merger have won a title with their point guard as their leading scorer, and it has not been done since 1990. Kyrie, Steph, and Damian may get media attention, and may be portrayed as stars, but until they start to look for open teammates, they will not truly be superstars. Not one of those three players averages seven assists per game, even though they all play over 35 minutes a night. Right now, even though those players are more famous, Wall is a better point guard than all of them.
Ty Lawson is a player who cannot even compete with John Wall. Despite playing more minutes than Wall, he is inferior to him in every major stat category. They have played twice this year, and wall has whipped Lawson both times, with the Wizards winning both times. He even had a game-winning block on Lawson in Denver. Ty’s only argument is that he has a better winning percentage than Wall, but he plays with far, far superior teammates. Lawson has five teammates average double figures, while wall only has three. The winning percentage of the two teams is not even that different when both are healthy, with wall in the lineup the wizards have a .561 winning percentage, while the Nuggets have a .676 win percentage. That is not that big of a difference and with Wall better in all other categories by a more significant edge, he gets the nod as being better than Lawson.
Deron Williams is in his prime right now, and leading a Brooklyn team to 4th place in the east. His stats are very similar to Wall’s, as is his win percentage. Even though the two are similar, Williams has been just a tiny bit better in most categories. At this point in his career with Williams in what should be his peak years, leading an Eastern Conference contender, he should be placed above Wall in terms of valuing point guards. I love Wall, but he is not quite as good as Williams yet. Deron has a very slight edge over Wall.
Jrue Holliday is probably the NBA player who is most similar to Wall. They are basically the same age (Holliday is three months older), they average similar numbers and have similar teammates. Holliday’s points, rebounds, and assists numbers are slightly better than Wall’s but that can likely be equated to playing more minutes per night. Wall’s minutes are down this year as a result of his injury, they eased him back, skewing his numbers and minutes. Holliday has taken a massive leap this year, experiencing significant improvement in just about every category of his game. Holliday’s teammates are slightly better than Wall’s, he plays with up and coming big man Spencer Hawes, former number two overall pick in the draft and good young player Evan Turner, as well as an extremely underrated young stud forward in Thaddeus Young. He also plays with veterans Jason Richardson and Nick Young, not superstars but decent overall players. Wall is a slightly more efficient scorer, averaging three less shots per night, but scoring about the same (17.6 to 18.4), and shooting a tiny bit higher (.441 to .443), but they are similar in these areas. The main difference is Wall is more of a winner. I already wrote about the Wizards .561 win percentage with John Wall, but I did not mention Holliday’s Sixers putrid .411 winning percentage. I would give Wall the slight edge because they have similar numbers, but Wall’s numbers are more impressive given the situation, and also John leads a winning team (at least when he is in the lineup).
The final point guard rankings are:
3. Russell Westbrook
5. John Wall
6. Derrick Rose*
7. Rajon Rondo*
. 9.Stephen Curry
11. Ty Lawson
* D *Denotes injured player, would be higher if healthy. When fully healthy, showing ability showed before injury, I would rank Rose at the two spot behind Paul, and Rondo at the five spot behind Westbrook.