To all Wizards, we finally celebrate John Wall receiving his 1st All-Star appearance in his 4th season. Wall has stepped up his game and is taking more responsibility in improving his pacing and willing to shot when comfortable (whether we like it or not). It has paid dividends thus far as we will strive (or at this current pace limp) to a projected 42-40 record which will give us our first winning record in since the 2008-09 season. It has been a rough road since Wall was drafted. We tried to surround his with developing players (Young, Blatche, McGee, Crawford) until we learned that they were not only knuckleheads but weren't driven like Wall was. Trial and error, I guess. While this supporting cast isn't the greatest, it is the most balanced roster I've seen being a Wizards fan (note: been a fan since 2005 and unable to go to a bar, I'll leave it at that). However, there is a still a cloud that hangs over his successful season. Wall was passed over as the All Star starter and a roster spot on Team USA to....................................Kyrie Irving(sigh).
As I am watching the NY Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers matchup, I continually see the promos parading Melo and Irving as a prime time game against two Eastern Conference powers. In reality, this is a game of two sub-.400 dysfunctional teams that have been looked over other deserving teams because they have superstars. Well, one of them is. Nevertheless, I find it hard to give a player the superstar label when they haven't elevated a team to a Conference Final or at least playoff contending level.
This is the conundrum with Irving. He has looked like the same shoot-first PG that made the analysts swoon with his 3pt shooting since his rookie year. Since then, it looked as if the fame was being handed to him: All-Star Starter appearances, #8 ranked player in the NBA(another reason why not to trust ESPN), high end endorsements(Nike, Pepsi), and being claimed as a top 5 PG before this year without averaging 6 assist per game. Really? I will not go into a lot of the statistics in this post but will give articles of others that have noticed the same issue:
This was my favorite quote from the first article posted:
"At some point, winning has to matter more than All-Star games, 3-point shootouts and even USA Basketball," Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote. "At some point, if Irving wants to be considered the best in the league, he has to win."
Eventually, this will come up. I'm not going to bash Irving as a person for I am sure he works just as hard as Wall to be the best. He just had it easier; that is not debatable. For the flaws John Wall received for his poor shooting and only being able to play in one speed, Irving was condoned for his poor defense, inability to run an offense and make his team better until now. Both players haven't pushed their teams above 30 wins in a season since being drafted, though this year is looking pretty good for us. Both have front offices that are notorious for shooting themselves in the foot and coaches that other teams would bother to have(Just look at Wittman's coaching career numbers). What's the difference?
Wall improved and Irving hasn't. Wall is winning (to a degree) and Irving isn't. No amount of marketing, PR or media spin will hide the shortcomings Kyrie is experiencing now and Cleveland fans are noticing. It's just now, so are they:(http://www.fearthesword.com/2014/1/30/5361840/kyrie-irving-wants-out-of-cleveland-chad-ford). Both fanbases are supportive of their respective point guards claiming our is better than theirs and vice versa. That is how it should be, but more and more Cleveland fans are bit envious of our situation. It's not that Wall is better at shooting (which is becoming an overused method of evaluating a PG) or
is more flashy just as flashy as Irving. Wall doesn't have all the accolades Irving has but there is a few things Wall does have that Irving lacks:
......He is winning and making his team look good while doing it.
And that is what any fan would want. They had enough of the promos and primetime games on TNT and ESPN as they watch their team get exposed to the national audience. It's depressing and as fans of a slightly less dysfunctional team, we should know how it feels. I can say that for all the drama we had here, some places have it worse including Cleveland. And the blame should not be fully put on Irving as we don't put all the blame on Wall for the failure of McGee, Blatche, Young and Crawford. But when you're the franchise player (sadly when you are as young as 21(Irving) & 23(Wall)), the blame is put on you but when you add all the accolades Irving had, everyone expects you to play better. Much better than 16-29.
I always felt that Wall and Irving were neck-and-neck as they have a different playing style which makes it hard to evaluate at times. But with Wall nearly scoring as much as Irving (almost averaging 20 pts with 8.5 assists per game), what does Irving have? He is shooting more and making less, which is driving Cleveland nuts.
In a sport that idolized the individual traits of shooting, flashiness, promoting 1-one-1 matchups and removing defense, centers or anything slowing the game down, when does winning matters? Melo is still receiving flack for being a offensive savant but unable to take his team past the 1st rd of the playoffs (I'm predicting it won't happen this year). Kyrie will eventually face the same scrutiny. I will evaluate this rivalry again when the season is over, but I can say today that Wall has surpassed Irving. And do Irving's dismay, Uncle Drew can't save him now.
.........but he can make it entertaining(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spDdO_ZB-lE)