In a couple hours, we should learn that John Wall will be the franchise's first All-Star since Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison in 2008. That is, if everything is right with the NBA world.
There's no question that Wall deserves it. He played at an All-Star level once he returned from injury last year, and his jumper, ability to change speeds and defensive pressure have all improved. Statistically, only Kyle Lowry really has been his peer among Eastern Conference guards, and Lowry, though great, does not carry the huge playmaking burden that Wall must carry for a team that is deficient with other shot creators. His team is experiencing some success, at least more than most other candidates.
Almost everyone that has specifically been asked has endorsed Wall's candidacy for New Orleans. That includes Randy Wittman:
"I think there is no doubt he's an all-star," Coach Randy Witman said. "I'd be very disappointed if that's not the case. He's worked, improved. The team has improved. I think it's a foregone conclusion, to be honest with you. I don't know anything, but I'd be really disappointed if that didn't happen."
"John Wall is playing at an all-star level, obviously a guy that has different gears, an improved shooter, creates havoc on your defense by penetrating, pushing the ball, one man fast break...the thing about him is he's so fast, so deceptive, so strong, good size, big time finisher...I think he's been under the radar, people have been waiting for him to have a breakout type year rather than appreciating that he's been very, very solid for a while now and I think right now he's playing on a different level."
Frank Vogel called John Wall "an all-star point PG." Said Bradley Beal would get consideration, too, if not for leg injury #wizards
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) January 11, 2014
Indiana Pacers Coach Frank Vogel and Chicago Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau have already declared that Wall is an all-star
"He runs his team well. He runs the break as well as anyone," Cheeks said. "He just has taken his time, and picked up the little nuances of the game and coupled with his ability to get to the rim, he has learned how to shoot the ball and when you have a guy with the quickness that he has, with the ability to get to the rim and then he picks up the jump shot, I think it is pretty dangerous. He plays the game at a nice little speed now and I said to some people, ‘This guy is good now.’"
There's always a chance it doesn't happen and Wall's spot instead goes to Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Joe Johnson, Lance Stephenson, Arron Afflalo and others. But it'd be surprising and wrong.
And if Wall makes it as expected, he'll do so knowing that this should be the first of many. Tom Ziller had a great feature this morning on the value of narratives in All-Star selections, suggesting that we judge selections based on merit, not storyline. He's right.
But of course, narrative is crucial to the Wizards' ultimate goal of attracting more buzz, so actually being an All-Star is important for the franchise's future. Tom broke the different All-Star narratives down into three, and this one seems to fit Wall's more than any other.
For the young players, that first All-Star nod is a coronation. Consider Paul George's entry last year. When he made the team, everyone knew it would be the first major honor of many. It's so exciting to witness a young star rise, to stand with LeBron, Carmelo, Durant, Kobe and the other living legends of the game, to wear those warm-ups while some band or DJ pumps a steady beat into an arena filled with corporate suits looking for pitchmen and celebrity fans hoping the camera swings their way. For guys like Anthony Davis -- who might be a future MVP -- we want to just get the recognition started already. It's obvious he'll be an All-Star many times. Acknowledge that, and let's celebrate him in front of the home crowd in New Orleans.
Wall is not Davis, but he's not too far off. If Wall gets selected as he should, it's another step forward in making this market desirable. Here's hoping it works out as expected.
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