Like most of you, we were genuinely shocked when it was announced on Thursday that John Wall was leading Eastern Conference guards in All-Star votes so far this season. After last season, when John Wall struggled to get more votes than the injured Derrick Rose, we weren't feeling very optimistic. But clearly, things have changed for the better for Wall this season.
It's an amazing turnaround for a player who doesn't play in a major market and didn't boost his profile by changing teams. But when you stop and examine things, there's two pretty clear reasons why John Wall has made such a rapid climb up the All-Star ballot leaderboards this year.
1. Wall finally has national attention
It started last year at All-Star Weekend when John Wall won the Slam Dunk Contest. Adding that small title to your resume can go a long way in convincing voters to put your name down on the ballot. Everyone wants to see good dunks at the All-Star Game.
Last season's playoff run also gave John Wall the chance to play in front of a national audience, something he lacked earlier in his career. The Wizards' playoff run spilled over into more national games on ESPN and TNT this season, as well as more endorsement deals for Wall. We've seen how Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose's stars have collapsed upon themselves, and John Wall is now filling that vacuum for a healthy star guard in the Eastern Conference.
Plus, Wall is certainly getting some sentimental votes as people have learned more about his character over the past month. Try to watch this video without wanting to vote for John Wall 100,000 times.
2. John Wall leads Eastern Conference guards in PIE
This season, the NBA decided to sort where players are listed on the All-Star ballots by PIE (Player Impact Estimate). Here's how PIE works, according to NBA.com:
PIE measures a player's overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games they play in. PIE yields results which are comparable to other advanced statistics (e.g. PER) using a simple formula.(PTS + FGM + FTM - FGA - FTA + DREB + (.5 * OREB) + AST + STL + (.5 * BLK) - PF - TO) / (GmPTS + GmFGM + GmFTM - GmFGA - GmFTA + GmDREB + (.5 * GmOREB) + GmAST + GmSTL + (.5 * GmBLK) - GmPF - GmTO)
So when people are submitting ballots online and don't have a vested interest in who starts at guard for the East, they're probably just going to opt for the first person they see listed, because they assume they must be pretty good. Well, when that happens, here's what they see:
Certainly, Raptors fans could point to a number of all-encompassing stats where Lowry looks better than Wall, but PIE is the one NBA.com chose to go with, and thus, Wall gets the extra nudge from the way the ballot is set up.
Long story short, John Wall is getting more votes this year because more people are realizing he's a great player and great person. That works for us.