5. John Wall
John Wall is the driving force behind the Washington Wizard's recent success, as his impressive play has assisted Washington in clinching their first postseason berth since the 2007-2008 campaign. When Wall first entered the league, many had lofty expectations about the former Kentucky standout, as the days of Gilbert Arenas had concluded. Wall seemed to promise a new era of dominance with his blazing speed and freakish athletic ability, but the dreams of immediate success proved to be highly unrealistic for Washington.
When first introduced to John Wall at the NBA level, fans gazed eyes upon an extremely gifted athlete at the point guard position, who had all the potential in the world, but had to dedicate himself to honing those skills to be considered truly great. Now, in his 4th season as a Washington Wizard, the energy he has exerted into becoming a better basketball player is finally starting to become evident.
Wall could've been overcome by frustration, in the world of basketball where majority of fans have a short memory, the only recollection fans had of Wall and the Wizards were embarrassing losses and immature antics. After the Wizards distanced themselves from these egocentric, sophomoric players, that not only plagued their cohesion but their number of losses in their overall record, it came to Wall's attention that the potential this team possessed could be maximized if he fully committed himself to being the main cog.
John Wall has been at the helm this year, and what's most impressive is the maturity and control he's displayed in being "that guy." Wall duels his foes with a plethora of emotion in addition to the aforementioned incredible athleticism that makes him such a tough draw at the point guard position. Wall has not only been able to corral this emotion effectively, but in doing so has garnered the attention of the other players in the locker room, and many NBA fans.
The 23 year old could've grown frustrated with the former infantile players that cluttered Washington's roster, or even worse he could've easily joined them due to being such a young player. Instead, he staved off all temptations of being snatched up by that trap and realized what he needed to do to veer off of that dangerous path that eventually results in early career flame outs. Wall generated a fair amount of composure emotionally, and put a strong emphasis on what he yearned to accomplished: reaching the postseason.
His patience, hard-work and dedication has finally paid off, and fans are interested to see how Wall reaps the benefits of the bright lights being on and nationally TV show casings that come with the NBA Playoffs. If his regular season numbers are any indication, Wall will fare pretty well.
The North Carolina native is averaging 19.6 PPG (career high,) 8.7 APG (career high,) and 4.2 RPG. He's shooting 43% from the field and 35% from downtown. Wall's shooting percentages aren't upper echelon numbers that would have him mentioned among the likes of Kevin Durant or LeBron James, but his three point shooting percentages are reflective of the hard work he's put in to become a more lethal player.
Wall shot 26% from three last season. The year before that? .71%. The year before that? Wall connected on just 29% of his attempts from behind the arc. This year, Wall has drilled 107 three pointers, combine the previous three years, and the total number of three pointers made for Wall is 49.
Wall was named an all-star this year, has posted the second highest PER of his career, (19.6,) and has almost doubled his defensive win share totals as they sit firmly at 3.9, up from his 2.2 of last year. John's PPG puts him at number 5 among point guards, and his assist per game is third among point guards. Like it or not, John Wall is asserting himself, and the Wizards are in the beginning stages of bathing in the success they could potentially have for the next five plus years or so.
This year, Wall has been one of the top point guards in the league, but lack of national TV exposure, media coverage and eye popping highlights make this hard to depict. It's important for fans to show recognition to Wall, as he's done everything in his power to amass the attention of fans worldwide. If he hasn't accomplished this fully yet, the playoffs remain his greatest chance. All eyes will be watching, critiquing every move, every dribble and every play made. The importance of each possession, and the intensity become synonymous as they both become heightened. This playoff appearance is the beginning of a hopeful long, successful career for Wall. This is just the commencement of what Wall hopes to be a franchise altering legacy in Washington. Becoming a top 5 point guard this year is a fantastic start for Wall, and a scary thought for the rest of the league.
Do you guys think John Wall is a top 5 point guard? Who are your top 5 point guards in the league? Hit me up on twitter to share your thoughts (@wcboyer24) and remember to continue to support The Basketball Society.