John Wall Chip on the Shoulder Firmly In Tact

John Wall isn’t in the running for a NBA award tonight. Not MVP. Not Most Improved. The lack of acknowledgement on a large scale makes John Wall feel unappreciated.

The media did give John Wall a shout out. He was one of the top six guards in 2016-17, voted All-NBA third team. It was a long time coming for Wall who has had a bumpy road before notching the greatest season of his career.

Finally being identified as a top playmaker in the NBA, Wall can reap the benefits of a grandiose contract. It is not just acknowledging, a liitle bit arrogantly, how great he has become, and, that he is a superstar and the second best player in the Eastern Conference, trailing LeBron James, but the rewards Wall will receive this summer via an extension will align with his ability and the economics of the league.

Wall made the All-NBA team in his extension year so he is identified as a designated player, and can receive the supermax contract of $200 million dollars. You think Wall would be happy.

Finally, his name is being put in the same breath with Steph Curry and James Harden. And no one can argue that John Wall doesn’t understand the magnitude of $200 million. But at the same time, it is not a shut up and take the money moment.

“A guy averages 23 and 11 and almost four or five rebounds, with two steals and you are all-NBA third team?”

Wall still has a chip on his shoulder despite having arrived at this rare air place only a few athletes get to experience. A number one draft pick, Wall was supposed to get here, perhaps a little sooner. “Third team All-NBA is shocking to me. I just use those things as motivation.”

Motivation will be what he needs to carry the Wizards to contender status. Otherwise, $200 million dollars won’t cover up how it feels to continue to lose and not have a conference finals appearance.

Money, particularly the money Wall will receive, only complicates matters. The holes GM Ernie Grunfield has to fill is like going on a treasure hunt.  He has to move Ian Manhinmi; he just makes too much money for doing absolutely nothing. Festus Ezeli is a man without a country. He should be considered to shore up the Wizards back up center position. As for the starting center, Marcin Gortat doesn’t have the legs to go up against athletes anymore. He needs to be moved too. What do you do with Otto Porter, if you pay Wall? Are the Wizards willing to eat money via the luxury tax? Wall and Beal in 2017-18 will be taking home $65 million dollars. What about everyone else on the roster? Lastly, the Wizards have to fix their bench. A lack of depth is why the Wizards could not beat the Celtics.

All of that is out of Wall’s hands. He is grounded in his game and his play.

“I feel like I’ve lived up to the hype. I’m getting better and better with my career. I dealt with injuries early on but I feel I don’t get the recognition I deserve. I think people are debating what John Wall really is about.”

Granted, Wall doesn’t get cover-to-cover love. But then again this is the first year of Wall being a superstar player in which he got his shot right and led the Wizards in the 4th without game changing turnovers. Wall carried the Wiz this year. He was an undisputed leader. That has not always been the case. Wall, as he angles for acceptance, needs patience. Excellence is consistency over time, not just one season.

If it is true that people are on the fence about John Wall- and I don’t think that is the case but if it is- it is because we have seen career years before and then here they go again in the tank. Wall has to show up year after year after year. And in the NBA that means getting your team to a conference final, winning playoff games on the road, leading through adversity over and over and over.

Wall knows he is the best player on most nights when he laces them up. He wants 50 wins which is a reasonable goal. He wants to win the MVP and be All NBA first team. That means he has to perform better than Steph Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul and not just in assists but in PER, Estimated Wins he alone brings to the Wizards and Real Plus-Minus.

Point Guards 2016-17 Assists Assist Percentage PER Estimated Wins Added Real Plus-Minus (PG)
Steph Curry 6.6 31.1% 24.5 24.8 2nd
James Harden 11.2 50.7% 27.3 27.5 2nd (shooting guards)
Chris Paul 9.2 46.8% 26.2 14.6 1st
John Wall 10.7 46.9% 23.2 17.3 11th
Russell Westbrook 10.4 57.3% 30.6 27.5 3rd

Now that Wall seemingly has his injury history behind him, the Wizards problems are not necessarily solved by money but by being shrewd and calculated. Wall would love for Paul George to come to the Wizards but with two max contracts, it is tough salary cap gymnastics to make that possible. The Wizards front office acumen will be the story as now they are truly on the clock. John Wall wants assurances.

Because he wants to win right now.


photo via llananba