Sorry John Wall, No MVP

Hearing John Wall say he wants to be in the MVP conversation for this upcoming season makes me wonder if Wall is aware of the history of the award. Does he understand who wins the MVP?

The MVP award is presented to the player that has a flawless individual season, is on the best team, overcomes a particular narrative, and is better than just about everyone else in that year.

That Wall wants to be included with the best players in the NBA when he is just a tier below in offensive abilities falls in line with Wall saying he values fame over money. Fame brings money and a MVP puts you at the top of the NBA food chain. So in that vein, Wall is setting the bar high for himself and perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Wall still is not a complete basketball player. As a shot maker, he is hit or miss, hot or cold, average or just god-awful. There isn’t a game where you can pencil in John Wall for 20. Or, 45% shooting. Or, making a bunch of three’s in a row.

The last MVP to average less than 20 points a game was Steve Nash. Nash’s first MVP season, the Suns won 62 games in the hyper-energetic 7-Seconds Or Less offense while the dazzling Phoenix perimeter show ran rings around everyone else, revolutionizing the league. Nash was the undisputed leader and he shot 50%+ in his MVP years. No one anticipates the Wizards winning 60 games, not in a conference with the Bulls and the Cavaliers, and those grueling Western Conference trips on the schedule. No one thinks Wall will shoot 50%. Add to that, John Wall seems prone to getting hurt at the wrong time.

John Wall is a very good point guard, an excellent passer, a dynamic driver and finisher. He has good mental toughness; he plays with an edge, often angry. He is a very good, bordering on great, defensive player and he is only 25 years old.  But his scoring is his major flaw and the primary roadblock, what is keeping the Wizards from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.

In last year’s playoffs, Wall shot 17% from three. Teams sagged off of him on the perimeter, he jacked shots up, the shots missed badly, the rebounds were long, the Wizards were facing a fast break.

Wall’s failure at being a consistent scorer has killed his efficiency rating. It falls within the range of good players not great. And only great players win the MVP.

Last year the two MVP candidates, James Harden and Steph Curry, averaged 27 points and 23 points respectively. Wall averaged 17.6 points. Last season, Harden had a Personal Efficiency Rating of 26.7. Curry’s PER was 28.0. Wall’s was an okay 19.9. As the chart illustrates, Wall lagged behind the front runners in Offensive Win Shares (OWS), a metric which calculates how many wins a single player produces for his team with his offense.


 John Wall  James Harden  Steph Curry
 PPG  17.6  27.4  23.8
 PER  19.9  26.7  28.0
 OWS  3.6  12.2  11.5
 WS  7.8  16.4  15.7
 3-Point%  30%  37%  44%
 Points Scored  1387  2217  1900


For the Wizards to have any hopes of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals, Wall has to improve on his offensive consistency. He lags way behind Curry and Harden, and where he is extremely vulnerable is in perimeter shooting. He’s not a three point shooter but he’s not extraordinarily accomplished from any other distance either. How well Wall has improved over the summer on his shot selection and accuracy will demonstrate how close he is to being the MVP of the league.

John Wall Shooting (2014-15):

  • 0-3 feet: 61%
  • 3-10 feet: 40%
  • 10-16 feet: 41%
  • long 2’s: 39%
  •  3-pointers: 30%

Although he takes numerous shots for it, Wall’s self- confidence is higher than Mt. Everest. Earlier this summer, he was a little ticked when Reggie Jackson of the Detroit Pistons got a max deal, making more than John Wall.

“People talk about me getting $80 million, now you got people getting $85 million that haven’t made the All-Star (Game) or anything like that. I guess they came in at the right time. That new CBA kicked in, and they’re good now. Reggie Jackson gets five years, $80 million. I’m getting the same as Reggie Jackson.”

Wall has better numbers than Jackson in points, assists and rebounds, and he has  a better PER. Wall has worse numbers than Curry and Harden, and he has a worse PER. Those are the guards in the NBA that matter, not Reggie Jackson.

And this matters too: continually losing in the second round of the playoffs and transforming into the East Coast version of Chris Paul. That is a more significant reality than a regular season award

photo via llananba