For at least two years, I’ve held unpopular opinions about John Wall and where he ranks among NBA point guards. While I never actually took the time to sit down and compare the numbers and make an educated decision, I’ve always held the belief he was a fringe top-three player at his position, at least top-five. Now that Wall came out and personally declared himself a top-three point guard, I took a deeper look. As it turns out, I wasn’t wrong.
As of Saturday, Wall is averaging a career-high 19.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. His 9.8 assists per game is third in the league and almost matches his career-high of 10 from last year. As far as point guards go, Wall ranks eighth in scoring average and is more of a distributor than most of the players ahead of him. Of those, only Russell Westbrook averages more assists, 10.2, and it’s safe to say Westbrook is better than Wall. The only other point guard averaging more assists than Wall and Westbrook is Rajon Rondo, who leads the league with 12 a game. At this point in his career, however, Rondo isn’t a better all-around player than Wall.
Stephen Curry is the league’s best point guard simply because he can’t be stopped. Curry leads the league in scoring with over 30 points a game, and he’s just outside of the top 10 in assists. Chris Paul, who Wall probably matches the most statistically, is still better than Wall because of his more consistent shooting, and his ability to command the offense without as many turnovers. So, no, Wall is a little off base by declaring himself a top three point guard. That title belongs only to Curry, Westbrook, and Paul. After them, however, is where the conversation opens up.
The next best point guards to come to mind after Curry, Paul, and Westbrook, are Wall, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Kemba Walker, Tony Parker, Isaiah Thomas, and Jeff Teague. At one time, Parker might have even been a top-three point guard, but he’s not top five anymore and certainly not better than Wall. (Sorry Skip Bayless.) Walker and Conley haven’t even made all-star games yet, and while it’s a little harder for Conley being that he plays in the West – along with my top-three point guards – he wouldn’t have the same impact without those big men he plays with. Thomas is more of a scorer in a point guard’s body, and he doesn’t impact the game in other ways enough to be considered top five. Teague can’t take over a game and be a playmaker how some of the others can.
That leaves Wall, Lillard, Irving, and Lowry, competing for the final two spots of the top five. Of those players, Irving is probably the most naturally talented, but before LeBron James came back home, Irving hadn’t cracked the playoffs. He can shoot and dribble with almost anyone, but Irving doesn’t make anyone else better on his team. Of the remaining players, Wall is the only one to make the playoffs without another all-star on his team. Although Lillard looks to be bucking that trend this season, he had LaMarcus Aldridge in past playoff appearances, and Lowry has had Demar Derozan – and the Wizards swept them in last year’s playoffs. This goes to show how much better Wall makes his teammates. All things considered, I would say Wall is definitely a top-five point guard, and I would throw Lillard in that group with him.
So, here’s my top five:
- Stephen Curry
- Russell Westbrook
- Chris Paul
- John Wall
- Damian Lillard
I have to agree with Stephen A. Smith in the video below, however, on the point that Wall shouldn’t be ranking himself. I love his confidence, but Wall should allow us to do the ranking for him.