• Liam Griffin

Has John Wall Joined the NBA Elite?

Earlier this week, the Washington Wizards clinched a playoff spot; and last night, with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, they clinched a division title. There is zero doubt in anyone’s mind that the Wizards are in this position because of the stellar play and leadership of John Wall. This season, everything has come together perfectly. John Wall has reached a point in his development where he’s an effective leader on and off the court; he’s setting career highs in a variety of categories on the court, and the Wizards look better than they have in a very long time.

The Wizards are a young team, and without a veteran like John Wall, the team would easily fall into disarray. In a refreshing change of taste, this season had very little off-court drama. This lack of drama has been a massive relief for Wizards fans. Over the course of last season and going into this year, there were rumors of tension between John Wall and Bradley Beal, and it looked like one of them would end up leaving sooner rather than later. Then the season started, and the tension was gone. There was absolutely no trace of any disagreement between the backcourt duo. In fact, their chemistry was better than ever. John Wall has been setting an example for the whole team. He earned another All-Star appearance, his fourth straight. He has also been able to stay healthy for the entire season, and has been a vocal leader for his teammates on the court. John Wall is a textbook leader for the Washington Wizards. He goes to work every day, and performs at the highest standard. Off the court, he keeps a low profile, and is never a distraction. John Wall has come into his own as the leader of his team, and he still has room to grow, as he’s only twenty-six years old.

On the court, Wall is having a career year. He’s setting career high in numbers in points per game (23.2), field goal percentage (45%), steals per game (2.0) and assists per game (10.8). Furthermore, his numbers are nearing the top of the league as he’s second in the league in steals and second in the league in assists. This is also Wall’s third straight season averaging double digit assists, which is the longest such streak in the NBA. He’s also second among point guards in blocked shots, and seventh overall in double-doubles with 48. To put all of that into words, John Wall is having a spectacular season on both sides of the ball. He’s not only setting personal bests, but is also becoming one of the best players in the NBA. The defensive numbers are of particular importance when one considers just how bad the Wizards defense has been. The Wizards have given up 107 points per game, which is twenty second in the league. Without the outstanding defensive play of John Wall, that number would surely be higher.

Last week, John Wall also put himself into hall of fame company. John Wall is just the fourth player all-time to achieve 9,000 career points and 4,500 career assists before the age of 27. The other three are Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, and Chris Paul.

Above all personal stats, one number will always reign supreme: wins. John Wall’s career year would be irrelevant if it didn’t translate to success for the team. Fortunately, Wall’s spectacular play has been a key factor in one of the Wizards’ best seasons in a long time. Last night, the Wizards clinched a division title. With a playoff spot already locked up, a division title might not seem particularly important; but for the Wizards, it’s a historic event. This is their first division title in 38 years. That was the longest active drought by any team in the four major North American leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). Before last night, the Cleveland Browns were closer to their last division title than the Washington Wizards.

Earlier this week, the Wizards beat the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers on their home court. That win was monumental going into the postseason, as Wall and the Wizards proved that they’re able to beat the best competition in the NBA, even when they’re away from home. The Wizards currently hold the third spot in the Eastern Conference and are just two games back of the Boston Celtics for the first spot.

Whether you call him the Wall Star or Optimus Dime, John Wall is a top tier player in the NBA, and he’s proven his ability to lead the Wizards to success. Going into the playoffs, it’ll be interesting to see whether Wall will be able to lead the Wizards to the promised land: a NBA Championship.

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