The modern NBA is developing into a paradise for promising young hotshots fresh from the hardwoods of college basketball. Likewise, it’s not just fresh players that are changing the face of the Association. The focus in the last decade has been turning to the point guard position.
Point guards started coming to prominence prior to the mid-2000s, but the modern game really took off when Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Tony Parker graced the court with exemplary exhibitions of excellence. And the growth didn’t stop there. Next was Derrick Rose from Memphis, Russell Westbrook from UCLA and Rajon Rondo from Kentucky who begun slicing through competition.
It expanded, bringing in the early all-around heroics of Kyrie Irving in 2011 and this year, Damian Lillard.
The league even made room for the likes of Ricky Rubio, Jeremy Lin and Brandon Jennings. Yet somehow, John Wall became the unwanted castaway in the group of popular kids around this pseudo-pro-basketball high school.
Fans and analysts alike only remember superlatives when it comes to the short careers of NBA athletes. Lin and Rubio became international superstars overnight. Lillard has been making game-winners since the beginning of his professional career. Jennings exploded for 55 points less than a month into his.
Looking at the second year for the aforementioned point men, successes have come a dime a dozen. Rose won the MVP in his second season with the Chicago Bulls. Parker and Rondo both won championships in their second campaign with their respective teams. But for Wall? The former 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick isn’t another Kwame Brown-like bust — he’s been held back by different circumstances.
In his first two seasons with the Washington Wizards, Wall averaged better numbers than Williams, Rondo and Parker (around 16 points and eight assists) respectively. Although the stats speak for themselves, statistics don’t display the full capabilities of a floor general.
Wall’s career has been riddled with setbacks that kept him from reaching his true potential. Unlike many other guards who received big money deals, Wall hasn’t really had the opportunity to shine as much as the front office would like to see. Aside from dealing with a team full of bad attitudes and low potential during his rookie stint (Nick Young, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee), Wall has been injury prone.
The following season was a lockout year. He couldn’t benefit from a real training camp and lost out on 16 games. Then just before the start of his third season, Wall sustained a stress injury to his left knee that shelved him away until Jan. 7, taking another 33 games of assessment and improvement off the table.
The former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging 16.6 points and 8.1 assists in what would be an assumed 184 games by the end of this season. Even with that much playing time, it would still be difficult as a front office to calculate whether or not Wall is deserving of a lucrative extension without seeing his full potential.