Can the student ever truly become the master? Jedi mind tricks aside, don’t be confusing anything: during his recruitment of Kentucky’s famed 2009 freshmen class, John Calipari straight up told Eric Bledsoe he’d never play point guard with John Wall, and straight up told him he’d never be the star, instead offering a secondary role that could limit his exposure. A few years later, Bledsoe ended up in Los Angeles, backing up Chris Paul, and had to be content with once-a-week SportsCenter highlights in blowout Clippers win.
One of his close friends, the aforementioned Wall, went No. 1 in the NBA Draft, then grabbed the keys to a franchise and now looks like a surefire All-Star this season.
Outside influences always saw Bledsoe as the little brother. But this year, his first as a legitimate starter and franchise cornerstone, Bledsoe is proving he’s more than that. While surgery to remove a piece of torn meniscus dulled the excitement over Phoenix’s newest star, his numbers still speak for themselves.
With an important second half of the season on his horizon, and with Wall gearing up for what will likely be a first All-Star Game, we’re asking the question. Who’s better right now: John Wall or Eric Bledsoe? We argue. You decide.
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Forget about their record, and forget about their last couple of seasons. If there’s one guy that can turn around the Washington Wizards, better believe it’s that man who they extended for five years last summer, the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, John Wall.
Although the Wizards haven’t seen the playoffs since the 2008 season, it couldn’t have come at a better time to lose in the ’09-10 season for a shot at acquiring the first overall pick in 2010. They knew that the days of Gilbert Arenas in his prime were long over. The locker room issues from the Arenas era might actually benefit the Wizards for long-term success. It gave them an excuse to trade away the troubled Agent Zero and develop their young prized possession, who’s now ready to explode.
In his first three seasons with the Wizards, Wall averaged 17 points per game along with 7.9 assists. After signing a five-year $80 million extension this summer, Wall is playing the best basketball of his career, averaging 20.0 ppg and 8.5 apg, with nearly two steals per game this season. The statistics don’t lie; his consistency as a point guard will take him far as he’s proving his game has improved each year. With that said, there’s plenty of reasons why he’s always overshadowed his college backcourt mate at Kentucky, Eric Bledsoe.
When you compare John Wall to Eric Bledsoe, everyone knows that Wall is a proven point guard, who arguably has a good chance at making his first All-Star team this season. With the injury of Derrick Rose, Wall’s name truly belongs in the mix of the top three point guards in the Eastern Conference. Despite Bledsoe having a breakout season and earning a starting point guard job, he still isn’t a top five point guard in the West. Through 24 games that Bledsoe has played this season, Wall statistically is still having a better season, averaging more points, assists and steals per game than Bledsoe.
Standing three inches taller, Wall has a better fit body for an NBA player than Bledsoe, being more lengthy and heavier for a point guard. Wall can also defend the bigger guards that Bledsoe can’t at this level. Before the NBA, he was still better statistically than Bledsoe in college. It didn’t surprise me that coach John Calipari believed in building a team around the nation’s No. 1 high school prospect in the class of 2009. He seemed to always run the offense through Wall as the top option as he led the Kentucky Wildcats in scoring during his only season as a freshman.
You don’t have to ask Gilbert Arenas again, but if you want to speed up and really see John Wall’s full potential, maybe he needs to play in a high-paced offense, or needs to be surrounded by proven NBA veterans to make his game better. So far, playing with a young backcourt mate like Bradley Beal doesn’t seem to be bringing out the best of John Wall as a winner. Just look at how Rajon Rondo is struggling to win and be elite again without the veteran leadership he’s been accustomed to. Rondo makes it easy to see how Wall would explode if he were surrounded by proven veterans to show him the winning ways to becoming an elite point guard in the NBA.