Amongst basketball enthusiasts (on Twitter, at least), John Wall has been one of the more debated players of the past couple weeks. How high is his ceiling? Is he a max player? Is he better than Kyrie Irving like our own on Darius Sinclair suggests? Is it true he really dropped $20,000 in 15 minutes at Stadium during St. Patrick’s Day weekend? The last one is completely false, but for the month of March the former Kentucky all-world point guard has been one of the better players in basketball. Just ask Memphis.
Monday night at the Verizon Center, Wall led an undermanned Wizards squad against the Grizzlies. No worries, no problems. J-Wall only had his finest game as a pro. Everything went Wall’s way – coming off an ejection in Golden State – who filled stat lines with 47 points, seven rebounds and eight assists on 13-22 shooting and a whooping 19-24 from the charity stripe. Not bad for a guy who missed a good chunk of the season with injury and had David Falk toss him under the bus a few months back questioning his leadership prowess and talent.
And now we find ourselves in the basketball matrix.
1. If Wall never goes down with an injury last fall, there’s a good chance Washington is playing for playoff positioning right now instead of lining up vacation options.
2. Do the Wizards tank some of these remaining games on purpose in order to preserve draft positioning? Do they take Otto Porter from Georgetown if he’s available as I’ve heard for weeks buzzing around D.C. giving them a young trio of Wall-Beal-Porter?
3. Do the Wizards toss Wall max money regardless if he is a true “max player?” It’s either pay the man or let him go for nothing next summer and be right back at square one. Plus, “max player” in the 2013 NBA is like what “thick” is in describing women these days. Some do sport curves in all the desirable places. Some, on the other hand, are just plain fat. Jrue Holiday’s four years, $41M is a figure I could envision the Wiz eventually presenting Wall. You know, pending Washington doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot again.
4. Get well soon, Marc Gasol. Memphis won’t go far without you.
— Despite a lead larger than 20 points, Indiana hung on at home to beat the Hawks 100-94. Atlanta’s 31-point fourth quarter wasn’t enough to help overcome the hole they dug themselves in led by Roy Hibbert’s 17 points and 13 rebounds.
— Another impressive streak met its untimely demise Monday night, as the Denver Nuggets fell to the New Orleans Hornets by a hefty margin, 110-86. Denver couldn’t muster the diverse scoring that has come to define them (Danilo Gallinari dropped 24, but had little help). Meanwhile, N’awlins got buckets from practically everyone on the roster; every starter netted double-digits, and Ryan Anderson dropped 23 off the bench. The Pelicans can give this “streak killer” name some serious weight when Miami visits The Big Easy on Friday.
— If Utah is to make the playoffs, they need more nights like Monday. The Jazz, as a team, shot 48.8% FG, 50% 3PT and 85.7% front he line as they overwhelmed a Philly squad who have been looking for offensive relief all season long. Now only a game back of the eighth spot, they’ll need more outings like this because…
— …the Lakers are apparently going to make this race for the playoffs an interesting one, evident by their 109-103 loss in Golden State who were led by Steph Curry’s near triple double of 25-7-10. Just when it appeared as if LA had turned the corner from a chemistry standpoint, they’ve lost three consecutive games with the same demons rearing their heads.* Dwight Howard disappears from lack of involvement (he and Pau combined for 16 attempts) and an offensive game that’s average at best. Kobe turns to gunner-mode at times; an awesome concept when it works, team suicide when it crashes and burns. His defensive assignments have been the elephant in the room all year, too. And the fact of the matter is, the Nash-Kobe-Pau-D12 experiment just isn’t working. To be fair, injuries haven’t helped, but they’re a whooping 6-13 when all four are in uniform.**
* – Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but I’ve always thought – especially at this point in his career with this squad – Kobe should approach the game how he did with Olympic play. Focus on causing havoc on the defensive end, getting points within the flow of the game on offense and let Nash put people where they need to be. But that won’t happen, and Gasol will be scapegoat. So yeah. Forget I ever mentioned it.
** – And, uhh, don’t look now, but Dallas is one game back in loss column with a very important matchup at Staples looming April 2 (which just also happens to be the night Shaq has his jersey retired).