Mar 16, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) celebrates after a basket against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at the Verizon Center. The Wizards defeated the Suns 127 - 105. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA Today Sports

Is John Wall A ‘Max’ Player? Wiz of Awes Roundtable


It’s hard to believe that John Wall is already at that point in his young career. Fans and writers, myself included, are already beginning to ask that dreaded question;”Is John Wall worthy of a max contract?” Well, according to CSN Insider J Michael, the Washington Wizards will indeed give their third year star that large investment.

Washington Wizards fans tend to agree on most things regarding the struggling franchise, but this is one topic which is filled with various opinions. Seeking answers to the dreaded question, I went to fellow Wiz of Awes contributors, James and Nithin, for their take on the whole situation. So, is John Wall a ‘max’ player?

Nithin Kuchibhotla: Although it was just reported that the Wizards will in fact offer John Wall a maximum contract extension this summer, that news was a forgone conclusion years before.  John Wall received that deal the day the Wizards made him the #1 overall pick back in June of 2010.  And the day the team proudly hosted ‘John Wall Day’ and anointed him as the savior of bruised, beaten, and demoralized franchise.  So it comes as no surprise that sources are now leaking this information as probable truth – this was a mortal lock, and in reality there might be no other options.

Can I definitively say that I am happy with the deal? No.  For one, Wall has not made the type of improvements we’ve expected to see from him as we wrap up Year 3 in the era.  Gone are the knuckleheads who may have clouded his earlier development.  And the lockout that took away a crucial summer of training with coaches.  All that is left is a player who may or may not have the work ethic to reach his full potential.  That being said, can I say that this deal is a total catastrophe that will completely hamstring the Wizards’ chances of being a competitive team in the East?  Absolutely not.

Look – we know all the advanced stats scream out that Wall might be just an above average player, and nowhere near worthy of a max contract (considered to indicate a true franchise player).  And we’ve seen time and again teams extend huge contracts to these same types of players only to scramble back to the trade machine looking to wheel and deal like they’re in a late night game of NBA 2K13.  But making the assumptions that he’ll only receive the 4 year max (with the 5 year deal being held for a future Bradley Beal extension) for the mini-max amount (given his lack of All-NBA/All-Star/MVP selections), the deal will work out roughly to 4 years/$60 million.  Although I will be the first to agree that would make him overpaid, it’s truly not a huge difference from paying him $12 million a year and having a little money to work with (we’ll have space under the cap regardless with the $22 million coming off the books between Okafor and Ariza in 2014).  To put things into perspective, Nene makes $13 million a year and is on the hook for 3 more seasons.  He’s putting up the heroic numbers of 12 points/7 rebounds a night and shooting below 50% from the field.  So a player of Wall’s caliber (especially if what we’re seeing from him lately is the turning point) can make a little more without fans passing out from shock.

So after covering the finances, it must be determined whether Wall’s skill set should instigate consideration for this payday.  We know what his deficiencies are: knocking down jump shots, taking care of the basketball, and exhibiting any type of effort on defense.  I’d say that although those remain problems across the board, he’s improved in each area (save for turnovers) and has proven in the last few weeks that he HAS the talent to be one of the game’s elite point guards.  We also know what his strengths are, namely getting to the basket/foul line, putting great pressure on the defense with his speed, and finding open players in spots that they are comfortable with.  The Wizards with Wall on the court are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA.  They’ve turned a 5-28 mark around with an 18-15 run down the stretch.  They’ve become one of the top 10 defensive teams in the game over that time period as well.  Every DC fan begs for him to put in 100% on every possession, and truly work at his craft.  I hope the confidence the franchise puts in him with this deal will spur him to do so this summer.  But it can’t be denied that he does have a positive effect on the rest of the team, even if its a mental edge to know that the floor general is back and ready to compete.

With another top 10 pick in the draft, and some crafty moves from the front office (I’m not holding my breath), this could be a top-5 team in the East next season.  And although that might not be the ceiling most people would hope for, realistic expectations have to be considered as well.  After years of 60 loss seasons, if a max deal for John Wall turns the Wizards into a perennial playoff contender, then sign me up.  No, it’s not the money he deserves.  But that decision was already made a long time ago.

James Straton:

It should be no surprise how I feel about a John Wall maximum contract: petrified. I would be legitimately heartbroken if the Wizards tied down 25% of their cap in a player who hasn’t made a major (or minor, really) impact in the NBA. I would submit to you, the reader, that John Wall is outplayed by opposing point guards on 5 of 10 nights. Is that the kind of guy you want to give a max deal to? BUT POTENTIAL!!

What is potential is nothing more than another excuse for John? He can’t shoot, but that’s because the Wizards’ staff haven’t reconstructed his jumper. He can’t dribble, but that’s because he’s forced to do everything himself. He can’t score, but that’s because he’s a facilitator. He’s a great facilitator, but he is ranked 43rd in assist-to-turnover ratio amongst guards (while AJ Price is third).

(Source: Basketball-Reference.com. Linked not sorted by Ast/TO.)

He has the same Offensive Rating as AJ Price, but that’s because… well there’s no explanation for that. There are so many things that point to Wall not being a maximum salary player and the Wizards are going to bid against… themselves.

 If John Wall does in fact get a maximum contract, he will make more money than the following point guards:

  • Tony Parker
  • Ty Lawson
  • Jrue Holiday
  • Steph Curry
  • Rajon Rondo

In what world does this make sense?

I don’t think Wall is an awful player. It may come off that way because the rest of Wizards Twitter reveres him as a point god. He is a decent point guard with some potential to be better because of his athleticism. In three years he has not improved in a single facet of the game and there is no guarantee that he will ever develop the necessary skills to be a top tier point guard. I’m not betting on that, but it looks like the Wizards are.

Ben Mehic: I’ll get straight to the point. Is John Wall worthy of a ‘max’ contract? No, not at this point in his career.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Wall develop into a good young point guard with tons of flaws. Coming into this season, John Wall was supposed to blossom into an NBA All-Star, eventually leading the Wizards to the post season. Due to an unexpected injury which decimated the majority of John Wall’s third season in the NBA, the Wizards still remain one of many bottom feeding teams in the league. Wall’s stress injury stunted his growth, but we’ve seen Wall develop in a positive direction over the past several weeks. Most recently, John Wall received “Player of the Week” honors, making him the first Wizard to receive that recognition since 2008. During that stretch, John Wall scored over 20 points per game to go along side more than 10 assists. Wall shot over 60% from the field, while knocking down over 80% of his shots from three. His turnovers have decreased, but most importantly, Wall has shown his ability to dominate the game by controlling pace. But does such a small sample earn John Wall a ‘max’ contract? Absolutely not. Wall still has some major holes in his game that he needs to continue improving upon.

In reality, there are only a handful of players in the NBA which are truly worth that big of an investment. Players like Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez all received a contract they didn’t necessarily deserve. Teams that want to win and keep their best players will eventually have to overpay. Wizards owner, Ted Leonsis, seems like the last person that would want to invest such a large sum of money into a single player. Washington WILL give Wall a ‘max’ contract, because that situation seems inevitable. Wall was given the keys to the city on day one and the front office has made it clear that they would do everything in their power to keep Wall in D.C. Wall has flown a bit under the radar, but he will without a doubt draw interest from other rebuilding teams if he enters free agency. Teams such as the Phoenix Suns are starving for players ‘star’ potential, and will therefore look to attract players like Wall during the free agency period. If the Wizards don’t pay Wall, what will they get in return? Letting Wall walk would or trading him in exchange for mediocre players would cause a cataclysmic upheaval amongst Wizards fans. Like Nithin pointed out, Washington doesn’t have a choice but to pay John Wall an undeserving amount of money.

Let’s just hope John Wall continues to improve and play at the level he’s been playing lately, which has earned him national recognition over the past several weeks.

 

 

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