Washington Wizards 2007 vs. 2015: John Wall vs. Gilbert Arenas


We’ve all heard of the conversations comparing the old Gilbert Arenas led Washington Wizards teams to the most recent John Wall led squads.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be writing about the 2006-2007 Wizards team (41-41 record) and how they match up against the 2014-2015 Wizards team (46-36 record).

Part one: Comparing Beal and Stevenson

Part two: Comparing Nene and Jamison

Part three: Comparing Butler and Porter

Part four: Comparing Haywood and Gortat

Next up, the point guards…

Gilbert Arenas, 2007 season averages: 28.4 PTS, 4.6 TRB, 6.0 AST, .42 FG%, .35 3P%, 39.8 minutes

John Wall, 2015 season averages: 17.6 PTS, 4.6 TRB, 10.0 AST, .45 FG%, .30 3P%, 35.9 minutes

The matchup you’ve all been waiting for doubles as the most difficult of calls for me.

Gilbert Arenas ranks in my top 5 favorite players of all time (along with MJ, J-Kidd, T-Mac, and Ray Allen) while John Wall is my favorite player in the current league landscape and has single-handedly carried the Washington Wizards back to relevancy.

These two share certain similarities, but their game styles and personalities couldn’t be more different.

In their respective seasons, both were elected to the All-Star Game and both were the clear cut best players on their teams. Each had a steady hand in guiding the Wizards to the postseason and both were often thought to be in a lower tier of ‘star’ in the NBA (coincidentally using those slights frequently as motivation).

Arenas was the volume shooting guard who put up monster offensive numbers but treated defense as optional.  He had a bravado few could match on the court and was the ultimate prankster in the locker room.

Wall is a different kind of leader, choosing to do his damage via insane passing vision and a defensive tenacity that is the perfect complement to his blinding athleticism.

He is definitely more reserved than Arenas is, though has had the benefit of other veterans in the locker room to carry the vocal burden.

Despite his DH-mentality, Gil had such a large effect offensively that it tips the scale in his favor.

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He put up 29 points, while logging 40 minutes and hoisting 8 3’s per game.

He still filled in the assist column with an average of 6 dimes and his lack of traditional efficiency was made up by a fantastic ability to get to the line (FT rate of .464).

Although we won’t discuss what happened in a certain April matchup vs. the Charlotte Bobcats (I hate you, Gerald Wallace), Arenas finished up with a 24.0 PER, and a 57 TS% while churning out a Usage Rate of 31.4%.

His biggest honor from that season was being named 2nd team All-NBA and cementing his status at the time as one of the premier players in the league.

Wall certainly had a breakthrough season in 2014-15, though his stats won’t generally reflect much of an uptick from the previous two seasons. He learned how to pace himself, and how to commit defensively. He found open shooters on a team that had very little talent on the perimeter outside of Bradley Beal.

He still struggled to stay consistent offensively from game to game and continued to settle for jump shots or kick outs when drives to the paint were available. But he spearheaded the 5th ranked defense in the NBA and ultimately when the shackles came off the archaic offense in the playoffs, he ran it to perfection.

Statistically the numbers are more well-rounded than Arenas’, despite logging 4 fewer minutes.  He averaged 18-10-4-2, and shot a career best 45% from the field.

His total 3 pointers made and percentage dropped off from career highs the year before but he improved from mid-range and continued to excel near the basket. Wall ranked top-5 amongst point guards in RPM and slowly cemented his status as an elite playmaker in a league full of them.

Ultimately when I consider this matchup, I can see it going either way. Compelling arguments can be made and won for both Arenas and Wall. Ultimately I’m going with the former for a couple reasons.

Yes, his defensive lapses were significant and harmful but his offensive prowess overcame that performance (his defense also looks worse with guys like Antawn Jamison behind him). His advanced numbers generally outpace Wall’s, albeit numbers that traditionally favor offensive players.

Finally, that 2nd-team All-NBA nod shows his place amongst the hierarchy of NBA royalty in a slightly weaker but still impressive era of talent.

Wall is no slouch, and by the time even next season is complete, we may be citing that as the best season either has ever had in their careers.  But for now, it’s still Hibachi’s mountain.  At least it was in 2007.  I seriously hate you, Gerald Wallace.

Next: The Definitive Ranking Of Wizards Jerseys

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