Washington Wizards: the NBA has forgotten about John Wall

Washington Wizards John Wall (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards John Wall (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

The entire NBA has forgotten that Washington Wizards point guard John Wall is on the mend, and bracing for a return to top-tier play. 

It may not be until 2020, or even 2021, but John Wall is coming back.

And the NBA has seemingly forgot who he is as a talent, and what he means to the league.

Well, here’s a reminder. Wall is more than just an inevitable salary dump centerpiece. When healthy, he is a top-10 point guard in the NBA. But looking around the league in mid-September, eight months after his injury, you wouldn’t think he was anything but retired.

NBA’s Top-100

Peak-NBA Twitter chaos is achieved when Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and any other media outlets release their top-100 NBA player list every season. They’re quite controversial, untimely, and often feature players who are on the decline, or in this case: injured.

But when both SI and ESPN released their lists this year, Wall was excluded from both as a top-100 talent. Sure, he’s suffered one of the toughest injuries to return from, and there’s a strong chance he doesn’t touch the court next season. But nowhere in the top 100?

One can’t help but notice that both lists feature players whose futures are in just as much question, mostly due to injury. The likes of Kristaps Porzingis (No. 34, ESPN), and Klay Thompson  (No. 49, ESPN) are both huge question marks going into the 2020-2021 season.

Porzingis suffered a torn ACL in 2018, and has yet to play in an NBA game, while Thompson suffered the same injury in the most recent NBA Finals.

So why, then, is Wall nowhere to be found? The only excuse is that teams and media alike have simply forgotten the guard is on the mend, and not beginning his life after basketball.

Because when healthy, Wall is undoubtedly a top-100 player in the NBA.

In fact, if you go back to ESPN’s last five of these lists, he’s been no lower than No. 32 (2018). On Sports Illustrated? No lower than No. 31 in that span.


Trade Talk/Wizards Direction

If the NBA hasn’t forgotten Wall is still around, it’s certainly forgotten how talented of a point guard he is. Very few headlines involving the Wizards summer have been without a trade proposal involving either of the all-stars in Washington’s backcourt.

Part of which is in credit to Bradley Beal, who has yet to accept the Wizards reported extension offer for three years and $110 million. However, Wall has been mostly discussed as a throw-in or salary dump in any potential trade.

The Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Chicago Bulls have all been rumored as potential landing spots for the guard (or guards). But in every instance or potential scenario, Wall’s role is more of a salary filler as opposed to talent acquisition.

Sure, his contract isn’t appealing given his current status. Wall will make $122 million over the next three seasons (and it’s entirely guaranteed) with a $46.8 million player option in 2022-2023. But most have forgotten that he was deemed worth the ticket price in the first place.

Even last season, in his lone 32 games played, Wall was posting top-assist numbers and still scoring at a high level. He recorded 20.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

Per Basketball Reference, Wall was just one of three players (minimum 30 games played) to post 20+ points and 8+ assists last season. The other two were LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.

If Wall can return at even 75 percent of what he left, the Wizards will once again contend in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. And for the record, the 29-year old told NBC Sports that his rehab is good, if not better than planned:

"“I’m great, man. Just rehabbing, working out and lifting weights. I’m shooting some jumpshots, doing some ball-handling and stuff like that,” he said."

Wall’s last healthy season was 2016-2017, when he posted 831 assists on the year. Basketball Reference has just six players having accomplished that since Wall was drafted in 2010. And when you throw in that he scored 1800+ points in the same year, that number shrinks to three.

The trio of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Wall all recorded 1800+ and 800+ assists in 2016-2017 season. Since? No one’s accomplished such a feat. Maybe he’ll return to exceed his personal best in a monster revenge campaign.

In recent years, players have returned from Achilles’ tears and ruptures in relatively average (if not above average) condition. This injury just isn’t what it used to be. A recent study by SB Nation suggests that an Achilles injury is most harmful to players over the age of 30. Wall coincidentally enough, just celebrated his 29th birthday.

Bradley Beal gets highest ranking on ESPN's Top-100 of his career. dark. Next

John Wall is a rare breed of athlete. He’s a former number one overall pick, and should still be considered current top-10 point guard in the NBA.

Somehow, that’s gotten lost in his transition from injury to rehab. It’ll make for a bitter surprise to the league when he does return to the court. 2020, 2021, whenever.