There is no question that John Wall is one of the ten or so most talented players in the game. However, the key here is to be able to separate talent from game. Is John Wall one of the best gamers in the league?
After last night’s performance, it’s tough to say. Could you definitely say that you’d rather start a team with John Wall than Isaiah Thomas right now? Sure, Wall is bigger, faster, stronger, yada, yada, yada. But he’s not a draft prospect who’s measurables even matter — at this point in Wall’s career, the only thing that matters is what happens in the game.
And in the biggest game of his NBA career, Wall regressed:
But in the biggest game of Thomas’ year, he found a way to improve:
Does this mean I’d definitively take Thomas over Wall right now? Not necessarily — in fact, I’d still probably take Wall. But what this does mean, is that for the time being, Wall is out of the discussion for being one of the NBA’s elite players. Again, there’s no questioning whether he’s one of the game’s most talented, but at what point has a player become all he can be? What if this season was the highest peak John Wall will ever reach.
I don’t want to hear about the Wizards lack of point guard death and John Wall running out of steam, I can guarantee that the Irving’s, the Westbrook’s, the Curry’s, hell, and even the Thomas’ of the world wouldn’t have gone scoreless in the fourth quarter of a Game 7. I can guarantee that the elite players in the game would go to the line more than TWICE in a Game 7 (Wall from 1/2 from the line for the ENTIRE GAME). Combine that with him shooting 35% from the field and 12% (1/8) from 3, and you have a player who flat out choked. How, as one of the quickest, most agile players in the league, do you only go to the line once, yet take eight 3’s? His jump shot was off, yet he refused to drive to the paint.
I understand that this is a prisoner of the moment-type scenario, and I’m aware that Wall is probably going to come back an even better player next year. But that doesn’t change the fact that, for the time being, he is not one of the game’s elite players.