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The Debate Room: John Wall, 2016 All-Star?

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These are the facts regarding All-Star Rosters:

  • NBA All-Star rosters are composed of 12 players.
  • There are two starting back court, and three starting front court spots.
  • The starters are determined exclusively by fan voting.
  • There are 7 reserve spots. Two of these spots are reserved for guards, three are reserved for front court players. The remaining two spots are “Wild-cards” aka anyone left deemed All-Star caliber, irrelevant of position.
  • The reserves are determined by voting among coaches.
  • This years NBA All-Star game is being held in Toronto, Canada.

I’m here to argue that this 2015-2016 NBA season, John Wall should NOT be an All-Star. Chill….I’m also here to argue why he should be. Let the debate begin!

OPENING STATEMENTS:

Based on several years of evidence, there is no doubt that John Wall is an All-Star caliber player, and one of the best point guards in the entire NBA, much less the Eastern Conference. Wall has established himself as an elite passer, a unique play-maker, and demonstrated the propensity to raise the level of play of all those around him. Wall has also separated himself on the defensive end, routinely being considered one of the premier, if not THE premier defensive point guard in the NBA today.

However, there are also several years of evidence that coaches reward winning when it comes to filling out the All-Star roster. Lesser performing players from winning teams are often given a place in the All-Star game over higher performing players from fledgling teams. Last season, the Atlanta Hawks had FOUR All-Stars, despite none of them individually producing standard “All-Star” numbers. Whether this is correct or not is irrelevant, as it has simply become an accepted standard of All-Stardom. Winning matters.

PARTIES INVOLVED:

As mentioned above, there are four spots reserved for back court players on the All-Star roster, and a maximum of six possible back court players, if both Wild-Card slots were given to back court players. Most likely, Wall will need to crack the top-5 as a qualified candidate to make the All-Star team. Here are your top competing candidates:

  • John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
  • Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
  • Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors
  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Chicago Bulls
  • Isaiah Thomas, PG, Boston Celtics
  • DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors
  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers

THE DEBATE:

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Do you watch basketball?? John Wall is without a doubt, the heart and soul of the Washington Wizards, and has been the only constant this season, a magical captain single-handedly keeping a ship taking on water from sinking completely.

Despite injuries, and his teammates lack of performance, Wall continues to shine, dishing 9.6 assists per game. That’s good enough for second in the NBA. He’s also scoring 19.6 points per game to lead the team. Wall leads the team in scoring, assists, steals, and is second on the team in blocks. The NBA season is two months old, and John Wall was just named the best player in the Eastern Conference for ONE ENTIRE MONTH. How can a guy who’s been the best player in the East for half the season not be an All-Star?

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Actually, I do watch basketball, a lot of basketball. And not just Wizards basketball. I will concede that Wall was great in December, but his superior performance in December was not so great that it negates his inferior performance for the season overall. The guys Wall is competing with may not have matched Wall’s stats in December, but they have been playing at a consistently higher level on a night to night basis. And their teams performance reflects that.

Standings:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 27-9, 1st in the East
  • Toronto Raptors: 24-15, 2nd in the East
  • Chicago Bulls: 22-14, 3rd in the East
  • Miami Heat: 22-17, 6th in the East
  • Boston Celtics: 20-19, 9th in the East
  • Washington Wizards: 18-19, 11th in the East

So basically, you’re saying that Isaiah Thomas and DeMar DeRozan are better than John Wall because they play on better teams, despite years of proof otherwise? That’s just ignorant. You’re an idiot.

Actually, I wasn’t done. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m about to show you that Isaiah Thomas and DeMar DeRozan (and Wade, Lowry, and Butler) are playing better basketball than John Wall THIS SEASON, and as a result, they are contributing to their teams being better than the Washington Wizards. Look at the numbers:

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The stats don’t provide Wall a keystone for any strong All-Star argument. Of all those guys, Wall posts the lowest Player Efficiency Rating (PER), a stat gaining more and more credibility league wide.

The standard metrics don’t support Wall either. He is scoring less points per game than everyone except Wade (who is playing significantly fewer minutes). And he is shooting a lower percentage from the field than everyone except Lowry and Isaiah Thomas, who are just 1% point behind. Lowry and Thomas compensate for this by getting to the line 5.4 and 6.3 times per game respectively, compared to Wall’s 4.4.

Wade and Lowry having a better season than Wall shouldn’t be a surprise. They’ve established their All-Star credentials over many years. But Isaiah Thomas even being in this conversation probably infuriates you. But I’ve got more bad news for you. Butler and DeRozan possibly have even stronger cases than Thomas.

Both Butler and DeRozan are posting career highs in scoring and assists. Neither is shooting well from the three point line, but they are compensating for it with aggressive attacks to the rim. Butler is averaging a career high 7.8 free throws per game, while DeRozan is posting an impressive 8.3 free throws per game, also a career high.

And none of these guys are Damian Lillard or James Harden on defense. Lowry and Butler are considered among the best at guarding their positions, and DeRozan and Wade are not too shabby themselves. And while Thomas’s Celtics are within striking distance, hovering around .500, Butler’s Bulls and DeRozan’s Raptors sit near the top of the East. Winning matters!

Umm, you know what else matters?? Passing matters!! He’s a point guard for God’s sake! And when it comes to John Wall, he’s a POINT GAWD!

I noticed how you conveniently ignored that Wall’s 9.6 assists per game pummels everyone of those guys you named. You like advanced stats? How bout these for advanced stats:

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In case you can’t interpret these numbers, they say that Wall is NASTY! Not only does Wall rack up 9.6 assists but his assists are more valuable than just about everyone else. And if you watch basketball, you know why. Because Wall is as good as it gets at setting up his teammates for open threes. You know, that three point shot that the NBA loves these days.

OH! And if you do in fact watch basketball as much as you claim, the 19.1 potential assist number shouldn’t surprise you. NINETEEN! That’s how many assists Wall’s teammates are leaving on the table. No one else in the East comes even close to that number. In other words, Wall is doing everything he possibly can as a play maker and teammate. His teammates just aren’t that good. It’s one thing to be a guy who puts up gaudy stats on a bad team because he just shoots all the time and dribbles all the time. It’s quite another thing to be a guy that makes the right play and plays good basketball over and over and over again, only to watch great looks continue to clang off the rim. If JR Smith and Kevin Love suddenly couldn’t shoot anymore, would that make LeBron less of an All-Star? I didn’t think so.

You’re right, I did conveniently ignore Wall’s 9.6 assists per game, but that was for your convenience, not mine. Cuz you can’t talk about assists without talking about turnovers too.

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You just said Wall makes the right play over and over again. Does that include throwing the ball away? Because he’s doing that over and over again also. While Thomas, Butler and DeRozan are setting career highs in points and assists, the only career high Wall is setting this season is in turnovers. He’s committing 4.4 per game, far more than everyone he’s competing with here, and look at that turnover percentage. Wall is basically turning the ball over once every 5-6 plays. That’s not acceptable for any point guard, much less a guy making his case on being a “true point guard” and stellar play maker and decision maker. Sorry.

Yea but…a lot of those turnovers and inconsistency are because of the Wizards injuries and line-up inconsistency. The missed shots off his passes are bad enough, but being forced to play with new guys, or guys in new roles is tough too. And with Frail Deal Beal being out all the time, Wall’s literally the only guy who can make a play on a regular basis for the Wizards. Butler’s got Rose and Gasol. Lowry and DeRozan have each other. Wade’s got Bosh and Dragic. Even Isaiah Thomas has Evan Turner and Marcus Smart. Wall’s had Otto Porter, Ramon Sessions, and Kelly Oubre Jr. C’mon man!

I’ll concede you that point. But John Wall’s not the first guy and certainly not the last who has had to deal with those conditions, and suffered the All-Star price in the process. Look at DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie has been All-Star Caliber and one of the best big men in the NBA for years, but finally made his FIRST All-Star team last year, as a REPLACEMENT for Kobe Bryant! Even when his performance was so exceptional that his team’s performance HAD to be ignored, he still needed a little extra luck to get in the game. And Wall definitely hasn’t played to the level this season that Boogie Cousins had played to at this point last season.

Shoot man…so let’s see. I can agree with you that Wade, Lowry, and Jimmy Butler definitely have to be in. And if the Celtics stay above .500, you’re right, the coaches will definitely award them an All-Star, and Thomas is really the only option (since Brad Stevens can’t get a roster spot). And it’ll be really hard to deny DeRozan, especially if Toronto stays in the Top 3, and with the game being in Toronto. But that could still leave one of the Wild-Card spots if they decide to fill both with guards…the East is kinda guard heavy after all…

Hold-up…we haven’t even talked about Kyrie Irving!

Yeaaa…..Kyrie is the Elephant in this Debate Room. The starters are determined exclusively by fan voting, and Kyrie is in second right now behind Wade, even though he’s only played 10 games. The word on the internet is that Justin Bieber is trying to start a push for his fellow Canadian Kyle Lowry to get the start.

So if that succeeds, and Kyrie doesn’t get the start, then that leaves a spot for Wall?

Uhhh, actually….that’s not so simple either. By February, Kyrie may have made a pretty strong case for himself, even with the missed games. He destroyed the Wizards in their head to head match-up, and his overall numbers are rising. He’s on a minutes restriction right now, but he’s averaging 22.2 points and 5.5 assists per 36 minutes, and that’s while he’s shooting only 26% from three. We know based on history that that percentage will go up, and this recent game winning dagger is a sure sign on that:

A video posted by HoopFilms (@therealhoopfilms) on

And speaking of game winning…the Cavs are 9-2 since Kyrie came back, with their only losses being to the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. Oh, and dating back to January 13th 2015, the Cavs are now 42-6 when Kyrie, LeBron, and Kevin Love are all in the lineup.

So if the Cavs keep winning, and have left the rest of the East way behind by the All-Star break, a la the Hawks last season, you can be sure they will be rewarded with multiple All-Stars, missed games or not. If Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague make All-Star teams for winning, do you have any doubt Kyrie Irving will?

Damn man…I don’t know what else to say. Like I know in my heart that John Wall is an All-Star, but you’re right, those other guys are having All-Star seasons too, and even if they aren’t better than Wall at basketball, their teams definitely are.

Exactly.

So basically, if Wall’s gonna be an All-Star, the Wizards better start winning, like NOW.

Basically. Or the fans better start voting and tweeting “John Wall #NBAVote”, like crazy.

Bruh…the fans don’t even make noise at the games.

You’re right, they better just start winning.

Seriously though?….Isaiah Thomas….SMH….

SMH

FINAL VERDICT:

At this time, the court determines that judgement is reserved. We will consider these proceedings and review the evidence and see a final ruling in the coming weeks. Court Dismissed.

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