John Wall was a near unanimous selection for the NBA’s all-rookie first team, receiving 28 out of a possible 29 first-team votes from NBA coaches. Flip Saunders couldn’t vote for Wall since coaches weren’t allowed to vote for their own players, which leads to the question, who snubbed him?
Rookie of the year Blake Griffin (58 points) was the lone unanimous selection after averaging 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds and recording 63 double-doubles. After missing all of the 2009-10 season with a stress fracture in his left knee, Griffin, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, became the first unanimous rookie of the year selection since David Robinson in 1990. He joined Robinson and Larry Bird as the only players to win rookie of the year in a season different from the one in which they were drafted.
Wall (57), the top choice last June, ranked seventh in the league in assists (8.3) and steals (1.7) and finished second in scoring among rookies at 16.4 points per game. He won Eastern Conference player of the month four times, with New York Knicks guard Landry Fields, another first-ream selection with 56 points, winning the first two months. Wall’s former Kentucky teammate and Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (54) and San Antonio Spurs guard and Aberdeen native Gary Neal (44) filled out the first team.
I’m not sure which coach put Wall on the second team, but he did struggle against San Antonio, New Orleans and Portland this season. He averaged just 6 points on 27.8 percent shooting in two losses to the Spurs, 8 points on 30 percent shooting in two losses against the Hornets and 9.5 points on 24 percent shooting against the Trail Blazers. That’s not to say that either Gregg Popovich, Nate McMillan or Monty Williams didn’t give him the vote, just to point out that Wall probably didn’t leave much of an impression in those head-to-head match-ups.
Either way, when asked about finishing a distant second in rookie of the year voting to Griffin, Wall said on Tuesday that he would “use it as motivation. I feel if I hadn’t been hurt it would’ve been a closer battle, because, the way I started the season, I thought I was going to be good and I was learning and having some breakout games. When I got hurt, the more he really exploded and my name went down. So I can’t do nothing but respect him for what he did to win the award and use it motivate it you, come back and get another award. You know, in high school, I didn’t win a lot of big awards because I always worked harder and came out on top.”
Former Georgetown star and Detroit forward Greg Monroe (42) made the all-rookie second team, along with Minnesota’s Wesley Johnson (26), Los Angeles Clippers guard and Wall’s backcourt mate at Kentucky Eric Bledsoe (19), Utah’s Derrick Favors (18) and Indiana’s Paul George (12). Jordan Crawford didn’t make either team but finished with 12 points, tying him with No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner. Trevor Booker received one vote.