OAKLAND, Calif. – John Wall and Stephen Curry are two of just three players in the NBA averaging at least 19 points and eight assists. Bradley Beal and Klay Thompson are two of just eight players averaging at least 16 points while shooting 41 percent from long distance.
The Wizards passed on taking both Curry in 2009, then took Wall No. 1 in 2010. They passed on Thompson in 2011 and took Beal No. 3 in 2012. In their second season together, Curry and Thompson led the Golden State Warriors into the playoffs for the first time after a six year drought. In their second season together, Wall and Beal are attempting to do the same for Washington.
The matchup between two of the league’s most talented backcourts will take precedence when the Wizards take on the Warriors on Tuesday at Oracle Arena.
“It’s exciting. Everybody say me and Brad can be one of the best back courts in the league, and you’ve got those guys that’s been to the playoffs and proved themselves last year,” Wall said. “What they’re doing now, especially Steph this year, being an all-star and getting starting position, I congratulate him, being from North Carolina. But it’ll be a great battle.”
Wall and Beal are both seeking something that their counterpart in Golden State possesses. Wall would give anything to have Curry’s jump-shooting range and accuracy but he might join him at the All-Star Game in New Orleans if the coaches select him. Beal, still limited by a minute restriction, would like to have the durability of Thompson, who has never missed a game in the NBA. But what Wall and Beal aren’t seeking is a nickname.
“They’re known for being the ‘Splash Brothers.’ We’re just known for playing the right way, playing basketball. We don’t have no name. We don’t want no nicknames,” Wall said.
“Nah, man. I just like my name being John,” he said.
When told that some fans on Twitter have started referring to Beal and Wall as “Splash and Dash,” Wall started chuckling. “ ‘Splash and Dash?’ That’s a funny one.”
Curry, Thompson and Beal were all named to USA Basketball’s 28-man pool for international competitions in 2014 and 2016. Wall now has a new source for “motivation” and is looking forward to going head-to-head with Curry.
“But I try not get into a one on one battle because those are things that can hurt your team. And just try to play the right way and be a leader,” Wall said.
When the teams met up on Jan. 5, Thompson was the only member of the back-court quartet to actually play well as he made six three-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points on 9 of-14 shooting in the Warriors’ 112-96 victory. Curry, Beal and Wall combined to score 37 points on 13 of 43 shooting. Wall is expecting Curry to come out ready to make up for one of his worst performances of the season.
“I think he’s going to come out aggressive,” Wall said. “A shooter like that, he’s going to miss some shots and he’s going to make some. The main thing for me to is try to make it as tough for him as much as possible.”
Wall helped limit Curry to 5-of-17 shooting, but Curry still led his team to a win with 10 assists. Wall had an almost identical stat line with 14 points and 10 assists in defeat. Chris Paul (26), Curry (19) and Wall (15) are the only players in the NBA with more than 10 point-assist double doubles this season.
Curry’s passing has helped him elevate his game to all-star status but his ability to score from anywhere on the floor makes him one of the league’s most difficult covers.
“It’s tough, because then he added handles to his game and he finished at the basket, with all type of floaters. But I’d rather him take a two than keep hitting all these threes. So you just play D like that,” Wall said. He added that Curry has “an unbelievable [green] light. He might pull from the W without anybody with him and five defenders. That’s how Coach Jackson let him play and that’s the trust he has in his players.”
Wall has yet to beat Curry in five matchups and was ejected for threatening Thompson the last time he played at Golden State. Beal has never played in Oakland and is averaging just 13 points while shooting 10 of 31 (32.3 percent) in two career games against the Warriors.
The Wizards’ back court has a little something to prove.