Last week, John Wall declared himself the best point guard in the league. That’s quite a lofty statement for a guy whose team is at .500 for the first time in his NBA career. With injuries to the Bulls’ Derrick Rose and the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo, the Wizards star can make a legitimate case for being the best healthy point guard in the Eastern Conference. But the entire NBA? Wall could one day be the best, but here are four point guards from the West who should take offense at his bold proclamation.
John Wall, Washington Wizards
Why Wall could one day be the best: In his past seven games, Wall has averaged 24 points, 4.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but it shows how Wall has matured as a point guard. He’s developing a mid-range game and hitting the occasional 3-pointer. He’s making his teammates better and finally winning (the Wizards went 5-2 during that stretch). Wall has always been a one-man fast break with his lightning speed, but he’s improving on his weaknesses and developing into the most versatile point guard in the league. No one else has his combination of skills.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Why Paul is better than Wall: Leadership. Paul is the quintessential floor general. His presence makes everyone around him better. He has turned the Clippers into a perennial title contender after the lowly Los Angeles franchise made the playoffs just once in the previous 14 seasons before Paul’s arrival. And maybe his biggest accomplishment is leading Team USA to a gold medal in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. It’s not easy making everyone happy on a team full of players who are used to taking a shot nearly every time down the floor. Wall has a long way to go before he earns the type of respect around the league that Paul has garnered over his nine-year career.
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Why Parker is better than Wall: Championship pedigree. Parker has won three NBA titles and has made the playoffs every year since he came into the league in 2001. Meanwhile, the Wizards haven’t had a winning record since drafting Wall with the No. 1 pick in 2010. Most of the best point guards of the past 20 years surprisingly have not won titles (Paul, Steve Nash, John Stockton), but Parker has been the exception. Since 1990, Parker and Chauncey Billups are the only two point guards to be named NBA Finals MVP. With Tim Duncan’s career winding down, Parker has emerged as the leading man in San Antonio, and the Spurs haven’t lost a step.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Why Westbrook is better than Wall: Athleticism. Even after offseason knee surgery, Westbrook is the most athletic point guard in the league right now (and quite possibly ever). Wall might be the faster end-to-end player, but he can’t match Westbrook’s explosiveness and ability to finish at the rim. Westbrook and Wall are different kinds of point guards: The Thunder star is more of a scorer, averaging more than 20 points per game in the past three seasons, while Wall is more of a facilitator. But Westbrook gets the edge for his consistency over the years and his postseason experience. Though if you were to pair Wall with Kevin Durant, he’d probably be in the playoffs every year, too.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Why Curry is better than Wall: Shooting. In his first five seasons in the NBA, Curry has made 695 3-pointers. That’s 624 more than Wall has in his four-year career. Curry set a single-season record for 3-pointers made last season with 272. But the Warriors guard isn’t just a deep threat; he also is efficient from inside the arc and is a 90-percent free-throw shooter. The 25-year-old is a vastly improved passer and his assist numbers have increased as the Warriors’ front office has surrounded their young point guard with more talented players. Wall is an improved jump shooter this year, but teams will continue to challenge the Wizards point guard to take long-range shots.