The first time John Wall faced Derrick Rose, he left United Center wearing a walking boot after spraining his left foot. The second time Wall faced Rose, he looked silly as he tried to contest Rose on a fastbreak, only to watch Rose drop a between-the-legs pass behind to Joakim Noah for a breakaway dunk.
Wall has had his problems against many of the elite point guards in the league -- including Russell Westbroook, who totaled 53 points, 25 assists and 17 rebounds in two games against Wall this season. But as he prepares for his third and final matchup against Rose this season, he admitted that his fellow John Calipari product has given him the most fits. Rose’s stats against Wall this season (45 points, 17 assists and nine rebounds) pale in comparison to Westbrook’s -- believe it or not, Westbrook actually has a higher player efficiency rating (23.93) than the most valuable player candidate (22.99) -- but Rose has made Wall looked lost and confused on several occasions.
“Toughest thing is, he’s probably the toughest one to guard one-on-one,” Wall said about Rose. “He does a great job of creating contact and he does a great job of using ball screens. If you’re not right there with him, he goes right at the big. He really developed his jump shot, so he made it even tougher to guard him. You just have to go out there and hope he has an off night, really.”
Wall has totalled just 25 points, 16 assists and five rebounds in two games against Rose this season, and he is hoping for a better outing on Tuesday in Chicago. The former No. 1 overall pick has entered the league at a time when the point guard position is the most stacked in the league. There’s Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Stephen Curry and so on. This week alone, Wall’s had to go from guarding Westbrook to Rose on Tuesday, and then has to face Deron Williams on Sunday. Never any letup, never any shortage of lessons.
“It’s a great challenge for me,” said Wall, whose player efficiency rating as a rookie (15.15) ranks favorably with those of Westbrook (15.2) and Rose (16.05). “I knew coming into it, it wasn’t going to be easy. I watched these guys, admired them, patterned my game after basically all of them and try to take something from them. I’m the type of person that likes to accept challenges. This year has been tough, being injured, also not being injured, but letting guys do what they want and I think every matchup I do better, but they are still veteran guys and I’m learning from them.”