John Wall didn’t need to watch TNT on Thursday to know that he wasn’t going to make his first all-star start from fan balloting. Wall was so far behind Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving that a miracle would’ve been required and Wall wasn’t praying for one to come.
In the midst of the best season of his career, Wall believes that he has earned that individual accolade and just wants to make it to New Orleans for the Feb. 16 showcase, no matter how he gets there.
“I think I’ll just have to sit back and wait for the coaches to make a decision,” Wall said earlier this week, when asked about his expectations. “Basically, the fan vote, you know how that goes…It’s part of the game.”
When the starters for the 63rd NBA all-star game were announced, Wade and Irving both held onto their spots as the Eastern Conference’s starting backcourt. The front court in the East will be without a center – or a power forward – as fans selected LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
In the West, Stephen Curry and Kevin Love were both elected starters for the first time and they will join Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Kobe Bryant, who was selected to his 16th all-star game, second all-time to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant has appeared in just six games this season, proving that the votes are based on popularity and reputation more than actual merit. He has stated that he will not play as he recovers from a left knee injury. The biggest surprise was that Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter just two years ago, failed to earn the start at center for the first time in 2007.
Wall has the highest player efficiency rating (20.2), averages the most assists (8.5) and has recorded the most double doubles (14) of any point guard in the East. His PER actually ranks 10th overall in the East. He also had his first triple double of the season in Wednesday’s loss to the Boston Celtics.
Irving is the only point guard in the East averaging more points (21.7) than Wall (20.2), but Wall has led his team to five more wins and is currently sixth in playoff standings. He also had eight consecutive games in which he scored at least 20 points and another three-game stretch in which he scored 30 points.
Though he wasn’t able to catch Wade (929,542) or Irving (860,221), Wall moved up to third in all-star balloting, just ahead of the injured Derrick Rose. But Irving more than doubled him in votes (393,129). Wall said that being selected by the coaches would actually carry more weight with regards to his development.
Indiana Pacers Coach Frank Vogel and Chicago Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau have already declared that Wall is an all-star and Maurice Cheeks said recently, “This guy is good now.” NBA coaches vote for the reserves in each conference and those tallies will be revealed next Thursday. TNT analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill all had Wall on their list of all-star reserves.
“That let’s me know that the coaches think that I’ve been improving this year and I’m helping out my team as much as possible to be a better leader,” Wall said. “But I think you like fan votes because that lets you know how popular you are in the world. That’s what you like about it. But I think coaches, that means a lot more because those are the ones that respect you and change their game plans and determine how they’re going to guard you on a night to night basis.”