NBA / Jan 21, 2011 / 2:15 pm

Don’t count John Wall out of the NBA Rookie of the Year race

In the NBA’s Year of the Point Guard, the main characters have assumed roles almost like an ensemble cast in Ocean’s Eleven or Reservoir Dogs.

Derrick Rose is The MVP. Chris Paul is The Prototype. Deron Williams is The Underdog. Russell Westbrook is The Freak. Rajon Rondo is The Extraterrestrial. Steve Nash is The Philanthropist. Tony Parker is The Champ. Derek Fisher is The Ring Bearer.

The supporting cast? Chauncey Billups is The Hit Man. Jason Kidd is The Old Man. Tracy McGrady is The Bionic Man. Stephen Curry is The Legacy. Darren Collison is The Road Runner. Andre Miller is The Coyote. Mo Williams is The Depressed.

John Wall? Just call him The Rookie. And with half of this NBA season yet to be played, don’t count him out for being labeled “Rookie of the Year” by the time he’s done.

But isn’t Blake Griffin‘s name already carved on the R.O.Y. trophy? Isn’t the official press release written and ready to go, with only the final stats waiting to be filled in and the word “unanimous” in the holster?

Not quite.

Blake has owned the highlight reels and headlines, and is even getting some MVP talk. (During his 18-point, 15-rebound effort in a win over the Lakers on Monday, one of the Clippers’ announcers said it’s “not all that far-fetched” that Blake could win MVP.) But we’re not even to All-Star break yet. Wall still has time to make this a two-man race instead of a victory lap.

While Griffin is one of only four players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game — joining Kevin Love, Dwight Howard and Zach Randolph — Wall is just a few dimes away from being just the third player in the League to notch 10 points and 10 assists per night. Wall is averaging 15.3 points and ranks 5th in the League in both assists (9.3 apg) and steals (1.8 spg). He’s had 13 double-doubles in 28 games, or 46 percent of the time he’s suited up. His 10-point, 13-dime line against Milwaukee on Wednesday was his ninth straight game with at least nine assists, an NBA rookie record. His 259 total assists through his first 28 career games ranks second all-time behind Mark Jackson.

The Rookie has been running the show for a Washington Wizards team that has gone through roster upheaval via the Gilbert Arenas/Rashard Lewis trade and internal drama via the Andray Blatche/JaVale McGee bar fight, in the toughest division in the NBA (Miami, Orlando, Atlanta), all while fighting off a tough veteran backup (Kirk Hinrich) who wants his job and while trying to satisfy a lineup full of score-first guys who need the ball to stay relatively happy; namely Lewis, Blatche, Nick Young and Al Thornton.

The Wizards are 12-28 overall, and in the games Wall has missed due to injuries, 3-9. He makes them a better team. And as the Wizards get more comfortable with their new-look lineup featuring Young (20.9 ppg as a starter) and Lewis (13.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg with Washington) more prominently, they could at least pass Charlotte and make a move out of the Southeast Division basement. Not that Rookie of the Year puts as much stock on team success as MVP, but more wins helps any candidate’s case.

If the vote were held today, obviously Griffin wins. (And, to be frank, a lot of voters have already made up their minds no matter what happens between now and April.) But there are still three months left in the season, and all signs indicate the Wizards — and their franchise point guard — will be better in the second half of the season than they were in the first. There is plenty of time for Wall to make a late-season charge, similar to how Tyreke Evans overtook Brandon Jennings in last year’s R.O.Y. competition.

And as amazing as Blake has been, I’m sure we’d all rather see a competition than a drawn-out coronation.

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  • dagwaller

    Completely agree. I made a similar post in last week’s forums, forget where. It’s Griffin’s to lose, but Wall has a legitimate shot.

  • First & Foremost

    Wall would first have to get healthy and find his groove. Blake is [insert adjective] but John Wall has the skill set to become the 5th person ever to record a quadruple double. He was 2 steals away earlier this season. If he does that Blake could dunk from the 3-point line and not win the award.

    True, the race isn’t over but John Wall needs to start putting up some absurd stat lines. Then again, all Blake needs to do is make the Playoffs.

  • camdan11

    I’d still take Blake, but I like this article.

  • s.bucketz

    wall is still behind landry fields and dmc at this point

  • Average Jose

    No chance

  • http://www.haywoodplanning.com D.H.

    I’ll post a video on here of me anything anyone suggests in Blake doesn’t win ROY.

  • toldyouso

    man u people are retarded. Austin Burton, how about if john wall doesnt win ROY you stop writing opinion pieces. you need to exercise some kind of journalistic integrity, i know this is just a blog and all but c’mon. do you even believe the crap you write half the time? The NBA’s toughest division? how can it be the toughest division when Miami/Orlando/Atlanta get an automatic 8 wins per year by getting to play the wizards and bobcats?? SAN ANTONIO/DALLAS/NEW ORLEANS/HOUSTON/MEMPHIS. tell me what team is a pushover in the southwest. was it hard for me to figure that out? no, i actually just had to LOOK AT THE STANDINGS.

  • A-Slam

    completely un-related but steve nash said on his twitter account that if he makes the all star game he’ll try a dunk in the game haha

  • nocoastbias

    and to First & Foremost,

    the stuff u wrote in ur comment sounds great, except john wall had SIX steals the game he recorded his triple double, not 8. if you’re referring to the game where he had NINE steals, well he only had 2 rebounds that night. not quite that close to a quadruple double as you want to make it seem.

    hey maybe one of these days the wizards can win a road game, or maybe john wall will keep on shooting 3-13 for 10 points when he has keyon dooling and earl boykins guarding him…

  • what he said

    agree w/ #7

  • heiddi187

    Love Wall’s game and speed, watched him a lot in college and he is a future all-star all right

    but no chance, guy is averaging 3.8 turnovers per game and only has 1 game of no turnovers (and that was against the nets), has missed 12 out of 40 games, and his team is
    12-28 in the east and they have not won a game on the road.

    Landry Fields, DeMarcus Cousins and Gary Neal are all having a better first half of the season then Wall.

  • dagwaller

    @ I told you so – Ok, so the Magic went to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the Hawks made it to the second round, and the Heat are an entirely new team.

    3 of the top 5 teams in the East, not to mention the Bobcats are coming off of a playoff berth. 4 out of the 5 teams in the division were in the playoffs last year! How many other divisions can say that?!

    Only 2 teams in the West have more wins than the WORST of those 3 teams, the Magic. Lakers and Spurs, you may have heard of them.

    Again, all I had to do is…you know, look at the standings to find that out! Don’t know why you’re so mad, bro.

    Houston and Memphis? Haha dude I like those teams as much as anyone else, but if you think EITHER of those teams could handle the Magic, Heat, or Hawks in a series, I would love to put some money down with you. Easy money.

    Wall is legit, easily the #2 rookie at this point and honestly isn’t too far behind Griffin.

  • Mink

    sure Wall number are oke, 259 assist 9.3 average is nice but the 107/3.82 TO isn’t that well. Butt overal he is doing fine and if he’s going to play some more he can make a ROY case for himself.

  • toldyouso

    @ dagwaller, or would u prefer i just call u by ur name Austin instead?

    1. wow are we really bringing up LAST YEAR? ok lets bring up last year. yes 4 teams from the southeast division made the playoffs, congratulations thats great. its too bad to make it in the west you need a MINIMUM of 50 wins to get a spot. please factor in the quality of the entire conference before making your claims.

    2. are you really trying to compare conferences when you have a 17-24 bobcats team and an even worse 16-23 pacers team as your current 7th and 8th seeds!?!?

    3. honestly what does it matter if a team made the playoffs last season? the suns made the conference finals, should i still consider them an upper-echelon team? the hornets didnt have cp for most of last season and missed the playoffs, are they not formidable now because of their record LAST SEASON?

    4. once again, ur top eastern conference teams have inflated records due to the fact that they get to play inferior competition. LOOKING AT THE STANDINGS, you will clearly see: there are only THREE teams in the west with less than 18 wins. how many does the east have? NINE. yes more than half of the east have yet to reach the 18 win plateau.

    5. did i ever say houston and memphis can compete with Orl/Mia/Atl? i’m merely pointing out when you play your in-division opponents 4 times a season, i’d much rather play the WIZARDS and BOBCATS than i would the rockets and grizzlies. the comment in the original post is that the Southeast division is “the toughest division in the NBA” and all i’m saying is you have to factor ALL FIVE TEAMS to get an adequate representation of how good a division truly is. pretty logical way of looking at things wouldnt you say?

    i’m a fan of john wall. i WENT to the lakers game when he was in town. am i upset? hardly. the claim that john wall still has a chance in the ROY race is just a pathetic attempt at making an interesting article and should never have been written in the first place.

  • First & Foremost

    @nocoastbias Thanks for the fact checking

    The point of the article was that the race is not over. Blake is on an amazing run, doing great things right now but Wall was hurt and dealing with some roster turnover. He plays a harder position so that will be taken into account. He has the shooters to get assists and some guy with pogo sticks for legs to throw oops to from time to time.

    Yes he turns the ball over but how many games have you seen nash get 15 assists and 6 TOs? If his stat lines coming out of the break are:
    14 pts, 12 asts, 5 reb, 3stl, 3to and get around 43-45% he would make a great case for himself.
    On the other hand Griffin would have to chill out with the posters and both teams would need to finish outside the playoffs.

    How many times have you seen a boxer get knocked down and then comeback for a split decision?

  • nizzio

    It’s a no-contest at this point. John Wall missed way too many games and Blake is way too good

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ toldyouso – you make a very strong argument.

    What you’re arguing is that the Western Conference is better than the Eastern Conference. You have officially convinced me. I was the last person in the NBA-following world that didn’t realize that the West was stronger than the East. Awesome.

    If only Blake Griffin played in the division you keep referencing, your big arguments would have a SHRED of credibility. Unfortunately, he plays in probably one of the WEAKEST (check that – WEAKEST) divisions in the NBA. ONE TEAM has a winning record in that division! The Clippers have only 16 wins despite not having to play the Heat, the Magic, OR the Hawks. Logically speaking, that’s pretty sad.

    The Wizards are 9-19 with Wall, 3-9 without. Is it impossible for you to imagine that, had he not gotten injured, he might have led the Wizards to a win total comparable to that of the Clippers?

    Let’s not even get into injuries and talent level. Baron Davis has been on an All-NBA team and is a two time All-Star. Eric Gordon. Two first round picks this year. The Wizards? Haha dude I can go on and on telling you about how bad they are, but I’m sure you can figure that out on your own. In short, all Blake Griffin has to do is hustle, throw down big dunks and look tough. Wall? He has to hope that Yi Jianlian can hit jumpers and pray that Nick Young wants to defend his own man this or that play.

    The season is barely halfway over. Wall has put together an impressive resume statistically and has shown that when he plays, he helps the Wizards win, period. Maybe you need to take your Blake Griffin blinders off. Wait wait, let me guess – one year ago today, you were saying that Brandon Jennings was the ROY! Might as well give up hope, other guys!

  • Ganjah Luv

    How in the world would anyone say that Fields is having a better season? He puts up what, 10 and 7? Come on, thats pretty pedestrian. Even for a rookie these days. Walls numbers are the best of any first year PG currently playing in the NBA. Better overall numbers than DRose,ball smacking Chris Paul, DWILL, Rondo, KIdd…all of them.

  • toldyaso


    actually i drafted tyreke on my fantasy team last year so i was pulling for his success the entire season despite the fact that jennings is a local product.

    wow.. the clippers still play in the WESTERN CONFERENCE. that means they have to play every western conference team THREE TIMES a year, and only get to play east teams twice. once again the west being far superior to the east does factor into the overall equation.

    is it impossible for me to imagine that the wizards might have more wins had john wall not gotten injured? i’m sure its not impossible.. but it sure is unlikely.. btw they just lost to the suns by 19 at home… and ur “easy money” hawks are down 500000 (or 30, same same) to the hornets at home.

    john wall’s awesome. no question about it. but ROY? give up hope. its over.

  • Chaos

    Blake is having an awesome season, but Wall does have a chance. Wall has to be THE LEADER on his team and they are starting to trust him. he runs the offense. they dont have real finishers. Blatche and Young have talent but they arent accurate at all. Rashard is a shell of himself and the rest just arent that good. for him to almost get 10 assists a game is amazing. he has a higher degree of difficulty than blake. not to mention does have the same effect on the defensive end(LMA schooled him plenty in the Portland game). Wall has to be the man as a rookie freshh off one year of college, with a lottery team, at the hardest position to play. Blake may get the glory but Wall’s ceiling is higher and dare i say it, i think he will be better than derrick rose once he fills out and learns the game more. dude is like 6’4″ 200lbs with a 35+in vert and great speed and has great court vision. dude has a chance if he leads them on some kinda run

  • Buckus Toothnail

    John Wall has as much chance of winning the Rookie of the Year as Angelina Jolie letting me take a dump inside her mouth.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ toldyaso – haha i did the exact same thing with Tyreke.

    Ok, before last season, Griffin’s hype was out of control. He was the consensus #1 pick to be ROY. Then he got hurt, and Jennings scored 55. Then HE was the consensus #1 pick. And then Tyreke took over.

    Before THIS season, Wall’s hype was out of control. He was the consensus #1 pick to be ROY. The first half of the season, most people are picking Blake Griffin. Nothing saying that Griffin, with all his hustle and injury history, won’t get hurt or drop off while Wall picks up his own pace.

    You don’t think Wall will win? Fine. But to say that the race is over is ludicrous.

  • eRa

    look, blake somthing like 24 12 4 this month and has improved every month compared to the previous one. the clips are winning, the wizards are 0-21 on the road.
    theres no way wall gets even close to blake griffin. theres talk of landry fields taking walls spot as the 2nd best rookie (wich is BS).
    Also: Derrick Rose is no MVP.