John Wall is not used to finishing in anything but first — whether it be the NBA Draft, a footrace or any number of things. Wall has had a tough time adjusting to the constant losing with the young Wizards and his improvement has been stunted, frustrating many observers and Wall himself.
One more thing might be grating Wall: his apparent snub in the Rising Stars Game draft for All-Star Weekend.
No, Wall is very much in the game. He will be displaying all his passing and speed in this glorified pick-up game. Rather, Wall is more upset with where he was picked by team general managers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. This year’s game added this potential wrinkle to the proceedings because it is no longer rookies versus sophomores.
Wall was selected 12th in the fantasy draft by Charles Barkley, going behind Minnesota’s Derrick Williams, Detroit’s Greg Monroe, New Jersey’s MarShon Brooks. Wall is not having a great year, but he certainly is not that bad for an exhibition game. After all, Wall was the game’s MVP last year in racking up 22 assists in playing with college teammate — and now Team Chuck teammate — DeMarcus Cousins (who scored 33 points in the game).
Still, Wall was not too happy with the apparent snub (h/t Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk):
“It’s a joke to me,” Wall told Michael Lee of The Washington Post. “If they think there are 11 guys better than me, then that’s their decision. But I know what I think in my mind and all I can do is go out there and play basketball the way I know how to play.
“I wanted to be an all-star this year, but I didn’t play good in the beginning, then not having a winning record, that makes you not be an all-star. There’s a lot more I can do. So yeah, that’s motivation for that game. Picked 12th out of all those guys? If that’s how they feel, that’s how they feel. But I guess I still have to prove people wrong I see.”
No one doubts Wall knows how to play. Wall is averaging 16.9 points per game and 7.5 assists per game. But his shooting is still an extremely low 42.5 percent and his turnovers are up to 4.1 per game. It has been a disastrous season for the Wizards and Wall, as the point guard, has taken a lot of the heat for the team’s struggles. Not that the roster is anything to be excited about — an over-the-hill Rashard Lewis and inconsistent and immature JaVale McGee running with him.
Really, Wall’s ire comes from his disappointment at not playing at an All-Star level and achieving that goal. Everyone sees an All Star within Wall and is waiting for that All Star to come out.
Wall’s struggles have been slowing that progress down. And it has been frustrating.
It seems getting picked in the sixth round and being termed a late-round “sleeper” in this fantasy draft really got to Wall.
Wall certainly should have been picked higher as O’Neal and Barkley had some strange drafting strategies. He has a right to be upset.
So what will he do about it? Friday is going to be a big lesson for Wall. We will see how he reacts to this perceived slight.