Surprisingly, the simple answer for me is “not yet”. As good as John Wall was at Kentucky, earning the #1 NBA Draft pick, and becoming the franchise player for the Washington Wizards, those merits alone do not help him earn a maximum NBA contract. The Washington Wizards are still whispering a 5-year, $80 million offer for Wall, and that’s because they have to. It’s a simple, yet very complex situation for the Wizards. Wall is the unquestioned franchise player moving forward, but comparing him to other elite point guards in the league, he is not worthy of that kind of money right now.
The Washington Wizards franchise has made some very questionable moves in the past when it comes to resigning players for a whole lot of cash. Remember the Gilbert Arenas deal? The Wizards locked up “Agent 0″ to the tune of a 6-year, $111 million contract and zero became about as much as the Wizards received on their investment. Due to a knee injury, Arenas only played 13 games. In 2010, the Wizards finances took another hit with the resigning of an immature Andray Blatche, who still had two years left remaining on his contract. He was resigned at the tune of a 3-year extension worth $24 million. Both players fell victim to the amnesty clause and are no longer associated with the Wizards franchise except for one thing. Both players are still receiving paychecks. Ouch.
I believe that John Wall has earned an extension, just not the maximum. Does he deserve money like Russell Westbrook? Derrick Rose? Chris Paul? No, no, and definitely no. Rose was an NBA MVP by his 3rd season at age 22. Westbrook was already named an All-Star before his 3rd season, and both players made deep runs in the NBA Playoffs as offensive forces. If you compare Wall to Paul, it’s not even fair. Paul lead the league in steals, averages 2.3 more assists per game, 4% better FG shooter, and 6% better 3-point shooter. As for Wall, he’s never been to an All-Star game, never made it to the playoffs, and is not an offensive threat at the same level.
In Wall’s credit, he’s been constantly better with each season he’s played. Last season, he posted career highs in field goal percentage (44.1%), but that’s still not on an elite level. He’s also averaged a 26.7% from deep last season. Currently, Wall has only made 49 3-pointers in his entire career. Again, not up to par if you are really going to pay him a maximum contract. So shooting isn’t his thing, what about assists? He should rack up and handle his possessions as an elite point guard. Last season, 30 point guards had a better assist to turnover ratio than Wall’s 2.38. 30 more? Not exactly in the upper echelon.
Wall is definitely an improving NBA prospect, and on his way to becoming one of the best point guards in the league. For now, we can’t compare him with guys like Westbrook, Rose, and Paul. Steph Curry got $44 million from Golden State, but Wall has not had near the impact. Guys like Jrue Holiday and Ty Lawson are not franchise cornerstones like Wall is supposed to be, make around $45 million on their contracts, and have more comparable numbers to Wall.
Unfortunately for Washington, they really have their hands tied behind their back on this deal. They need John Wall in Washington, and they need him happy to be there. While there hasn’t been much to smile about, an unhappy Wall could doom the Wizards for years to come as a team trying to get in the playoffs. Wall may not be a max. contract player right now, he can emerge into that kind of player. Wall will get paid, and Washington keeps their player. Everybody wins. Right?