WASHINGTON — The John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving debate has raged for years, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Sure, Irving just got his first ring, but nobody will argue he was the clear No. 2 to LeBron James. But prior to James and Kevin Love coming to town, the 2011 No. 1 overall pick had a cumulative record of 78-152 over his three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Then again, Wall’s record through his first three seasons was even worse, at 72-158, though he and the Wizards enjoyed a significant breakthrough in his fourth season, going 44-38. Wall also had more help around him in his first few seasons than Irving did.
The two players are, of course, near opposites as far as point guards go. Wall is a pass-first, hyper-quick guard who looks to get his teammates open shots first and foremost; Irving is more of the new breed of point guard, somewhat in the vein of Allen Iverson, who specializes in killer crossovers and a keen scoring ability.
Wall has averaged at least 7.6 assists per game in every season since he was drafted with the first overall pick in 2010, and he’s on the fringe of his third consecutive season with at least 10 assists per game. Irving has averaged fewer than six assists per game in five of his six seasons, with the one exception being his 6.1 assists per game season in 2013-14.
Irving has scored more than 18 points per game in each of his seasons, at least 20 per game in four seasons, and his career average is 21 per game. Wall’s career average is 18.4 points per game, and he’s never averaged 20 per game in a season, though this season he’s scoring a career-best 23.7 per game. Irving is also averaging a career high in points, putting up 23.6 per contest.
That brings us to this season. Here is the breakdown for the first third or so of the 2016-17 season.
Wall: 23.7 points, 9.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 0.6 blocks, 4.4 turnovers, 24.2 Player Efficiency Rating
Irving: 23.6 points, 5.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.1 blocks, 2.5 turnovers, 22.2 Player Efficiency Rating
Irving is the better shooter, and even though Wall has improved his shot selection and jump shot recently, the former Duke star still has the edge over the former Kentucky Wildcat. Irving is shooting .473 from the field, .420 from 3-point range and .877 from the free-throw line; Wall is shooting .463 from the field, .333 from beyond the arc and .813 from the charity stripe.
The Sports Junkies took on the debate on Thursday morning, about 12 hours after Wall put up 36 points on 11-for-19 shooting, 11 rebounds, nine assists and two steals in a shorthanded win against the Indiana Pacers.
Host John-Paul “JP” Flaim took Irving’s side, saying he prefers a player who gets his own points, while noted Wizards fan John “Cakes” Auville defended the local point guard, saying he prefers the traditional point guard who looks to get his teammates involved.
Per the early results of a Twitter poll, the crowd — while admittedly geographically biased — sided slightly with the Wizards star at a rate of 54 percent to 46 percent.
So … who ya got? Vote in the poll below or in the Twitter poll above.