Paul Pierce is The Truth, and therefore he doesn’t lie. Also, he played in the NBA for 19 seasons. Point being: When Paul Pierce says something about the NBA, he probably knows what he’s talking about.
Here’s a thing Pierce said Tuesday, when asked to explain “how to not get embarrassed by John Wall”:
“How do you not get embarrassed by John Wall? First off, he’s so fast and dynamic. You can’t get up on him and crowd him, that’s when he drives to the hole — he’ll dunk on you with the left, with the right. He has the handles of a small guy, even though he stands 6’3″. He has the speed of a NFL running back.
So you pretty much have to give him space and let him shoot the jumper. If not, he’ll embarrass you all night. That’s why I consider him the best point guard in the league.
John Wall’s speed is equivalent to The Flash. I mean, this guy, he’s a blur in the open court. This guy’s probably the fastest end-to-end with the ball. If John Wall is running at you and you’re a defender, and he’s going full speed, you’re pretty much at his mercy. Expect to be on SportsCenter that night.”
Not only did Pierce play 19 seasons in the NBA, including six against Wall and the Wizards, he also played one of those seasons with Wall and the Wizards. So it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.
Calling Wall “probably the fastest end-to-end with the ball” isn’t exactly a hot take. The vast majority of the league would probably agree with that assessment, with all due respect to Russell Westbrook. But “the best point guard in the league” is high praise.
Westbrook, the reigning NBA MVP, is a point guard. Steph Curry won back-to-back MVP awards in the two seasons prior to Westbrook winning it, including the league’s first-ever unanimous MVP selection. James Harden played point guard last year and finished second in MVP voting to Westbrook, and his new teammate Chris Paul is frequently considered among the best of his generation. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a hybrid wonder the likes of which the league has never seen before, playing point guard despite a wingspan of roughly 35 feet.
But Wall has been in the top three in assists in each of the past four seasons, including leading the league in 2013-14. And last season he not only led the league in steals, he also became the first player in league history to average 20 points, 10 assists and 0.5 blocks per game. The season before, he fell 0.1 points per game short of meeting that mark.
Nobody in the NBA has the skillset Wall does, to be sure. He’s likely the league’s fastest player, arguably the league’s best assister (though LeBron James probably gets the title of the league’s best passer), perhaps the league’s best defensive playmaker (Draymond Green was the only other player last season to average at least 2.0 steals and 0.5 blocks per game), and he plays bigger than just about any other guard (only four players have ever averaged 4.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game while standing less than 6-foot-5: Jerry West, Dwyane Wade, Victor Oladipo and Wall).
So is John Wall the best point guard in the league? Maybe. Curry and Westbrook certainly have claims. Harden has a claim. Antetokounmpo has a claim. If LeBron keeps playing point guard as he did Tuesday night, he’ll have a claim.
But Wall has a damn good claim of his own, and he’s got one helluva voice backing him in The Truth.
(h/t Dan Steinberg)