John Wall said recently he thought he was a max contract player – what else is he supposed to say? – and NBA fans mostly laughed.
But Wall’s currently enjoying the best month of his career – 52 percent shooting, 21.8 ppg – and Monday against Memphis, Wall had the best game of his three-year career: 47 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in a win over Memphis. (It’ll probably be one of the 15 best stat lines of the season.) Wall, who danced his way into the NBA and was deemed “fat” before returning from injury, showed off the entire repertoire against the 5th best team in the West – step back jumpers, catch and shoot, attacking the basket, crossover rise and fire – and generally abused Jerryd Bayless all night. Steve Nash knows the feeling.
The woeful Wizards, 11th in the East and lottery-bound again, are 21-16 with Wall, and 5-28 without. No comment yet from David Falk.
But this still doesn’t address the max contract situation, because one game or one month doesn’t warrant a max deal. The Warriors had a similar situation with point guard Stephen Curry in 2012. Curry had an injury, missed some time, and many questioned whether or not he deserved a max deal. Golden State wisely gave him a 4-year, $44 million deal, and the results so far this season have been impressive: 54 points against the Knicks, his best season as a pro (career high averages in assists and scoring), and perhaps the label as best shooter in the league. Most importantly, Golden State is playoff-bound.
While I don’t see Wall taking the Wizards to the playoffs anytime soon – the roster is a train wreck – I don’t think the Wizards have any choice but to give him something in the ballpark of Curry by the October deadline. Wall turns 23 in September. He’s the best all-around talent you have. What could a Wall-Beal backcourt do in 2014 if healthy with the right pieces around them?