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John Wall will be the first to admit that he’s had an up and down year. With that in place, he’d also like to be the first to shout out that Cleveland Cavalier guard Kyrie Irving has played fewer minutes all season than Wall played in October.
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Wall is fifth in NBA All-Star Game voting amongst Eastern guards, whilst Kyrie Irving is second. This no doubt rankles the Washington point man, and he didn’t hold back after being informed about his still-pending status when it came to the fans’ vote for the NBA’s midseason sometimes-classic.
"It's a joke" Wall, who didn't make one mention of his strained right ligament in his knee, bruise on the same knee, high right ankle sprain and bone spur, told CSNmidatlantic.com after his 15th double-double. "I played like horse[diddley-poo] the first month and a half but I still was averaging like 16 and eight. That's not bad numbers."
They are not. In comparison to the other backcourt competitors, Wall’s overall numbers hold up as well.
He’s averaging 19.6 points, 9.7 assists, and 2.1 steals a contest. All but the assists would serve as a career-high, and Wall could point to his league-leading 47 percent assist rate as evidence that his passing acumen (he averaged 10 assists per game last season) has hardly dimmed.
Dwyane Wade leads Eastern guards in voting, with Kyle Lowry coming in fourth behind Irving and Jimmy Butler. Irving has understandably played inconsistent basketball as he’s returned from a leg fracture, shooting just 34 percent while dishing out just 12 assists in 86 minutes. Wall racked up that many assists by the time we took our dumb Halloween selfie.
Of course, Irving’s not the one that should be on trial here. The fans, who control the vote of the starting five, should be.
If you’re not a cynic, you’re fair to point out that, when healthy, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving might be the two best guards in the NBA – and the fan vote is recognizing as much. Derrick Rose is having one of the worst if not the worst (now that Kobe Bryant has enjoyed a relative hot streak) 2015-16 of any high usage player, and he’s just behind Wall at sixth in fan voting amongst guards.
It is and forever will be a popularity contest: Kyrie Irving played basketball on ABC last June, John Wall played on NBA TV last May.
And, eh … so what?
John Wall, providing something rather unfortunate doesn’t happen, is not going to miss the All-Star Game. And unless someone like Rose is voted in as a starter, it’s not great crime if a great player with a shorter 2015-16 resume is voted in ahead of a more deserving player. Just about everyone in the NBA was fine and dandy with Kobe being voted in even back when he was shooting 31 percent, even if the Kobester was taken aback by the initial returns, and this will hardly cause a groundswell of support to take the fan vote away.
Especially when NBA coaches – the ones who vote on the reserves – hardly care and often whiff badly on their own choices. Especially when the league itself goes out of its way to allow its fans the opportunity to vote via myriad options. The NBA was way ahead of everyone in letting fans vote online all the way back in the late 1990s, and in (almost) 2016 you can vote via Twitter or even text. I just voted for Jimmy Butler via text while scratching out this paragraph, and I never return texts.
Most importantly, this is a basic cable exhibition played on a Sunday night in February. It might just be possible that fans prefer Irving’s style of derring-do over Wall’s. Even the most informed of NBA fan might just want to see Kyrie Irving play 18 minutes while John Wall plays 12.
Any valuation that prefers Kyrie Irving’s 2015-16 contributions above John Wall’s would indeed be a joke. Fan voting for the All-Star Game, something that engages followers and encourages fanatics from all continents, is not.
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