Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Is John Wall Worth $80 Million?

John Wall signed a new $80-million deal, yet still hasn't played a complete season in the league. (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: Is John Wall worth the five-year, $80 million deal he just signed with the Washington Wizards?

 Based on he early returns of his career, a five-year deal worth $80 million would be overcompensation for John Wall if he were on any team other than the Washington Wizards. The repetitive knee injuries, the aggravations from playing too much in the offseason, and the photographic evidence of his lax training resulting from the two are worthwhile risks only because Wall is supposed to be the franchise's savior, drafted as a new face for billboards after Gilbert Arenas wore out his welcome in D.C. To this point, Wall has played a comparable number of games in three years with the Wizards as Michael Jordan did in two years there during his career's twilight.

But what Wall showed in January, after returning from yet another ailment, was promise enough. His last season averages of 18.5 points, 7.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, added with his career-high 44.1 percent from the field, showed Wall was capable to find the balance between scoring and distributing needed to effectively lead a high-caliber team. The Wizards' top-six rankings for offense and defense during Wall's January return are proof of that. His chemistry with rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal also gave Washington's front office confidence in their ability to surround Wall with more young pieces that could elevate the franchise to the NBA's top tier. Drafting Otto Porter while retaining Wall is a subtle co-signing of the Wizards' continuing belief in his point-guard-of-the-future (-borderline-present) status.

There's two ways to look at this new John Wall deal. One is that Wall will go from $7.4 million last year to roughly $16 million this season thanks to the new five-year, $80 million deal. This is a substantial price for a player who has battled through injuries and has yet to play 70 games in any of this three NBA seasons. While wall is also putting up solid numbers for his career, 16.9 points and eight assists per game, he still needs to work on his shooting, as he only averages 42 percent from the floor and 24 percent from 3-point range.

The second way to look at this team is by comparing it to other contracts around the league and the type of player the Wizards are getting for their money. Last season Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh and Rudy Gay were among the players who made more than Wall will with his new contract, and you could argue none were as important to their team as Wall was to the Wizards. Wall's teammate, Emeka Okafor, was paid $14.4 million last season for 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Also, if looking at point guards, the Bulls paid Derrick Rose $17.6 million to sit on the bench the entire year and the Nets paid Deron Williams $18.4 million, who posted similar numbers to Wall. Wall is the face of the franchise and the Wizards have proven they are going to build around him to give him more offensive pieces (like Bradley Beal and Otto Porter) to work with. He may have had injury issues, but like Rose, his potential and the amount the teams have invested in him already makes it worth the $80 million over five years.

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