Sports Illustrated revealed the names at the very top of its rankings of the Top 100 NBA players for the 2016-17 season.
Wizards star John Wall, while still sliding inside the top 20 players, fell four spots from No. 13 last year to No. 17 now.
Here's some of what writers Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney had to say about Wall. First, the praise:
Wall is a genius of basketball geometry who sees through the clutter and the rotations to find the best possible angles. Even some of the game’s other top passers operate within a read-and-react framework—the lane opens and a play is made. Wall operates in a way that actively engineers those openings, not just through speed and agility but creative design ... No other guard in the league last season generated more three-pointers off the pass and only one set his teammates up with more potential assists.
Ok, so that's a pretty glowing review. But then come the (valid) knocks on the Kentucky product.
Wall wasn’t the cause of Washington’s lost season but he did surprisingly little to redeem it. Zoom out further and you see a troublesome, Rondovian trend: Despite his impressive playmaking, Wall hasn’t yet led the Wizards to average offensive efficiency in six seasons ... Wall’s rough shooting off the dribble undoubtedly plays a part, given that he insisted on taking nine pull-up jumpers a game last season to miserable ends (38.4% eFG). Overdribbling can be a problem at times, too, when Wall is hunting for a particular passing angle that might not materialize.
Making plays and running offense are, in a sense, two discrete skills. Wall is noticeably further along in one than the other—to the point where even his strengths are undercut by his judgments.
As for his strengths and weaknesses, SI lists his pesky defense and great size, but notes "poor shooting" and "weirdly inefficient in transition" as drawbacks.
A few additional observations on Wall's game: A lot of the offensive inefficiency is at least in part due to the players around him. Washington doesn't have a lot of consistent shooters on the roster.
Marcin Gortat is a reliable option in the pick-and-roll, and Bradley Beal is a talented 3-point shooter. But Beal missed 27 games last season. Markieff Morris joined the team at the trade deadline primarily as a defensive presence. And Otto Porter took fewer than 10 shots per game.
If Beal's not on the floor and opponents play good pick-and-roll defense, Wall doesn't have very good options in front of him.
To give context to the ranking, here are the points guards who came in above and below the Wizards All-Star.
No. 26 - Mike Conley, Memphis
No. 25 - Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
No. 21 - Damian Lillard, Portland
No. 17 - Wall
No. 14 - Kyle Lowry, Toronto
No. 5 - Russell Westrbook, Oklahoma City
No. 4 - Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers
No. 3 - Stephen Curry, Golden State
That means SI views Wall as a top 4 point guard in the NBA. That's hard to complain about unless you argue that he's better than Lowry. But better than Lowry, Lillard and Irving? Top 4 seems more than fair.
And as previously discussed, three Wizards were ranked on the lower half of this Top 100 list, a decent haul for a team that missed the playoffs.
MORE WIZARDS: Three Wizards revealed on SI Top 100 list