Hardly any words will be said by John Wall or Kyrie Irving -- in the media, about or to each other -- but they know what Thursday's All-NBA selections mean in the big picture.
Already rivals on top teams in the Eastern Conference, it will go up another notch come 2015-16 after Wall was omitted and Irving elevated to the All-NBA third team.
Wall was the No. 1 overall pick of the Wizards in 2010 and Irving went in the same spot the next year to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wall has had to grind his way to respectability, a two-time All-Star who started in the showcase event for the first time in his fifth season. Irving was granted the lofty status from the beginning because of his flashy ball-handling and scoring ability.
Irving, however, had no business being selected to All-NBA third team, with 112 points total (least of the 15 chosen), over Wall. Wall only tallied 50 points in the voting the day after he was named to the NBA's All-Defensive second team for the first time in his career and became the first player from his franchise to make a team in a decade.
No real arguments can be made about the other point guards selected to All-NBA: Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. But Irving's placement is hard to fathom.
Was Irving that much better of a scorer? Not really. He averaged 21.7 points to Wall's 17.6 (and took two more shots per game). Assists? Irving, despite having LeBron James and Kevin Love to dish the ball to, had 5.2 to Wall's 10.0. Overall shooting is lopsided in Irving's favor, right? Nope. He shot 46.8% from the field compared with Wall's career-high 44.5%.
And when factoring in that the same voters, a select group of media that includes former players who are in broadcasting, think so highly of Wall that he was worthy of the All-Defensive team (you know, defense is 50% of being a complete basketball player) makes Irving's selection even more confusing.
But before going forward, let me debunk some of the brain-dead rationale that will be given to justify why Irving was chosen:
- Excuse: He was on the second-best team in the East therefore they deserved more than one player (James). The truth: The Atlanta Hawks were by far the best regular season team in the East. How many All-NBA players did they have as a result? Zero. Show me the rule where it says voters are obligated to do this. They're not. No more than Roy Hibbert should've been an All-Star because the Indiana Pacers were the best team in the East last year. Not equating Irving to Hibbert, but without Paul George we see clearly how one great player can elevate others who are far less skilled or just not as worthy.
- Excuse: Irving led his team to the playoffs. The truth: This is a lie and piggybacks on the previous point. James led the Cavs back to the playoffs. With Irving as the leader his previous three seasons, the Cavs won 21, 24 and 33 games. Conversely, Wall, who remains his team's best player and leader, has led the Wizards there in consecutive seasons, past the first round each time and to being a top 10 scoring defense for the third year in a row, including a 29-win season.
- Excuse: The All-NBA team isn't about position, it's about just the best players. The truth: Part of Irving's responsibilities as a point guard is to run the offense and be the head of the snake on defense. Individual defense, team defense, passing, rebounding and every other metric that doesn't show up in the boxscore counts. When the Cavs are in the crunch, who brings up the ball and runs the offense to get the shot or others those shots? Usually, that's LeBron James. With the Wizards, it's Wall. The burden and responsibilities just aren't the same and Wall still did better.
Six guards, six forwards and three centers are chosen. Was Irving more deserving than Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls or Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers? Not in my book.
(Side note: How in the hell did Carmelo Anthony get a vote for playing on the 17-win New York Knicks?)
Wall suffered, as did the others to a lesser degree, because of the attention that LeBron James brings to Cleveland. Some players will say this is why they're having their own voting for awards that come out in July, long after anyone cares about what happened in 2014-15, but they're going to be more flawed.
Their vote is anonymous. They'll vote -- Wall said he didn't care and wouldn't participate -- for their teammates, friends, alums and not vote for other worthy players over personal issues and jealousies. Every year, when NBA coaches vote on All-Star reserves, there's always a debate over who they overlooked because they tend to side with veterans and hand out lifetime achievement passes rather than focusing on that one season.
The reality is that someone always will be slighted because there are just too many good players and not enough spots available. But of all players who could be picked ahead of Wall for an All-NBA team, Irving just shouldn't be one of them. Not this year.
MORE WIZARDS: John Wall fails to crack All-NBA team selections