Next to LeBron, John Wall is the best player in the East

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) reacts to the cheering Wizards fans during the second half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, in Washington, Sunday, April 16, 2017. The Wizards won 114-107.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

John Wall is the second-best player in the Eastern Conference after LeBron James. Do you agree?

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The story:

The Washington Wizards, led by All-Star John Wall, defeated the Atlanta Hawks 114-107 on Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Washington hosted its first Game 1 in the playoffs since the 1979 NBA Finals, when the franchise was known as the Washington Bullets. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wall became the third player in Wizards history to record 30 points and 10 assists in the playoffs, joining Gilbert Arenas and Archie Clark. Wall scored 32 points, his playoff career-high. … Wall helped create (scored or assisted on) 62 of the Wizards’ 114 points. He has scored or assisted on at least 50 points four times in his playoff career, and the Wizards have won all four games.

Tim Cato from SB Nation:

Wall was hugely helped on Sunday by his finishers, namely Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris, who made his passes look great. But those passes were there over and over again, as Wall beat whomever was guarding him repeatedly. He set up a small business in the middle of the floor underneath the three-point line, where he could ship the ball to either side or down low with molecular precision. In another season, if there weren’t historic MVP candidates who demanded our focus, we could have talked a lot more about Wall. He’s averaging career highs in points, assists, and field goal percentage, and his constant pushing of the ball and full-court blurring when he takes off makes Washington’s offense into a deadly transition attack all by himself. Here’s one. Great point guards generally accomplish the same set of goals on the floor, each choosing their own preferred way to do it. Where Chris Paul is sneaky and exploitative, Russell Westbrook is soaring dynamics, and Stephen Curry thrives off causing panic, Wall’s trick is to treat the defense like they’re not even there. He’ll loft a touch pass over them to his big man, or glide by them effortlessly. Occasionally, he needs a bit of help — but his reaction here sums it all up, right?

John Wall:

“I take over the game in different ways,” Wall said. “I think that’s what makes me a great player. Early on, if I’m not scoring I still have to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. I might not get the shot, but my teammates need me to be aggressive to get those guys open shots. And when I play with the intensity I did tonight defensively, it means a lot, and gets everybody else locked in. … This is my house. I’m letting them know this is my house. Like I said, I play in the moment. I play with a lot of energy and intensity and when I’m not being aggressive like that and into it, I’m not a great player. But if I’m into like that… if I’m scoring and my teammates are scoring, I’m always gonna be hype.”

Gotta love the passion:

Wall’s highlights from Game 1:

What a pass:

What a move:

Barkley on Wall:

Scott Brooks on Wall:

“I’ve seen it enough and I know now just keep my mouth shut, let him take over the game,” Brooks said. “And he makes great decisions. He’s a high-IQ basketball player, and I tell him this all the time, I’m going to tell him this tomorrow: ‘You can dominate a game on the defensive end, you can dominate the game on your passing ability. Your scoring is just icing on the cake.’ And obviously if he wanted to average 27, 28 points a game or 30 points a game, he could probably do that, but it’s not going to make us a better team. He makes us a better team by playing the way he plays on both ends of the floor. He just brings a toughness, an edge to our team that we need. … John can take over games. He can take over quarters. He can take over plays. He’s a tremendous competitor, and he plays with toughness and he gets shots. Thirty-two and 14, that’s All-Star, that’s high-level All-Star game. Not only is he one of the best players at his position, he’s one of the best players in the league. And I see that every day.”

This is what it felt like:

Jerry Brewer from the Washington Post:

How good has Wall been this season? He became the first player in NBA history to finish with at least 1,800 points, 800 assists, 150 steals and 50 blocks in a season, numbers that make him sort of like the 6-foot-4 version of Milwaukee’s do-it-all prodigy, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Although Wall is in the statistical shadows of MVP front-runners Russell Westbrook and James Harden this season, he has accomplished plenty if you look beyond triple-doubles. Wall is just the third player in league history to average at least 23 points, 10 assists and two steals in a season, joining Michael Adams (in 1990-91) and Russell Westbrook (2015-16). Take away the steals, and Wall’s season represents just the 12th in league history in which a player averaged at least 23 points and 10 assists. Only seven players have accomplished 23 and 10: Oscar Robertson (five times), Westbrook (twice), Magic Johnson, Tiny Archibald, Adams, Harden and Wall. When it comes to scoring and distributing, Wall has had one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. It’s just unfortunate for him that he did it while Westbrook and Harden went bananas.

What do you think? Is Wall the 2nd best player in the east?

Debate by downloading our app on iOS at apple.co/1ITwL4w or on Android at bit.ly/fandings. You also can play online at playfandings.com.