John Wall is an NBA superstar, but the officials have yet to treat him like one when it comes to blowing their whistles against his opponents.
Over the weekend, John Wall and the Wizards faced the Charlotte Hornets, a game where Washington got dropped 98-93. During the contest, Wall and Frank Kaminsky got “into it,” and the referees quickly assessed Wall his 14th technical of the year. It was unwarranted. And the former Kentucky standout doesn’t want to bite his tongue anymore.
“I’m just tired of these B.S. technical fouls that I’m getting,” said Wall as he aired his grievances to Candance Buckner of the Washington Post. “It was just a back-and-forth talk. Just a common talk you have, and Danny [Crawford] just came in and said, ‘Technical fouls.’ I’ve heard worse than that before and vulgar words have been said, which weren’t said then, and then they just slap a technical foul. I’m getting tired of it.”
The technical puts Wall closer to the mandatory one-game suspension that’s handed out on the 16th technical.
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He joins college teammate DeMarcus Cousins as one of the league’s perceived hot-heads, and the officials sometimes get Wall’s passion confused with his temper. The Wizards play with a chip on their shoulder, and Wall and Bradley Beal are the two captains. Washington’s turnaround has been sensational, and their 26-12 record since Jan. 1 puts them third in the league behind the Spurs and Warriors.
Wall’s been the catalyst for the team on both ends of the floor and is averaging 22.3 points, 11.4 assists and 1.7 steals during that stretch. His plus/minus is also a team-high 6.3 but, as you peruse the stat sheet, it’s impossible not to gawk at his shockingly low amount of free throws.
Of the 33 players averaging more than 20 points since the start of January, Wall’s 6.8 attempts a night put him at 15th overall, according to NBA.com. It’s not blasphemous that he’s in the middle of the list because he’s ahead of some other superstars: pre-injury Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Gordon Hayward, just to name a few, but he’s not a guard who spends a lot of time on the perimeter.
Wall loves to go downhill and attack the basket, and he’s got the size and athleticism that makes him a feared driver. Of those 33 guys, Wall shoots the seventh-fewest threes a night (3.4), and all the guys below him are forwards. If you guessed that he had something to say about the officiating outside of technicals, you’d be right.
“You drive to the basket and get contact the whole game and try to make up for those calls the last two or three minutes of the game. It gets frustrating.”
His argument knows get interesting.
Keeping with our theme of all stats being taken from Jan. 1, Wall drives the ball nearly 12 times a night (11.9), and that’s second in the league to the Hawks‘ Dennis Schroder (12.2). Also per NBA.com, there’s only one player who shoots more free throws on average when he drives, and that’s Russell Westbrook — the lead is minimal, to say the least: 3.4 for Westbrook and 3.3 for Wall.
That, of course, is just on a micro level. Once you start looking at the big picture, it’s evident that Wall isn’t getting superstar treatment. And, frankly, it’s because he’s just now becoming a superstar. This year is the best Wall’s ever played, but he’s taken the crown as the East’s best point guard. With 22.9 points and 10.8 assists, he joins James Harden and Westbrook as the only three players averaging those numbers.
“They need to stop showing favoritism to certain players,” continued Wall to Buckner. “If you’re going to give techs out, be consistent both ways with them.”
As much as I don’t want to give the refs an excuse, this level of play is something we haven’t seen from Wall until this year, and they’re still getting acclimated to him playing like this on a regular basis. Eventually, it’ll work itself out, but the Wizards have played just fine whether he goes to the line or not; he averages more free throws in losses than in wins (7.1 to 6.4).
What these no-calls have done is teach Wall how to finish through contact because he can’t always rely on getting the whistle. Despite his frustration, it’s made him a better finisher. The Wizards are a virtual lock for the postseason unless they decide not to show up for the remaining games (literally), and officials are more apt to swallow their whistles during games in April, May and June.
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