Months removed from his first career NBA All-Star selection and ending the Washington Wizards' half-decade-long playoff drought, Wall didn't wax abjection or lament his fate. Instead, he took the "So-and-so will rue the day they moved forward without me approach" that has become a mindset staple over the last four years.
"Not even (against) just those (Team USA point guards), but the NBA, period," Wall said of his status, per CSNWashington.com's Ben Standig. "I guess I’m overlooked again. I guess have to prove myself one more time."
Last year, Wall had to prove he was worthy of a max contract. Before that, he was constantly tasked with shedding unflattering analysis. From his jump shot to his happy-go-lucky, is-this-kid-taking-his-career-seriously attitude, to his tattoos, everything about Wall has been under a microscope, analyzed and dissected to no end.
Perception began to change in 2013-14. The Wizards' meteoric rise from the Eastern Conference basement left Wall a leader of men, an elite point guard coming off a breakout season who was worthy of "star" labels and public acclaim.
He led the league in total assists (721), he shot a career-best 35.1 percent from deep, and he joined Chris Paul, Magic Johnson, Kevin Johnson, Damon Stoudamire and Isiah Thomas as just the sixth player in NBA history to average at least 19 points, 8.5 assists, four rebounds and 1.5 steals per game before his 24th birthday.
Only Wall's dismissal from Team USA reminds us that, despite his recent success, he's still not there yet, as Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes points out:
At the same time, if Wall's skills were more developed, he'd probably still be in the running for a roster spot. The cut proves his weaknesses are real—even after a 2013-14 season everyone termed a "breakout" one. ...
The dirty secret about Wall's so-called breakout campaign, though, is that it wasn't actually all that much better than his performance the prior year.
Losing out to Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose and Damian Lillard is nothing for Wall to be ashamed of. The NBA is overrun with talented point guards. All-Star floor generals were always going to be cut. It was unavoidable.
But his displeasure, his dissatisfaction is understandable—especially if, like NBA writer Michael Pina entertains, his exit is yet another deliberate slight:
For as much as things have changed, they remain the same. Wall's discharge may have not been personal, or even significant at all, but, in his mind, it's further evidence of doubt and the need for him to push back, play harder and deem himself worthy once again.
That's what next season will be for. How Wall follows up his "breakout" campaign will say everything. The Wizards need him to come up big, and if he truly wants to put more distance between himself and his most outright critics, he needs to come up even bigger than that.
"Nah, I don’t think so," Wall said when asked if he was given a fair shot at making the Team USA roster, per Standig, "but it’s a part of the game."
So, too, is recurrently facing skeptics. Whether Wall's exclusion from Team USA is of any substance or not, there will always be stigmas to fight, doubt to battle and people to prove wrong.
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