Expected Date of Challenge: 2016-17
Right now, John Wall isn't particularly close to being the best point guard in the NBA, much less the premier player regardless of position.
In my NBA 200 series, the Washington Wizards floor general did rank as the No. 8 player in the league during the 2013-14 campaign, but that put him well behind both Chris Paul and Stephen Curry. So, why him and not them?
Well, Paul has been firmly entrenched as the No. 3 player throughout the Association for a while now, but he's going to be turning 30 when he leads the Los Angeles Clippers on a playoff run in 2014-15. Though he's still the class of the position, Paul will soon start declining, and he doesn't exactly have the untapped potential necessary to make the jump from No. 3 to No. 1 at any point in the future.
As for Curry, it's all about defense. The baby-faced assassin's offensive game is immaculate, but he doesn't have the physical tools necessary to morph into a two-way player capable of challenging for the top spot in the Association.
Wall, on the other hand, is already on his way toward becoming a dominant player on both sides of the floor, and he's still going to be just 24 years old in the upcoming NBA season. Plus, he's finally playing with a quality supporting cast that can help add team success to his list of credentials.
Once he develops a working jumper—and Wall did shoot a career-best 35.1 percent from downtown this past season while taking a career-high 3.8 triples per game—his offensive arsenal will be an unstoppable one. The Kentucky product is already one of the best distributors in the game, and there are so few defenders in the league capable of staying in front of him that even Gerald Green could count them on his right hand.
It's his defense that is so key, though.
Wall has always had the athleticism necessary to chase down players in transition and terrorize the opposition with his help defense from the weak side, but he became a disciplined stopper this past season. He stayed in front of his opponent, stuck with his man off the ball and thrived in individual situations, even if he didn't get widespread recognition for his efforts.
On the surface level, Wall's 2013-14 season doesn't look much better than his 2012-13 campaign, due largely to traditional metrics' inability to properly capture defensive excellence. However, he was an improved player on an improved team, and another two years of development should allow him to move into the true realm of elites when he's 26.