John Wall and Blake Griffin were both featured in a SportsNation poll yesterday asking who would be NBA Rookie of the Year. Over 65 percent of respondents picked Blake Griffin... meaning that 65 percent were wrong.
Let me begin by saying that Griffin is an incredible talent and will surely be a star in the NBA. However, his physical style of play makes him vulnerable to injury, as we saw last year. But he is a relentless and highly motivated player. He is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds for a young Los Angeles Clippers team.
These great numbers, however, pale in comparison to John Wall's debut.
The rookie out of Kentucky is averaging 23.7 points, 10.3 assists and 4 steals through his first three NBA games. In his third game, he nearly notched a triple-double, scoring 29 points, dishing out 14 assists and coming up with 9 steals. While these numbers may be impossible to sustain over a full season, Wall has flashed incredible potential early.
Not only are Wall's numbers more impressive than Griffin's, but he is doing it from a more difficult position. The adjustment from college to the NBA is difficult for point guards. Traditionally, it takes at least one season to really master the pro game. Wall appears poised to master the NBA game from the start.
Right now, he is averaging more than previous rookie of the year winners Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, and his game looks more advanced. He looks to be a better passer early in his career than other young point guards, namely Russell Westbrook and D-Rose. He's also shooting the ball at a solid clip—50 percent from three and 46 percent overall. He does, however, need to cut down on his turnovers.
Wall looks to be the most physically gifted of the new point guard generation. Rose, Westbrook and Wall are all physically powerful and highly athletic. Their speed forces defenses to play off of them, giving them room to shoot mid-range jump shots and make largely uncontested passes.
And Wall is the fastest of the bunch. His extra gear with the basketball makes him a constant threat to get to the rim and will give him open looks and free passing lanes.
Without taking anything away from Griffin, Wall is clearly the best rookie in the league and, while it may be too early to suggest this, will become one of the premier NBA point guards within a season or two.