Two of the best and brightest young point guards in the NBA have flourished early on in the 2013-14 campaign.
Stephen Curry was already regarded as a blooming star after his stellar postseason performance last May. John Wall, on the other hand, has yet to fully live up to his number one pick expectations that he entered the league with, but with his quick start to the 2013-14 season, Wall has elevated himself into the conversation with some of the best guards in the league. (For the purpose of this discussion, keep in mind we are comparing who is more important to their team, not who is purely the better player. )
Many times, defense gets overlooked when evaluating NBA players. For example Carmelo Anthony is a suspect defender but a lethal offensive player. Many people think that he is still better than Paul George, but George is one of the few guys in the game who can consistently score on and defend LeBron James. If defense is half the game, then why do people treat it like less than half?
For the discussion of Curry, his defensive struggles are often overlooked. Because Curry is not a superior athlete in comparison to the likes of Russell Westbrook and Wall, Curry often struggles guarding spot-up jump shooters. On spot-up jump shots, Curry’s opponents shoot 40.5 percent when going at Curry. Because Wall is the superior athlete of the two, his added length leads him to hold opposing shooters to only 32.3 percent from the field, a rather large difference for spot up shots.
One of the big differences between the two defensively is that Curry often times is abused in the post. Curry gets posted up more than eight percent of his total defensive possessions and when he is posted up on, opponents shot nearly seventy percent. Curry’s lack of size and physical strength is a major disadvantage and one of the key reasons why point guards like Chris Paul and Westbrook were able to dominate on the offensive end earlier in the season when they played the Warriors.
Comparatively, Wall gets posted up on less than 3 percent of the time, and when opposing guards do post him up, they shoot only 20 percent from the field. A 50 percent difference between the shooting percentages of opposing players when posting up Wall verses Curry.
Another reason why Wall is more valuable to his team is that he is the lone offensive option on his team that can create his own shot. Wall leads the league in touches per game with more than 98.2 touches per game. Curry only plays two fewer minutes per game than Wall, but only averages 76.1 touches per game. In addition the pure amount of times Wall touches the ball, he also leads the league in time of possession per touch.
Because of Curry’s superior cast, he is able to showcase his more complete offensive game than Wall. Curry is by far the superior shooter of the two guards. While Wall has improved he is still a very inconsistent shooter and is still mediocre from three. Curry on the other hand is the league’s best three point shooter, maybe he’s second behind Klay Thompson, but either way not only can he dominate off the dribble but from behind the arc. Interestingly enough out of players that average more than 75 touches per game, Curry has the highest average of points per touch. Curry also shoots a better percentages on drives to the rim then Wall does. This efficiency with the ball allows other offensive weapons such as Harrison Barnes, David Lee, and Klay Thompson to get their own shots.
In the past ten games, Wall and his Wizards are 7-3. In these last ten games Wall is averaging 20.6 points and 9.6 with a plus/minus of 7.9. Not surprisingly these numbers are above both his season averages and career averages.
At this stage of their personal careers and teams rosters, Wall, 23, is more than two and a half years younger than Curry and is far more of the focal point offensively, which is why he more important to his Wizards team than Curry is to his Warriors.