Expectations are obviously high this season for John Wall. Every time he faces one of the league's All-Star caliber point guard, we're talking appointment viewing. Expect full calendar's considering the depth at the position.
In theory, Wall should have already faced Brooklyn's Deron Williams and Chicago's Derrick Rose this preseason, but neither played against Washington. On Saturday night, Wall should finally face a high-end point guard.
As a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Jrue Holiday made the Eastern Conference All-Star team last season. Now out West with the Pelicans, Holiday is the next preseason test for Wall. Washington and New Orleans meet Saturday night at the University of Kentucky, Wall's Alma mater.
The 6-foot-4 Holiday entered the NBA in 2009, one season before Wall's arrival and became the first player born in the 1990's to play in the league. Last season he ranked fourth in the NBA with 8.0 assists while averaging a career-high 17.7 points. Like Wall, Holiday's offensive game is more about speed, feel and athleticism than perimeter shooting, though he's a career 37.4 percent 3-point shooter.
The pair has met 11 times head-to-head. Over that span, the key stats widen in Wall's favor: 17.3 points vs. 15.7; 8.1 assists vs. 5.7; 4.2 rebounds vs. 2.8. Wall shot slightly better from the field and beyond the 3-point arc while each averaged 1.6 steals.
Six times Wall had more assists. Four times, they finished with the same total, including all three games last season. The only time Holiday finished in front of the distributing stat came November 23, 2010 in their second meeting.
In three matchups last season, the statistical showdown was essentially a push even though Wall was returning from a knee injury and Holiday's turned in an All-Star season.
Last season, Holiday averaged more points (19.0 vs. 16.3) thanks to a nine-point outing from Wall in the first of three games, which came during the rusty part of his return from knee surgery. Otherwise, both averaged 6.3 assists and 3.3 turnovers. Holiday picked more pockets (2.3 steals vs. 0.7) while Wall grabbed more rebounds (4.0 vs. 2.0) and shot a higher percentage from the field (43.2 vs. 37.9).
Obviously, stats don't tell the entire story for any matchup or game, but the Wizards will need Wall to more than his share of battles. Against Holiday, so far, so good.