Before John Wall knew he was an All-NBA player for the first time in his seven-year-career, he concluded “it was a pretty cool season.”
The Wizards fell one game short of their goal of the Eastern Conference finals and one win short of 50 wins. Wall is the franchise's fourth All-NBA third-team selection, joining Gilbert Arenas, Juwan Howard and Bernard King.
Thursday, the league announced he was selected among the top 15 players in the NBA when he was named to the All-NBA third team.
Wall felt he should’ve been All-NBA two years ago, when he had a better season than Kyrie Irving but was left off despite being an All-Star Game starter for the first time. He’ll probably feel like he should’ve been second team.
Isaiah Thomas, who led the Boston Celtics to 53 wins and past the Wizards in a seven-game series, was All-NBA second team ahead of him.
Wall averaged career-highs in points (23.1), assists (10.7), steals (2.0) and field-goal percentage (45.1). He also had 50 double-doubles – 45 more than Thomas.
If Thomas is given extra credit because of his success despite being just 5-foot-9 and a defensive liability, consider Wall had surgeries to both knees on May 5, 2016.
[RELATED: Will Satoransky or Oubre play summer league?]
He wasn’t anywhere near top shape entering training camp in September and began this season with restrictions. He wasn’t supposed to play in back-to-back games until January but sped up the process when the Wizards began 2-8 and were in danger of falling off the cliff.
Wall responded by scoring a career-high 52 points, a career-high 20 assists and knocking down his first game-winning shot in the final five seconds. The Wizards won 17 games in a row at home and won their division for the first time in four decades.
“I have two healthy knees. I don’t have to go through a surgery again,” Wall said during exit interviews earlier this week. “Like I told everybody I banked on myself. After I have surgery I’ll come back a better player and it showed this season. All I can do is use it as motivation going forward.”
Bank is a small but big word. With the 2017 collective bargaining agreement, there’s performance-based criteria for which Wall now qualifies. Instead of being able to get 30% of the salary cap on a new deal, Wall can get a maximum 35% if he were to work out an extension for four more years.
It’s a wrinkle added to the CBA to give teams more of a chance to retain their own free agents.
When Wall signed his current deal, the salary cap was just under $60 million. When the league gets the completed audit of its finances June 30, the cap is expected to be about $101 million for the 2017-18 season.
The piece of the pie is bigger, but Wall seems more likely to ride out his current deal that has two years left and figure out what to do next.
How the Wizards progress will be key to whatever his decision is but he wants to win which means getting deeper than the second round of the playoffs in three of the last four years. He would like to do it in D.C. and this season and his All-NBA selection are at least stepping stones in the right direction.