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Is John Wall more athletic than Russell Westbrook?

Wizards guard’s performance to open the 2017-18 NBA season made a strong case


Warning: This post contains A LOT of John Wall highlights.

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall had a hell of a season opener on Wednesday night in his team’s 120-115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. And his performance went far beyond his 28-point, 8-assist and 5-rebound stat line. If there’s one takeaway from Game 1, it’s that Wall can straight hoop — and against the Sixers, he did so in a number of ways.

First, Wall embodied the age-old basketball proverb by “jumping out the gym” with a few highlight-reel dunks. In the first quarter, he posted up Philadelphia guard Nik Stauskas, bulldozed him to the hardwood and made his way to the basket, where he made Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot his casualty with a left-handed jam.

In the third quarter, Wall caught Luwawu-Cabarrot slipping again with a smooth hesitation move en route to another left-handed dunk.

During the offseason, retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant challenged Wall on Twitter to make the NBA’s All-Defensive first team this season. Wall’s response? “Say no more!!” And against the Sixers, the All-Star point guard began his quest to fulfill the Black Mamba’s summons early, with this ferocious block on rookie point guard Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft.

Another dunk … why not?

This time, Wall blazes up the court and finishes the play on the receiving end of a two-handed alley-oop. Don’t forget that Wall won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 2014, and a year later he made the case on The Dan Patrick Show that he’s the fastest player in the NBA and could beat Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook in a 40-yard dash. “I win,” Wall said in 2015. “I think it’d be close, very close. He’s explosive. I think I’m fast going straight, he’s quick and explosive.”

This brings us to a very important question: Is Wall more athletic than Westbrook? We’re not talking about scoring ability or triple-double output. We’re talking about all-around athleticism, in the form of speed, bounce and defensive tenacity. The argument could be made on any given night, like Wednesday against the Sixers, that Wall has got Westbrook beat in all three of those categories. There certainly isn’t another point guard in the NBA who could defend the reigning league MVP as well as Washington’s floor general. And if you don’t believe Wall is more athletic than Westbrook, you’ve gotta admit — it’s pretty close.

Aaron Dodson is a sports and culture writer at Andscape. He primarily writes on sneakers/apparel and hosts the platform’s Sneaker Box video series. During Michael Jordan’s two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s, the “Flint” Air Jordan 9s sparked his passion for kicks.