The Washington Wizards have been doggy paddling at the bottom of the NBA ever since Gilbert Arenas toted guns into the locker room. There have been mixed results on their subsequent climb but none more scrutinized than the prospects of John Wall.
Fans, rival GM’s and even agents have all weighed in on whether they believe Wall is the player to lead the Wizards out of the doldrums. For a player that didn’t jump onto the high school scene until his senior year and then only playing one year at Kentucky, are we being too quick in our assessment of his game?
Anytime a player is selected with the coveted number one overall pick there is a rush to compare said player to past picks. There is also a tendency to gloss over the fact of who else was in that draft class and what those subsequent picks accomplished in the same amount of time, barring injuries. Looking back on the 2010 class, Wall was the clear number one based off his raw athleticism and potential.
Only one pick from that class has even made an All-Star team, and that was Paul George who was picked 10th. DeMarcus Cousins had first pick potential but maturity issues scared four teams away before he was finally picked fifth by the Sacramento Kings. A few other picks have started to carve a nice niche in the league but none have really blown it out of the water since being drafted.
The team Wall first suited up for has drastically changed in his first three years as well. Only four players remain from that original 2010 roster and three of those were rookies drafted in the same draft as Wall. Placing the future of your franchise on the shoulders of a 19 year old kid was irresponsible of the Wizards to begin with. Not surrounding him with the right kind of talent and attitudes also contributed to the stunting of his growth.
Are there glaring deficiencies in his game?
Of course there are, just like any other third year player. Wall has averaged 16 points and eight assists for his short career even while playing only 18 games so far this season. Wall needs to continue to work on his jump shot which in turn will up his low shooting percentage and work on pace which will limit the number of turnovers he commits a game.
This Wizards team has shown that is is a much better team with Wall than without. With Wall on the court, pace picks up as well as confidence. The willingness to take the mid range jumper has also begun to open up the paint more for his drives to the basket. Having more talented teammates around him should also mean more assists has he learns to trust them more.
It took Chauncey Billups a few years and a few teams before he finally found his game. It took Steve Nash a few years and two teams before we started to see greatness. It even took Kobe Bryant two years before he finally cracked the starting lineup for good. Lets give Wall time to develop before placing labels upon him. Maybe he is the next great guard, maybe he isn’t it. Time will tell, not any critic 18 games into his third season.