The Washington Wizards have been through their ups and downs the past five years. Starting with a second round playoff appearance against the Miami Heat, and ending with a miserable 26 win season, the franchise was desperate for better days. Last night might have been the first step toward those days. With the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards selected John Wall from Kentucky.
So just how good can John Wall be?
Here’s what we do know about Wall. He is only 19 years old. He is explosive driving to the hoop, and has an uncanny finishing ability for a point guard. He runs the fast break as well as any player in the country and is extremely athletic. He is lightning-quick and has a great wingspan which allowed him to be a ball hawk on the perimeter.
His season averages this past year at Kentucky were:
16.6 PPG | 6.5 APG | 4.3 RPG | 1.8 SPG
PPG (points) | APG (assists) | RPG (rebounds) | SPG (steals)
Wall also shot 46 percent from the floor, not a bad statistic, but a lot of that is from layups and dunks on the fast break.
John Wall has all the tools to become a perennial All-Star in the NBA. He will need to improve his outside shooting, and the question remains on whether or not he can run a half-court set in the Association, but time will solve that riddle for us. His athleticism and ability don’t need questioning. At 19 years old, he has plenty of years to fine tune his skills. Many will point to the stacked team around Wall as a major reason for his success, but those arguments occur constantly in sports, and you won’t find out until that player leaves his companions.
Now, how will he fit in with the Washington Wizards?
The Wizards will have to decide whether or not to keep several players, including Josh Howard, so we’ll focus on the players we do know they will have. The key will be Gilbert Arenas. He is a shoot-first point guard who is used to having the ball in his hands, but it is likely that the Wizards will want to put Wall at point guard, as he is more pure at the position. Arenas is really a two-guard in a point guard’s body.
So, does Washington move him, at 6 feet 3 inches, to the 2 slot? Can he accept not being the facilitator of the offense? One thing is for sure: when Agent Zero is hot, he is hot, and can light it up with the best of them in the league. Having someone set up the plays for him to get open shots may work out well and take pressure off his shoulders. Randy Foye and Nick Young are in the mix as well. Washington sure has a lot of guards.
Andray Blatche, who exploded after the departure of Antawn Jamison, figures to work well with Wall. He averaged close to 20 and 10 a game in the last half of the season, and his development is key to the Wizards’ inside presence. The pick and roll from Wall to Blatche is something Wizards fans certainly have validity in saying could be prolific. Blatche may do well gaining more weight this off-season to increase his presence down low.
Javale McGee, Washington’s young athletic center, is a perfect fit with Wall. He can run the fast break, he has a long wingspan and can jump out of the building. The alley-oop potential is enormous.
From a franchise perspective, Wall will energize the depressed patrons of Washington. His first game is sure to be a sell-out at Verizon Center, as Wiz fans will finally have a hope for the future. Could Wall also help lure in another big name free-agent to D.C. this summer? Rumor has it there are some big names up for grabs. However, new owner Ted Leonsis may invoke the plan he has used in turning the NHL’s Washington Capitals into a contender (despite their first-round exit this year), building a young core through the draft in hopes of contending down the road.
All these questions will be answered in due time, but the Wizards are going to have to put the time and effort into putting John Wall in a good situation. They do not want the hyped Kentucky guard to end up like Kwame Brown, their top pick in 2001. Surround him with talent, which they have, and add in the necessary role players, and who knows… If Arenas shapes up, the Wizards could find themselves back in the playoffs next year.
“John Wall Stats, News, Photos – Kentucky Wildcats”, ESPN