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John Wall shows his world of potential, shows he is still 19 in first Summer League game

Jul 11, 2010, 11:34 PM EDT

jwall_no1.jpgJohn Wall is lightning quick. You think you know that watching his televised games while at Kentucky, but until you see him in person you don’t realize just how quick. It’s impressive, bordering on insane.

He flashed that speed in his first ever Summer League game. Plus he showed his great length, good defensive instincts, and some real feel for setting up teammates. And all at age 19.

But there is also a work to do. He didn’t blow anybody away with Game 1. It was nice.

Maybe the play that best sums up his first game: In the second quarter he pushed the ball up off a miss, drove into the lane and put on as quick and pretty a spin move as you are ever going to see and threw up a layup. And the Warriors’ Reggie Williams blocked it from behind.

Wall was the attraction and had 24 points on 15 shots, attacked the rim and got to the line. He had 8 assists. He also had 8 turnovers. Oh yea, his team won 84-79, but nobody cares who wins the games at Summer League.

One Summer League game borders on irrelevant. It is like the Rhode Island primary on the presidential election trail. What you want to see is the potential, you want to see him (and any player) improve as the week goes on. But right now, we have just one game to look at (game two is Tuesday against the Clippers).

In his first game of any kind for the Wizards, he pressed. He tried to go to fast and do too much at times. Wizards Summer League coach Sam Cassell kept pulling him aside and telling him to relax.

“His first shot hit the backboard so hard I thought it was going to shatter the glass,” Cassell said. “But he’ll be fine.”

Wall himself said he was playing too fast at first, which showed up in plays like a drive and kick to the corner that was wide of his shooter by 5 feet. Still, Wizards coach Flip Saunders was watching from the wings and was good with Wall’s first game.

“If you say he played kind of an average game, that shows you the kind of potential he has,” Saunders said.

There were highlights. Wall made a great connection with the high-flying JaVale McGee and had some ally-oops that got the large crowd in Vegas (a sold-out 4,000 seats plus standing-room-only media) leaping up and cheering. McGee did a really good job running the floor and picking up the garbage when Wall missed.

Wall also could have shot a lot more — he was easily the fastest guy on the floor — but did a good job finding teammates at points.

All the potential that has Wall being compared to a better Russell Westbrook, to saying he has some Chris Paul in him, was on display. So was the rookie at 19. What matters is how he looks tomorrow, how he looks at the end of the week, how he looks come training camp and that first game in November. Step one was nice. Not thrilling, but nice.

  1. milt - Jul 12, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    with all due respect your report tells us very little. we all knew he was iverson quick and could not yet shoot-but can he brake down a d even though they won’t guard him?, does he get the ball to shooters in stride, can he handle the ball against guys almost as quick, can he (did he) play d, does he want to play d. does he fight over screens and double down well and does he close out on shooters as quickly as he switchhes hands on the dribble? it is hard to figure out who is going to be good, who is going to be great and who will never improve. i understand that-it would seem that more emphasis on stuff guards have to do (aside from throwing alley oop passes!) wouild be nice.

  2. Anonymous - Jul 12, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    As a former D-1 basketball player, I must say I was impressed by the athleticism of John Wall.
    Of all the top draft choices, he really lived up to the expectations.
    I’ve watched the Summer League games from Orlando and Las Vegas; and, Wall was the only first round pick that looked comfortable playing and competing. He’s the real deal.
    The biggest disappointment was Daniel Orton. What a waste of a first round pick. He’s clueless.
    This young man needed to stay in school for another two to three years to develop his game. He may not even make the Orlando Magic. I see him as a D-League player in the future. Someone gave this young man bad advice.
    I don’t see the potential of Derrick Favors at # 3. He also looked confused as to what he was doing on the court. His numbers were very poor as were # 2 Evan Turner’s. Evan didn’t look like a number 2 pick.
    I was very impressed with Damion James, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Character. They should help their respective teams from the opening whistle.

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