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John Wall sounds like he knows he needs to have a big year

Aug 1, 2012, 10:52 AM EDT

John Wall AP

It’s time for John Wall.

He came into the league as a No. 1 overall pick with the promise that he could be one of those few and hard to find true franchise anchor players in the NBA. That he could be a guy who changed the fortune of a franchise for a decade or more.

And it hasn’t been that way. There have been flashes of that potential, but for the most part Wall’s first two seasons in the NBA have been good but not great. He scored 16.3 points per game and added 8 assists last season, but he has no jumper — he took 4.4 shots a game from 16 feet out to the arc last season and hit 29 percent of them. And when he went up for a three everyone cringed (at least he did that less often). You go under the pick on him.

This is the year Wall is going to show he can live up to the promise, or he’s going to show he’s a good but not elite point guard. And he seems to know that, from the tone of his comments to Dime Magazine (via the Washington Post’s Sports Bog, who gives us these quotes).

“You wanna do it all,” Wall told Dime. “You wanna be an All-Star. You wanna be one of the top five best point guards. You wanna make the playoffs, and get this city back to where they know they can be. When you have the playoffs, I heard how crazy it could be when everybody is wearing all white. That’s what I want to get to. I want to be the savior.”

“As a player,” Wall said, describing what would make him feel successful, “I think be where everybody expects me to be: lead my team, being a clutch performer, being a superstar. That’s what I think about putting it in exact words that I need to, so I can finally lead to my superstar statement and be one of the top five point guards in the league.”

Here is why I think fans need to give Wall one more real shot this year before moving on — fit.

Where you land matters. And Wall landed in a locker room that was a steaming pile of… well, you know. His rookie year the locker room’s dominant personality was Gilbert Arenas following his suspension for the gun incident. Then the personalities of JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and Nick Young started to take over and you had a team with a lot of talent but lacking professionalism in preparation and focus.

Ask yourself this question — what if Wall had instead spent the last two seasons around the Celtics’ locker room? How would his approach to the game and his understanding of how to be a professional be different? (And on the flip side, what would Rajon Rondo be like if his first two seasons were in a locker room like the Wizards?)

The Wizards have a better culture in the locker room now. You may say Nene is overpaid but the guy shows up and is a professional. Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor come ready to play every night. Rookie Bradley Beal looked good at Summer League.

But this team will only go as far as John Wall takes them. It is all on him now to be the franchise player. At least he seems to recognize that.

  1. poohman1975 - Aug 1, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    I don’t like you John Wall. You’re a no talent ass clown getting ok numbers on a bad team. You were hyped too much by Calipari and Kentucky which had lot of other talent.

  2. cowboysallday - Aug 1, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Do work John!

  3. zblott - Aug 1, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    If he couldn’t win a state title during his 5 years in high school or guide the only college team in history with 5 first rounders on it into the Final Four because West Virginia with their starting PG hurt on the bench was in their way (boy UK won quick once he was gone, though), how is Wall going to lead a team with less than stellar talent into contention? There is literally not one part of his past that indicates he’s a winner.

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2010/10/19/can-john-wall-follow-the-brandon-jennings-rookie-arc.html

    • zblott - Aug 1, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      If those of you giving the comment “thumbs down” could explain what part of John Wall’s past leads you to believe he can turn a team without elite level talent into a contender, I’d love to hear it.

      • rtfinch - Aug 2, 2012 at 11:14 AM

        It’s going to be his on the court play that leads the team, it’ll be nene, okafor, and travor ariza that lead this team in the locker room and at practice.

      • rtfinch - Aug 2, 2012 at 11:14 AM

        i apologize that wasnt english… its going to be his team to lead on the court******

  4. aldavis4president - Aug 1, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    @zblott – uhmm..I didn’t know winning in high school and college meant success in the NBA. Kevin love russle Westbrook Darren Collison and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t even make it out of the 2nd round while playing together. And I think we all agree klove Russ and collison r better then wall cousins and Bledsoe. Even though I think klove iz overrated. John wall will come around and be an all-star just watch. McGee blatche and young were all divas who didn’t care.

    • zblott - Aug 1, 2012 at 9:34 PM

      So I still see no reasons listed to believe John Wall will be a success. And Kevin Love did indeed go to the Final Four, so your one example is actually completely wrong. Good job proving my points for me.

  5. itsonlyaspeedbump - Aug 1, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    This sounds like blasphemy to Bulls fans, but he is similar D.Rose. Both are strong, explosive players at their best in the open floor, driving to the basket to dish out or finish themselves. The big difference is the mental thing they bring to the game. In Rose’s MVP season he was at best an average jump-shooter; at times quite bad. But he attacked instead of settling for jumpers. And he didn’t turn the ball over nearly as much.

    Wall needs to cut down on the turnovers and either greatly improve his jumper or shoot less. They’re putting a decent cast around him in D.C. He’ll be fine.

  6. sasquash20 - Aug 2, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    I understand why some people soured on Cousins but he should have been the number 1 pick. Yes he has some maturity issues but he clearly has the most talent in that years draft class. Wall will be ok but won’t ever be anything close to great. Turner is a 3 playing the 2 or even sometimes the 1. D.Favors will be a good baller once he gets more minutes. None of these guys is anywhere near Cousins(maybe Favors will be in time). Lesson here is you take the most talented player and hope he matures. Clearly that was Cousins.

  7. jwreck - Aug 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    itsaonlyaspeedbump sounds like he has a semi-realistic handle on the situation. Rose is really the player that needs to be brought up at this juncture. Being constantly smothered in media cycles gives us all short memories, and we all tend to forget that just a couple of years ago Derrick Rose was the hyperathletic point guard who had not lived up to the hype during his first two year in the NBA. There were articles nearly identical to this one written about him, followed by people saying things like “There is literally not one part of his past that indicates he’s a winner.”

    But the came his third year in the NBA, and everything changed. This will be the make or break year for John Wall, as it seems to be for all point guards. While they may have posted better numbers then Wall, if you look at the stats of Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Rajon Rondo, there is a noticeable shift between their numbers in years one and two and year three. (I may be totally off base on this, but I believe this was Lin’s third year as a pro too) For whatever reason, three seems to be the magical make or break year for point guards. The Wizards may not make the playoffs this year and they may not make the playoffs next year, but this year should tell us whether or not John Wall is the player who will take them there eventually.

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