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Stan Van Gundy says John Wall not good enough for Wizards to build around

Jan 2, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

The Wizards are unquestionably the worst team in the league this season. At a record of just 4-25, Washington has four fewer wins than the Bobcats team that just finished up an 18-game losing streak.

Things are not only dismal in Washington, but few see any sign that the franchise has even begun to put the pieces in place to begin the long climb to legitimacy.

Go ahead and count Stan Van Gundy among the non-believers.

Appearing on ESPN 980’s The Sports Reporters last week (via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post), Van Gundy was clear in his assessment — not only does he not see a fit with the current players on the Wizards roster, but he also doesn’t believe that John Wall, whom the team selected with the number one overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, is good enough to build around as a franchise player.

“You know, I don’t see it, to be honest,” Van Gundy said. “I’d love to tell you you’re two years away; I really don’t [see it]. That roster doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I know they’ll be better when John Wall comes back. He’s certainly got talent, but I don’t know that even John Wall is a great player to build your franchise around. I don’t know WHO you’re building around, so it’s tough to even think about what the construction of your team is. That’s just a bad basketball team.”

“I think maybe they thought it was gonna be John Wall – maybe they still think it is. I think there’s a lot of people in the league – I’d certainly be one that would share this opinion – I don’t think John Wall’s good enough to be the guy that you build around. I think he’s got great speed and quickness, but point guard is a decision-making position. That’s what makes you great as a point guard, is your decision-making. I haven’t seen any indication that John Wall is a great decision-maker.”

Not exactly what you want to hear if you’re a Wizards fan.

Wall has yet to play a game this season due to injury, so kicking a guy when he’s down doesn’t necessarily feel all that great here. But he didn’t show marked improvement a season ago, finishing with averages that were either right at or a hair below those of his rookie campaign in nearly every statistical category.

We don’t know if Wall will turn into that cornerstone player once he gets healthy, and it’ll take even longer to evaluate Jan Vesely and Bradley Beal, the team’s two lottery picks that followed. Time will tell, but the start to this season hasn’t been all that encouraging.

With that in mind, the fact that one of the more respected former coaches in the game isn’t a fan of the combination of young talent that’s been compiled so far shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

  1. cantonbound13 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Go away Stan! Don’t you want to spend time with your family?

    • zerole00 - Jan 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      Why? He’s one of the top 10 viable coaches in the league, and his opinion is relatively unbias.

  2. brotherlove2012 - Jan 2, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    That franchise is a mess. I really hope that Wall gets better quickly, because their plan seems to be centered around him. I think they’ll have to go through a couple of bad seasons before they see the light. I wouldn’t be surprised they’ll have to trade Wall eventually in order to get better pieces of the puzzle. The GM has his work cut out for him that’s for sure.

  3. limonadamas - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    SVG’s right on. Wall’s good, but at this point doesn’t seem to be a “franchise player.”

    He has an iconic name though… “John Wall.” Having an iconic name is half the game (like “Max Power”). hahaha

    Hopefully Wall can prove the naysayers wrong in the coming years.

    • saint1997 - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      I think he definitely has the ability to prove them wrong. He could turn into a more physically gifted Tony Parker IF he starts getting some help around him. I think when he comes back someone to run the P&R with like Nene and someone to drive and kick to like Beal will only help. It’s up to him to hone that jumpshot though

    • saint1997 - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      And yes I have thought that before, he has the best name!

  4. patfic15 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    There should be a three team trade involving Tyreke Evans , Wall , and Kevin Martin. Doesn’t get anymore ordinary.

  5. twreck13 - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    I don’t see why he would have to be labeled that, there are only about 12
    to 15 legit franchise players in the league max and about 6 are split between 3 teams. It’s not walls responsibility to be some nba legend for the wizards

    • jjmb4 - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      I think it’s a little unfair to judge his progress on such a bad team. How a young player grows is by gaining positive experience by playing with more seasoned, professional players. He has had zero of that, and in fact the environment has probably set him back a long way. Not healthy at all for a young talented player. Put him on a better, or even more stable team, and you would see much more progress.

    • cordae - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      Because “franchise player” is synonymous for “#1 Overall draft pick”…


  6. shockexchange - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Put Horry Jr on that Wizards team and they would be just as awful as they are not.

  7. hwatt - Jan 2, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    If these tv analysts really knew what they were talking about, they’d still be active in the league…

  8. money2long - Jan 2, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    actually, SVG, i applaud wall for his passing ability. he got a good amount of dimes on a dysfunctional wizards team. and early in his career too. he just knows how to get assists.

    i know that always doesn’t have an accurate reflection of IQ, but still, john wall can be a GREAT point guard in this league. and i think he can easily be an all star if he ups his shot making.

    wall, to get the assists totals he did on that wizards team is an indication that he can be a great point guard given the right personnel around him.

    this time stan, i disagree. wall can def run a franchise given the right players. he knows how to distribute.

  9. cameltoehoe - Jan 2, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    First off. Stop making stupid decisions by practically stealing Agent Zero from GSW (twice). (File that under “careful what u ask for” file). Second, have a fire sale & ask for picks & expirings ONLY. Rebuild like Hornets. If they’re smart. & Lucky in the draft, they can rebuild as well as OKC & GSW. Smart choices, filling in gaps, & maybe build Stars like Durrant. Third, fire everybody & they mama. Hire a starter coach. One that will be a sacrificial lamb for the rebuilding years. Find a Defensive specialist asst coach from a proven Winner ie GSW’s Michael Malone. Fourth, erase all memories of past & current players like a bad memory. Ie Arenas & Wall. Only draft Junior Senior draft picks with experience & clean records/reps. Fifth, hire a young inexperienced GM with fresh & exciting ideas to pair with experienced Scouts to find talent on the D League & over seas (see Spurs legacy).

    If u say it can’t be done, check out the teams that are a top the West: LAC, OKC, SAS, MEM, GSW & UTH. Five of these teams rebuilt from scratch & the draft. SAS keeps young & fresh thru European scouting.

  10. eugenesaxe - Jan 2, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    Kinda harsh words considering Wall’s either not had anything to work with, or hasn’t played when he did.

  11. metalhead65 - Jan 2, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    fair or not he was picked #1 to make the players around him better and he has not. and if the guys around him suck it is his job to take over and make them competitive by doing all the scoring and rebounding if that is what it takes. they suck with or without him so no he is not a difference maker, they just suck less with him.

  12. spierce0701 - Jan 2, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    This guy has no idea who he is talking about. I respect him as an NBA idealist but I completely disagree with him. Yes, I am a wizards fan and I will have bias, but this is because I have watched every game that Wall has played. I am one of the only positive Wizards fans left out there but this is because I love this team.
    Wall came in his rookie year and should’ve one ROY but some stupid NBA rule allowed sophomore Blake Griffin get it, but i won’t get into that. Wall played with a bunch of scrubs, unlike Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams when they came in the league. The Wizards had Andray Blatche who was overweight and was just a knucklehead and bad influence. Javale McGee had no idea what he was doing on the court and often did some things that I’ve never seen, we got a VERY good person and player in Nene for him. Nick Young was a primarily offensive guy that helped no way in defense. After those guys, it was a bunch of scrubs, young or old.
    Walls rookie season was great matching Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and better than Westbrook and Williams. Then the lockout game. Oh and by the way Wall missed some time his rookie year and was never fully healthy, putting up those kind of stats is great. His stats the next year didn’t change much since he played with the same players for most of the season. He improved his jumper a little and became a stellar defender. He has also been a great passer throughout his short time and a very good vocal leader. He was one of the quickest players to reach a certain amount of steals, assists, and points but I can’t remember the number.
    At the end of last year the Wizards got Nene for McGee, a very good deal. Coming into this year they added Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Bradley Beal, and AJ Price. The starting lineup looked like this: Wall-Beal-Ariza-Nene-Okafor with Jordan Crawford as your sixth man, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, AJ Price, and Martell Webster coming off the bench as role players. Thats a pretty good roster with veteran and young talents. Many NBA insiders and analysts projected the Wiz to make the playoffs. Then the injuries came. Wall was diagnosed with his prolong and dreadful to wait for knee injury, and without him the offense would suffer. Nene had his foot injury. AJ Price broke his hand. Trevor Booker has leg issues and has been out for almost all year. Trevor Ariza injured himself when the Wiz beat the Heat, and others like Beal and Crawford have missed timer this year. They’ve had guys like Shaun Livingston, Shelvin Mack, Earl Barron, Garret Temple, and Cartier Martin starting games! Tell me how much have you guys heard about those players?! Of course the Wizards will stink right now! They don’t have their star player, Nene isn’t 100 percent healthy, their best defender is injured, and one of their best young big men, Trevor Booker, is still not healthy. It has been painful to watch them this year, and see people like Van Gundy talk about something they have no idea about. Wall is coming back in January, a VERY good sign. He was in a Yahoo Sports article about how much he’s progressing and how DETERMINED and HUNGRY he is to prove everyone wrong. He has proven to be a very good lane scorer sand free throw shooter, a lockdown perimeter defender, a great leader along Nene with this young team, and has shown he wants to win very badly with this team. Ted Leonsis knows what he is doing here and knows what he has in John Wall, a FRANCHISE player. And many of you may not know this but John, for almost an hour every game and for a very long time every practice, he works on his jumper and other vitals to his game with Sam Cassell, they sit side-by-side on the bench. As a wizards fan I am very excited for his return and what he’s going to do. Go read his interview on Yahoo sports and tell me that he’s not determined or hungry to be good. Watch the wizards play on ESPN on February 27th and watch a healthy John Wall show the world what he can do. This team is young, talented, and dedicated. I can not wait for people like Van Gundy to be shut up. Goodnight.

  13. kinggw - Jan 2, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Van Gundy doesnt have any idea what he’s talking about. Wall is among the best young point guards in the league. Unlike Irving, Westbrook, Rose and the new batch of point guards who are really shooting guards in disguise, Wall is a true point guard. That means for him to be his best he needs quality players around him. He hasn’t had that in Washington. Wall has averaged 16ppg, 8apg, and 5rpg with some talent deficient Wizards teams. I’d wait a few more years before giving up on a guy who has nothing around him. If we listened to people like Van Gundy, we would never see players like Rondo grow into the player he is today.

    • spierce0701 - Jan 2, 2013 at 9:28 PM

      Exactly, he’s ONLY 21. It’s not like he’s been in the league for 5-7 years, had good teammates, and failed. He just got a good supporting cast and he’s injured. Wiz are waiting for him to be 110% healthy. Plus, they’re only 9 games out of the 8th seed in eastern conference.vif that roster is healthy and can go maybe 30-20 or 35-20 stretch, they can make the playoffs, injuries have just killed them all year. But they keep playing with hard work and dedication and aren’t losing games by much.

  14. abchome - Jan 2, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    Harsh, but obviously true. Wall’s not even good enough to be a stat stuffer on a bad team.

  15. lakerluver - Jan 2, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    SVG may not be the most popular coach, or former coach, in the league but he is one of the most candid. I like him because he pulls no punches. He doesn’t seem to care about being politically correct. And on top of all that he’s a good coach.

  16. southsidegroovin281 - Jan 2, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    This is what happens when you go to uk and you’re promised to be to able to go to the NBA. Calipari doesn’t care about his players. He just recruits *cough* dirty coach! His team(s) is/are a glorified AAU team. John Wall left after one year and now look at him. Cousins is the only one doing anything in the league. Maybe Bledsoe too. But does any of them shock you? An the NBA players union needs to help the game out. IMO

  17. louhudson23 - Jan 3, 2013 at 5:04 AM

    He pretty clearly said that he hadn’t seen enough from Wall to believe he can be the cornerstone of a team and the Wizards in particular. The gist of the article is that the Wizards are bad from top to bottom and have no clear strategy other than to build around Wall,which is a strategy and belief that he(SVG) doubts is a viable one. He is smart enough to know that just because a team drafts someone as a cornerstone does not make that player capable of being one and nor does it mean that the player is not and cannot be a very good player in the league. He is stating facts and adding his opinion of what those facts mean. No more ,no less.

  18. droc4st - Jan 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    A couple of things 1. SVG is probably correct with his assessment of Wall not being a Franchise player but go back and look at the 2010 Draft Class it’s definitely one of the weakest classes in recent memory. #2 Since selection of Wall the Wizards has had four 1st round picks Vessly, Singleton, Booker, and Beal which equals to Bust, Journeyman, Journeyman, and Unknown (but looks like another Journeyman)…

    The real issue is horrible draft selection combined with lack of player development = Washington Wizards

  19. extragrindstar - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Well we know one thing for sure, Wall is better than any PG that SVG has coached. Opinions are like A-holes we all have one, so with that being said. I respect his opinion, but how can Wall be great when surrounded with guys who are used to losing and are just bodies drawing a check? OK Wall’s stat’s basically stayed the same from Rookie to 2nd year. With 2 coaches, there was no stability in WASHINGTON at all. Wall had a great showing with the USA Select Team, so he’s getting better. I just say let him grow and have a chance to be great before ppl start bashing.

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