Time for a dissenting opinion about the Wizards and John Wall. Carter Bryant, a freelance sports journalist from the Baton Rouge area who has contributed to TAI before, guest authors a post about why Wall won’t bring championship riches to D.C., unless …
But first, let’s check out some John Wall highlights real quick:
Is John Wall the Answer?
by Carter Bryant
John Wall is not the answer in Washington.
This is not exactly what Washington sports fans want to hear after years of hardship, heartbreak and struggle since January 26, 1992 when the Redskins last raised the Lombardi trophy.
Multiple All-Star appearances, hard work ethic, cool dance moves and hope for a city in need of a savior are future attributes Wall will provide.
So breathe in and breathe out Washingtonians, the former Kentucky star will not be Heath Shuler.
But Wall will not bring a championship to the nation’s capital.
Since the first official National Basketball Association Draft in 1949, only five point guards have been selected with the first overall pick. Those five all have had different career paths.
Derrick Rose, Memphis – 2008 Chicago Bulls: 18.7 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.8 rpg
It’s unfair really to judge Rose’s career since it has only been two seasons long. But later in this piece will show why Rose will struggle to win a championship in Chicago (without help).
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Michigan State – 1979 Los Angeles Lakers: 19.5 ppg, 11.2 apg, 7.2 rpg
The greatest point guard to ever live. He transformed the way people look at the game of basketball with his winning mentality, infectious smile and means of court innovation.
Magic’s playoff success at the position may not at ever be matched. At 6’8’’, Johnson’s five championships and dominance of the 80’s were highlighted by big games and clutch shots point guards usually don’t make.
John Lucas, Maryland – 1976 Houston Rockets: 10.7 ppg, 7.0 apg, 1.8 rpg
Lucas had a solid, not spectacular career. The NBA journeyman never made an All-Star appearance.
Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati – 1960 Cincinnati Royals: 25.7 ppg, 9.5 apg, 7.5 rpg
I didn’t have to be alive to know Oscar Robertson was one of the best basketball players to ever breathe. “The Big O” is widely considered one of the 10 greatest players ever.
“O-Train” was masterful in postseason play, putting up numbers that can only be matched by his regular season play. But it wasn’t until 1971, a season his stats took a hit, when he broke through and won a title along side Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Gene Melchiorre, Bradley – 1951 Baltimore Bullets
Never played a game due to a point shaving scandal at Bradley. So no, I wasn’t lazy and didn’t want to blow dust off my basketball encyclopedia (my laptop) to get his career statistics.
The list above is a pretty impressive one. It includes two Hall-of-Famers and an active Top-5 player at the position.
But it is important to note power forwards and centers who have been drafted number one overall have won 23 championships combined. Point guards, shooting guards and small forwards have only won nine.
The NBA is often considered a point guard league. There are a plethora of great point guards in the NBA. Wall will immediately join this group of talented signal callers.
And let’s not get confused with the idea of a point guard leading his team to a championship. The position might actually be the least important factor on a championship team. The last two NBA champions, at the time, won with average signal callers.
Point guards do not win teams championships. Size, team defense, movement without the basketball and superstars who can make shots down the stretch does.
The last pure “alpha dog” point guard that led his team to a championship was in 1990 when Isiah Thomas led the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons to a title. “Alpha Dog”, a phrase Bill Simmons uses often, basically means Thomas was the clear-cut best and most-productive player on his team.
Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Derrick Rose will never hoist an NBA finals trophy if they are alpha dogs. These stars won’t win unless they get serious help from an elite level player. Bet on Russell Westbrook winning a title before those four guys because he plays with the NBA’s best scorer.
When Wall is announced as the first player taken in this year’s NBA Draft, he immediately becomes the number one option on the Wizards. Night in and night out, he will have to perform at a high level for Washington to make the postseason.
There are aspects of Wall’s game that can really raise viewer’s eyebrows in both good and bad ways.
Wall has the uncanny ability to stay cool under pressure when it seems his team is losing its grip on a game. Number 11 displayed this ability more often than not for the Kentucky Wildcats.
But wearing blue and white for Kentucky on the road against South Carolina is not the same as wearing blue and white for Washington on the road against Boston. Wall will have growing pains as the star of a losing team, as the better players on the floor will be wearing a different color jersey than his.
Wall’s ability to weave through traffic with never before seen athleticism is rather frightening for opposing teams. When he gets a head of steam, he is nearly impossible to stop from scoring or dishing off to an open teammate for easy baskets. He reminds scouts of Tyreke Evans, except better.
On the contrary, Wall’s first-step isn’t too explosive. When he doesn’t have his signature “head of steam”, he wasn’t too spectacular at beating defenders off the dribble in the half court sets, partially due to his lack of a consistent outside jumper.
The Wizards have no choice but to draft Wall. Reigning National Player of the Year Evan Turner believes he is the better all-around player, but he doesn’t bring the “Wow” factor that Wall brings. Wall’s numbers at the NBA Draft combine shatter’s Turner, and shows the Kentucky star can jump out of a gym.
Wall is an elite draft prospect that can easily have a Hall of Fame career. He, along with Strasburg-mania, is going to take the nation’s capital by storm. But Washington, one of the worst sports cities in America, must get used to more heartbreak, because they will have no chance at a NBA Championship in the next decade.
Who said a King and a President can’t both rule our nation’s capital?