John Wall, Natural Born Leader | Truth About It.net

John Wall, Natural Born Leader

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Updated: July 12, 2010

[This article originally appeared on ESPN's Daily Dime for July 12, 2010, click for the full version.]


Wall talks to teammate JaVale McGee after a missed rebounding assignment.


It started from the second the ball was thrown in the air. Actually, those familiar with John Wall’s leadership and communication know it started much before that, even before he was the freshman leader of a talented Kentucky team. Wall is a natural born leader.

He wasn’t just vocal on both ends of the floor in his Summer League debut, an 84-79 Wizards win over the Warriors, he was loud. If his teammates don’t hear his instruction, it’s not his fault. They aren’t paying attention. And he doesn’t just use his vocal chords, pointing to talk is just as much a part of Wall’s game as that extra gear of speed he has over all others on the court.

Want more talking and leadership? When out of the game, Wall placed himself toward the front of the bench, talking with assistant coach Ryan Saunders, talking to his teammates, yelling out instruction toward the floor. Over the course of the game, you’re looking at 30 minutes if you total the amount of time Wall spent talking with Sam Cassell, who is heading the Summer League coaching staff for the Wizards. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point, Sam I Am is always in Wall’s ear and Wall is always listening.

“Just listening to him is going to be a great experience because he’s been in this league a long time and he’s a vet,” Wall said after the game.

And Wizards fans, if you’re looking for a point leader to keep the über talented, yet in need of direction JaVale McGee in check, Wall is your man. Late in the game when Frenchman Kim Tillie out-positioned McGee for an offensive rebound, Wall got on his older teammate (by about two years and seven months) to not lose focus on the defensive boards, an area Flip Saunders has been preaching at McGee to improve upon.

“It’s not me trying to be bossy and say I’m bigger than anybody,” Wall said. “It’s just the point guard and my role to tell [my teammates] where to be and help my team get the best chance to win.”

Wall reinforced the need for McGee to get tough on the glass a second time as the players lined up for Tillie to shoot a free throw. But he also rewarded McGee multiple times, connecting with him for alley-oop after alley-oop. That combo needs a nickname, fast — SportsCenter just might get tired of showing them (but likely not).

“He’s a leader,” said Cassell. “That’s what we’re searching for, leadership, and he’s our guy.” A lot of Wizards fans are smiling right now because Wall is ‘their’ guy too.



  • szr

    Wall went 7 for 15, which isn’t terrible, but it isn’t good either. The bigger concern is that he continues to be a turnover machine. He really needs to improve both his shooting efficiency (or reduce the number of shots he takes and let better shooters handle more of the scoring load) and his turnovers.

    Honestly, this player has me worried because he’s just the kind of seductive talent that people love to watch, but won’t win you games.

  • szr

    Sorry, 7 for 16, and only 2 rounds. Rebounding at the point isn’t critical, but I’d like to see him at least average among guards in this category considering how bad the Wizards big men are at rebounding.

  • Wow

    its summer league, dude…

  • Wow

    and by dude i mean szr. Summer league is always turnover central. Cassel and flip will get the turnovers down. Stop being a negative nancy.

  • Will

    Pretty good start for a rookie. You guys need to give him time. That was his first game and summer league is always wild. It took Rajon Rondo some time to actually be productive. Derrick Rose was pretty good right out of gate but he still has room to grow and get better. Looking at John yesterday im confident hes gunna be a all-star. Yall should be mad at Javale Mcgee he did good offensively with those nice dunks but he still continues to struggle with his postioning. If you really know basketball you know what im talking about. People just see his flashy dunks and blocks and say hes good but hes pretty bad actually. He did look buffer though that was good. If he keeps working hard at his overall game he could be really good but I thinks he just gunna be a good role player for a while. Trevor Booker didn’t play much but he also look good. Overall I liked it, everyone just need to keep working hard and it will pay off for all of them even Javale. Go Wizards!

  • szr

    Its not so much about being a “negative nancy” whatever that means, its more than Wall turned the ball over a lot last year in college, and was also a somewhat inefficient scorer. I, and others, argued the reason his points per game were so high was because he took a lot of shots. Nothing about this, admittedly low-meaning, summer league tells he he is suddenly going to be a different player.

    Further, I’m extremely nervous of the way Wall was introduced to Washington. He’s a 19 year old kid who was introduced like the next LeBron James. Maybe he will develop into that kind of talent. More likely, he will develop into a middle-of-the-pack NBA guard (which considering the success rate of rookies, would actually be a very good thing). But you can’t undo the introduction of him as the franchise savior. I think its foolish to build up someone to such an extent, especially when their numbers do date don’t point toward a transcendent talent.

    I hope I’m wrong, I really do. But Ernie Grunfeld has always had a weakness of players whose contributions primarily come in the form of adjectives like “upside” and “developing” and “leader” and “intangibles”. But come late-season and playoff times, don’t deliver.

    Grunfeld describe Yi Jianlian as a player who has had success in the NBA and is only 22. But what is he talking about? Being generous, he was the 5th best player on a Nets team that won 12 games last year.

    Let me put it this way:

    2004-2005 = 45 – 37
    2005-2006 = 42 – 40
    2006-2007 = 41 – 41
    2007-2008 = 43 – 39
    2008-2009 = 19 – 63
    2009-2010 = 26 – 56

    The Grunfeld legacy in Washington.

    At what point do you fire your GM? He’s had many years to build something. The best he’s done is build a mediocre team. He’s traded away the four best players from last year’s 26-56 team. Can anyone really think that Yi and Hinrich are better than what got traded out? The rookies are untested, but in any case, few rookies even make it to become average NBA talents.

    On the positive side, McGee had a really good defensive rebounding performance. If he can continue that sort of effort on a regular basis, that will help a ton.

  • Mricklen

    First of all it is not just the Wiz that are excited by WALL. It is everyone in basketball. The Wiz were the only game in either Summer league to have a full house ball the NbA celebs were there. All agree that Wall is A transcendent talent.
    Yes there are reservations, he is 19 and one year
    Of college ball.
    But the excitement and physical skills and raw talent as well as tremendous attitude, bring something very special and needed to this moribund franchise.
    So please try and keep the spirits up and just enjoy!!!!

  • KentuckyChuck

    I sat infront of Flip Saunders at the game and he spoke very highly of John’s performance. The first few minutes were jittery for him, but he really smoothed it out.

    SZR, John Wall can handle the pressure and all of the attention, because he was groomed for it from HS and on. Majority of Kentucky’s games were played on national television. He knows how to capitalize.

    SZR, his stats? John had 24 points yesterday in a his NBA debut. He played less than 40 minutes & he has a tweaked groin. What else do you want from the guy? Sure 8 turnovers isn’t a little bit and that’s something he will continue to work on, but that will be addressed. At the beginning of the game when John wasn’t scoring he was still contributing with assists. One game at Kentucky, John has 16 assists. 16! That is ridiculous. 16.6 pts, 4.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists. That was John’s college stats. 4 turnovers also. Increase those points to 24 & assists to 9 and you have a program saver on your hands.

    Go Cats.

  • Will

    He did turned the ball over alot but my oppinion is hes gunna improve on it. Hes has a good work ethic and always wants to get better. If he doesn’t improve then hes just not going to play plain and simple. He knows it. Nothing to be nervous about, he gunna be a great player. I also don’t think praise hes been getting is going to effect him. Hes has said it himself that he not going to try to buy into all the hype. Hes just gunna play John Wall basketball. I like Ernie Grunfeld alot. Dont you remember what he did with Kwame. He Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins for pathetic Kwame. And he got Antawn for Devin Harris. He made us a playoff team pretty fast. How does a medicore team become first in the east? We just have the worst luck and our key players keep getting injured every year. Lately he has done some questionable trade I’ll give you that. Yi is alot like Javale, show flashes but still sucks. I prefer Javale over Yi. Kirk Hinrich wasn’t the best trade but it wasn’t the worst either. Ernie and Ted have a plan in place that we really don’t know to much about so we can cry all we want but we just have to wait a couple of years to see if it works. As for the Jamison and Caron trades I agree with you that it was bad but you gotta remember that it was the Pollins idea to “take care of them” and send them to contenders so Ernie didn’t really have much choice. Basically the Pollins took care of the players instead of the fans because we could of gottin more for those two. So I agree with you alot SZR but I still believe in Ernie.

  • John Townsend

    John Wall’s TO by half
    First: 5
    Second: 3

    Take that for what it’s worth (might not be much).

  • Sharon

    Jeeze, for crying out loud. It was one “summer league” game. I knew it would not take long for some “supposed” fans to be on my man’s butt. This guy had to play in a packed house with high expectations from pretty much everyone and he did well. Yes, he had turnovers but he got better as the game went on. I think we got a great pick and that Wall is going to prove to be pretty special. Even to all of the negative nellies. Give him time, he’s only 19. Look at Rondo then and where he is now.

  • Wow

    SZR,

    And now you turn this in to how EG should be fired when there article doesn’t mention him at all. Simply put, you *want* to complain. A negative nancy is what you are, simply put, although i liked sharon’s “negative nelly” too.

  • Mike

    The John Wall-to-Javale connection needs a nickname. How ’bout, “JaWall Ball”?