The #NBArank of John Wall
John Wall: Damn good at basketball, which rhymes. So it’s good his name is not John Facade or John Rampart.
Anyway, in the ESPN.com #NBArank project he’s ranked 40th in the league. More interesting to me, than rankings, however, is that he was rated with a 7.07 out of 10 by the collective collectivity of ESPN-related voters. Consider that along with the fact that there’s no where to go but up for Wall. Kind of scary, in a good way, for the Wizards fans who’ve never been apart of any sort of achievement.
OK, so I’m exaggerating about the achievement part. Making the playoffs four seasons in a row (2005-08) is a damn fine achievement for the team that I know, as sad as that may seem. But now achievement means making it past the second round. And that former achievement? Well, it doesn’t count so much anymore because no one cares (but not in a ‘no one cares about the NBA’ selective sample size of opinion that spawned a Mike Wise column kind of way).
Otherwise, four of us Truth About It.net writers — Rashed Mobley, Adam McGinnis, John Converse Townsend and myself — asked each other questions about Mr. Wall. And as he would say, Leggggo!
Rashad Mobley: John Wall has impressed virtually everyone who has seen him play this summer, and they’ve noticed that he’s quicker, stronger, shooting better, and most importantly more confident. When this lockout ends, and Wall is playing on a Washington Wizards team that is bound to struggle, will he be able to retain that confidence?
Townsend: He should be able to play with confidence, even in spite of a (potentially) sputtering Wizards offense; a lackadaisical, disinterested defense; and a losing record. A winning attitude – you do or you die – doesn’t fade away after a few wins, nor does it get lost in the panic of a string of losses. What worries me, though, are injuries stemming from poor running form and movement mechanics.
McGinnis: Confidence has never been an issue for Wall, noted from “Midnight Madness” at George Mason last year where I overheard him barking at Kirk Hinrich to motivate the team. From in person reviews and video clips this summer, Wall looks as explosive as he has ever been. Him maintaining his health is key, more so than any potential mindset issues with a struggling team. The losses naturally frustrate such a fiery competitor like Wall, but his experience going through a 60-loss season already should help him deal with it better, and hopefully some early success next season will provide a confidence boost to all the young Wiz kids.
Weidie: I think Wall will retain the confidence, and actually, I’m more weary that he will be overly confident. When the going gets tough, Wall will still have to find the balance between trying to take over game versus being patient with the coach’s plan and his teammates. As a point guard, I imagine he will struggle with this the most. It’s OK, all the greats go through this.
Adam McGinnis: Being around John Wall and watching his game up close, what has surprised you about him? What has disappointed you? What is an interesting observation about John that fans might not be aware of?
Mobley: What has impressed me most about Wall this summer is his competitive streak. He gets beat on defense, gets his shot blocked or throws an errant pass, but the very next possession, he follows up with a block, a jumper, or a nasty dunk. If he’s that competitive when he doesn’t have to be during summer exhibitions, it can only bode well for the regular season.
Townsend: I’ve been surprised by his explosive athleticism. Everyone and their grandmother — who wouldn’t know the difference between John Wall and any other neighbor – can clearly see he’s got wheels. But the second year guard is also a physical weapon. He’s bigger, stronger and faster than you, and he knows it.
Weidie: Despite cutting his cornrows/braids long ago and adhering to a “no tattoos” rule — implemented by Wall’s camp/AAU coaches in the spirit of image marketing the player to the masses, old school coaching principle, etc. — the kid has attitude. And not to say that physical appearance has anything to do with attitude, but it is to say that Wall is less of an innocent choir boy than his NBA-published persona has conveyed. And that’s a good thing. He’s not afraid to mix it up with opponents, such as Josh McRoberts, and he’s not afraid to cuss out a teammate, such as JaVale McGee. Exactly what you want from a leader.
Kyle Weidie: TRUE OR FALSE: After next season John Wall will be considered a top 20 NBA player.
Mobley: True. Although he was reluctant to admit it, Wall was banged up last year, and still averaged 16 points and eight assists a game. Now he’s healthy, learning how use to his speed to his advantage, and gaining more confidence in his outside shot. That adds up to a 20/10 season in my book, which automatically makes him a top 20 player in the NBA.
Townsend: False. The National Basketball Association’s top 20 players are an elite crew, a conglomeration of creative talent, jaw-dropping athleticism, and magnetic personalities. John Wall will impress, but it’ll be too early to grant him entrance into the NBA’s pantheon. To do that, Wall will have to stir up rabid fanaticism on a national level; he’s not there quite yet, nor will he be after next year.
McGinnis: True. Wall’s numbers are destined to improve across the board while his highlight plays and superstar Dougie/John Wall Dance persona benefits his ascension to a top 20 level in the eyes of fans, pundits and NBA players. Kevin Durant recently proclaimed him a future All-Star and I tend to agree with him.
John Converse Townsend: Will John Wall lead the new-look Wizards to the playoffs?
Mobley: No. I’ve spent this segment singing the praises of John Wall and his individual improvements. However, learning how to win on a nightly basis, and then instilling that winning attitude in the teammates you pass the ball to, takes longer than a summer to perfect. Wall and the Wizards will hover around that eighth playoff spot, but fall just short next year.
McGinnis: Wall will eventually lead the Wizards to the playoffs, but they are still at least a season away. While there seems to be an annual opportunity for a sub .500 team to sneak into one of the last playoff spots in the East, the Wizards have way too many roster question marks and overall organizational liabilities for me to forecast a postseason right now.
Weidie: Look Wizards fans, I know you are tired of the draft lottery. Losing both it and games, nay seasons, is pretty stale now. Still, prepare yourself for ping-pong ball excitement for the fourth straight time and the 11th time in the last 15 seasons — that is, if there is even a lottery next summer, or a draft as we have come to know it. Simply put, the Wizards do not have the horses to make the playoffs next season; and the current coaching staff, as much progress as they’ve made with individual players, has proven less than capable in being able to reign in their team as a cohesive unit. No, 15 minutes of excitement leading up to draft lottery revelations aren’t worth it, but embrace the scene next time nonetheless. It’s going to be the last Wizards draft lottery for a while.