[A John Wall jumper, original picture via the Internets.]
“I never really had to use my jumper before,” John Wall told Kevin Van Valkenberg of ESPN The Magazine earlier this fall. ”I was so much better and faster than everyone, it didn’t matter.”
Welcome to the big leagues, Junior. Wall may have been the sixth-fastest player in NBA history to 2,000 points and 1,000 assists, but he’s not a top shelf NBA product. Not yet. ESPN’s NBA Rank project, which I participated in this season (here’s the full list of voters), ranked Wall as the 55th best player in the Association. He came in at No. 40 after after his rookie season.
Wall isn’t the fastest player, either. Not according to the 11th annual, and always entertaining, GM Survey on NBA.com. The survey asks every general manager (or team president) in the league to respond to 57 questions about the best teams, players, coaches, etc. GM’s are not allowed to vote for their own team or personnel.
The atmosphere at Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University on Tuesday evening was certainly exciting. Washington Wizards fans gathered in long lines for a free event featuring an open scrimmage, Wizards Girls dancing, Wale rapping, little kids shooting hoops, and to catch glimpses of their new basketball team. When the doors finally opened, people rushed into the arena, trying to score a prime seat as the George Mason band rocked Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
Those anticipating a quality basketball performance, however, were likely disappointed, as John Wall, Trevor Booker, Nene, and Trevor Ariza sat out due to various injuries and were merely spectators during the unremarkable hour-long scrimmage. New assistant coaches Don Newman and Jerry Sichting led the White team against a Sam Cassell and Don Zierden-coached Blue team. Head Coach Randy Wittman looked on, rotating from sideline to sideline all evening and never afraid to get his point across at any moment. Both Kevin Seraphin and Chris Singleton received the brunt of audible displeasure from their coach.
Bradley Beal struggled getting open, Martell Webster knocked a few shots early but then kind of disappeared, and Jan Vesely still has major issues with fouls. Emeka Okafor was a force on defense, but his offensive post moves were lackluster; Seraphin, on the other hand, continued his interior scoring prowess, although at times he let himself get pushed away from the basket by Earl Barron. Also, Jordan Crawford’s shot selection opened the door for critics.
>> We start with a big Kevin Seraphin block versus Tunisia.
>> James Singleton is moving on; Roger Mason, too.
With the Wizards reportedly unwilling to pay anything more than the veteran’s minimum, John Singleton moving on and Roger Mason signing with the New Orleans Hornets represents cost-considered moves for the Washington franchise (see cliche phrase: “It’s a business”). In a sense, this is a disservice: not finding a way to reward the efforts of Singleton and Mason while offering some constancy to a young team. Inreality, the Wizards weren’t offering much playing time. Shooting from Mason would have been nice, the same with the grit of Singleton, but with roster capacity now at 13 — and the need to see how all the new feature parts fit together first– the Wizards can afford to hold off on filling the last two available spots, per report of the Washington Post’s Michael Lee. Not retaining Mason and Singleton was not part of an ideal offseason plan for the Wiz, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t come along an inspire the team from the end of the bench just as well.
>> ESPN’s Marc Stein reports (via Twitter) that the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are interested in Andray Blatche. Both are solid organizations and could help turn Blatche into something. Each city also drastically differs in nightlight options, which understandably could have a significant influence on the overall “Party All-Dray” experience. Blatche has for the past couple of offseasons made his home in Miami. So there’s that. San Antonio has the Riverwalk. Also:
“Everyone knows San Antonio is a great city… they do have some big ol’ women down here,” famously said Charles Barkley.