"Rook, I am the best shooter in the league. In the league, understand? And you're up here trying to tell me something?" - Larry Bird to Reggie Miller, as Reggie tried to distract Bird between free throws.
Of the 30 first round draft picks in this past draft, 28 have signed. Rookie first rounders often sign without fanfare, and sometimes without as much as a press release, since there's not really anything to announce. With only the rarest of exceptions, first rounders were drafted to be signed straight away, so it doesn't really need breaking when, say, John Wall signed his rookie contract. (Google "Washington signs John Wall." This is the only website you will find.)
The things John Wall can't do, he soon should do. He's not a good shooter, but his form is fine, so it should come around. He's not a great defender, but he's athletic enough to be, and can win possessions; he just needs to stay focused more on the perimeter. And while he doesn't do much pick and roll game in the half court, he admittedly didn't have a whole lot of opportunity to do that at Kentucky. As for the things he can do, those can't be taught. And they're pretty bloody hard to forget.
Pick 1: At 7pm ET, and 12am BST, the draft coverage gets underway. ESPN give themself a generous half an hour to try and create tension in the first few picks. Will John Wall be taken number 1? Will Evan Turner be taken second? And will the Nets go big with Derrick Favors at number three? The answers are yes, yes and yes, and anyone who can create a Twitter account or read an RSS feed knows it. The whole thing is more predictable than a film where Will Smith plays the good guy with an attitude, and more tepid than a three week old coffee in a Norwegian fish factory. But we're all here playing the game anyway.
Inevitably, the Wizards will be drafting John Wall. You know it, I know it, John Wall knows it, Sally Gunnell knows it. Nonetheless, the build-up continues in earnest.
[...] It takes a while, with proceedings held up somewhat by David Stern's encouraging the crowd to boo at the mere mention of the word "Celtics." The Wizards are being given five minutes to decide something they decided weeks ago, but the thin veneer of drama that draft night carries decrees that we must pretend an extra five minutes will help them make this bollock-breaking decision. We also have to wait as Stu Scott asks the panel whether John Wall is nervous, which he clearly isn't, because he too has known this was going to happen for over a month. Time is filled by a breakdown of Wall's game by Jay Bilas (who claims that Wall will benefit greatly "when he learns how to defend", which is never the most soothing sentence to hear in a description of a number 1 pick), and we are also treated a video clip of Kwame Brown being drafted 1st by the Wizards back in 2001, (a clip which is just too soon, and which will always be too soon to the team.) But no amount of procrastination can change the fact that eventually, Wall is picked.
Wall should pair up fairly well with Gilbert Arenas, and the Wizards should be a good full court team. Neither player is a great point guard in the half court, but in that regard they can help each other, and Wall should help Arenas rebuild his value (so that he may then be dealt.) Wall's jumpshot is not all there, but the form is solid, and thus it should be something he can easily develop. And while he has the tendency to drift defensively and doesn't do a particularly good job of keeping opposing slashers out of the lane, he has the athleticism to make up for it and win possessions. His flaws are fixable, and his strengths are strong indeed.
Unfortunately, Washington made news earlier in the day as well by agreeing to acquire Kirk Hinrich and the Bulls first rounder (17th overall) in exchange for essentially nothing at all. Washington will have lots of cap space this summer, and an unspoken understanding that no elite free agents will want to use it, so they've decided to use it via trade. It's a decent strategy, but unfortunately, it's not a decent trade. Kirk Hinrich might be worth his money to a competitive team looking for a final piece at guard (and with bad salary to send out in return), but Washington takes only the negatives of his deal with nothing more than a non-lottery first for compensation. Consider for a moment that Miami traded the #18 and Daequan Cook for the #32 only this week, and this trade pales in comparison. Hinrich is a much loved individual, described in more depth here, but he's not good enough to justify this.
It doesn't change the Wall pick, but it does kill the jubilation. When you've got Kirk Hinrich, do you need John Wall any longer? Yes. Yes you do. More than ever, in fact.
[...] Wall walks up to the podium wearing Wizards colours, almost as if he knew this moment might happen. Mercifully, he does not do his patented dance; regrettably, nor does David Stern. Had he done so, I think we'd have to retire draft night.
A cut to a shot of the Wizards war room shows a host of officials who look strangely relieved that Wall fell to them. (More comedy needed in war room shots. Maybe stage a fight. Or have dancing elephants in the background.) A cut back to the studio sees John Wall's first NBA interview involves a Ron Mercer name drop within the first sentence. Can't bode well. Later, an on-screen caption requesting fan's opinions on the trade shows a small percentage of fans spitefully gave the move an F grade. Money well spent on the vote there, lads.
Flip Saunders will likely be the fall guy before the year is out, because someone has to be. But he’s trying, moreso than his players. You can’t teach a team that won’t listen. Washington’s offense is built around a point guard who can’t shoot, a shooting guard who won’t stop shooting, and a big man who shoots whatever he wants before blaming others for it on Twitter. All this is complimented by a defense that just doesn’t understand fundamental defensive positioning, nor that seems to want to try. In stockpiling assets and loading up on potential, all the Wizards have done is create a cast of misfits. Misfits who, for the most part, play as though they are in it only for themselves.
Dearth of on-court discipline notwithstanding, there is a genuine depth of talent to the roster. But even their genuine prospects are suffering. John Wall in particular is off to a terrible start, shooting 35 percent from the field, turning the ball over four times a game and looking thoroughly baffled in the halfcourt. Wall will however at least try to pass, but the same cannot be said for the whole team. As good of shot makers as they are, Andray Blatche, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford seem content with looking only for their own, running isolation after isolation, damaging their reputations, shooting percentages and team performance in the process.
John Wall is in the process of fulfilling all the promise we have spent years questioning whether he had. After a sophomore slump, a long term injury, and some struggles initially coming back from both, Wall has taken huge leaps forward in the past few months and is now the best point guard in the Eastern conference. He is still a bit short of his self proclaimed status as the best in the entire league, but he is getting closer every month, and the possibility is legitimate. Given the responsibility of captaincy, the pressure of the ball, and the reward of a max contract, Wall has seemingly embraced all this praise and pressure and responded, ever improving in his floor game and ability to improve his team mates, whilst also expanding his own offensive game with some improved jumpshot range. All facets of his game need further refinement, not least of which would be more consistent defensive effort, yet Wall is the driving force behind this improvement and the foundation around which it is all built.
Note: Non-US teams that the player
has played for are, unless stated otherwise, from the top division in
that nation. If a league or division name is expressly stated, it's not
the top division. The only exceptions to this are the rare occasions where
no one league is said to be above the other, such as with the JBL/BJ League
split in Japan.