As the 2010 NBA Draft approaches, a John Wall remains epicenter of the pre-draft discussion. From his dance to his game, Wall has stolen the spotlight.
Wall has already been anointed as the savior of the Washington Wizards, a franchise plagued by a roster filled with young, immature players and an aging, overpaid, gun-toting guard who will be almost impossible to move in the offseason.
Can John Wall really save the Wizards?
The sensationalist sports media hopped on the John Wall bandwagon even before he had played his first game. He was the next big thing. And he didn’t disappoint in his debut, throwing down reverse jams, hitting clutch jumpers, and dominating the NIT season tip-off at Madison Square Garden.
Wall completely stole the spotlight in one of college basketball’s brightest stages.
As the season progressed, the accolades kept pouring in. Kentucky dominated what was turned out to be an awful SEC. Wall’s signature play–a transition dunk over Georgia’s Travis Leslie, drew praise from all circles; even NBA analyst Charles Barkley said it was one of the best dunks he had ever seen.
A point guard cupping the ball and throwing it down with his off-hand over a specimen like Leslie is pretty impressive. But for all the jaw-dropping plays, Wall wasn’t necessarily a dominant force on what was arguably the most talented team in the country.
His athleticism is undeniable. Beyond that sexy aspect of his game, Wall’s jump shot is poor, his mid-range game a work in progress, and his defensive skills fairly undeveloped.
He clearly has the potential to be great, but potential can be a dangerous word.
Entering the 2010 Draft, John Wall is essentially Russell Westbrook, only with 457,000 times the hype. Both players have dynamic athleticism. Westbrook has improved his outside shot, but it’s still a work in progress. Wall’s shooting percentage plummeted when SEC teams dared him to shoot from the perimeter.
Even given his improvements, Russell Westbrook would never be anointed as a savior of one of the NBA’s worst franchises. Why then, should Wall be considered the saving grace for the Wizards simply because he is more hyped?
Wall isn’t the only piece the Wizards need. He is the first piece, but perhaps not even the biggest piece. The individual talent of Derrick Rose and Deron Williams, both budding superstars with more polished skills than Wall, hasn’t been nearly enough to propel their respective franchises to the next level.
Becoming a consistent contender takes time, money, and sheer luck.
John Wall isn’t the savior. He is merely the first step in what will be a long journey back to respectability.