Editor's Note, by Mike: Bumped to the FP. Great perspective from a UK fan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Hello everyone, and congrats on winning the draft lotto! As a Kentucky resident and huge UK fan, and as someone who closely follows the NBA without a real rooting interest (no team is close by, so I never latched on to one) I thought this board might enjoy hearing from someone who watched every second John Wall played this season. Some of this you already know, but I bet some of it you don't. Here goes:
1) Athleticism: Wall is an elite athlete, but not in a Lebron/Vince Carter sense. He is stunningly fast with the basketball- really, I've never seen anyone like him in this respect. He can go coast to coast faster than any player I have ever seen, and he can do it under control. He is an impressive, explosive leaper- he gets off the ground quickly, and can easily and effectively receive alley-oops. He is not like Lebron or Carter in that his vertical leap is good but not elite. He's not hitting his head on the backboard. Think Dwyane Wade here- terrific leaper, but not elite. Most impressive part of Wall athletically is the grace and fluidity with which he moves and plays. Great lateral quickness and agility.
2) Jump shot: Much has been made of Wall's jumper, and given that they both attended UK, comparisons to Rajon Rondo pop up. I can tell you with a good deal of confidence that Wall is a better shooter than Rondo. His shot is awkward to a degree- it's a set shot more than a jump shot, which could cause him problems in the league. He hardly elevates at all. Unlike Rondo, however, Wall is happy to shoot, and I think this is why he will ultimately have a respectable jumper. He has confidence in his shot and will take (and make) a jumper with the game on the line. He is a very solid free throw shooter.
3) Passing ability: This is the most underrated part of Wall's game. He is an instinctive and willing passer, likes the spectacular but not in love with it. I have heard various concerns over Wall averaging only 16ppg this year, but the truth is that for all his headlines, Wall truly is a pass-first point guard who doesn't seem to be worried in the least about getting his shots. He will be terrific in this regard in the NBA. He was top-ten in the nation in assists, and I am very confident that he will average 10+ assists per game within 3 years of arriving in the league.
4)Other offense: Wall was able to get to the rim in half-court sets essentially at will in college, although he was not as consistent at finishing as we would have liked. He has a tendency to flip up a difficult shot in traffic rather than going strong and drawing the foul. I think this will be easy to fix in the NBA. Wall struggled at times with running half-court offense and I expect that to continue in the NBA for awhile. He does not excel at reading defenses or getting his team into the correct half-court sets. He is absolutely fantastic on the break. Incredibly fast, instinctive, unselfish- absolutely devastating player on the break, best I've ever seen in college.
5)Defense: Wall was a good defender but clearly was not always focused. He set a season record for steals at UK, so the insticts are there, as is the ability. Focus will be the key, but Wall is a good kid who wants to be a good team player. Ultimately, I expect him to be an excellent defender in the NBA.
6)Rebounding: Ok rebounder for a guard, with the occasional spectular follow dunk. Nothing special in this regard but can help if needed.
7)Intangibles: Hands down, Wall's best attribute. I really can't stress this enough. He is a winner with an absolute sense of the moment. John Wall is not afraid. He relishes the Moment. If you envision a scale of 1-10 with a cold-blooded assassin like Jordan or Kobe a 10 and Vince Carter on the other end as a 1, Wall is about an 8.5 and he's 19 years old. I'm telling Wizards fans now- you are in for a huge treat, and I can't tell you how jealous I am that you'll probably get to root for Wall for the next decade or more. He is good enough to be the best player on a NBA championship team, and there aren't 10 guys in the league for whom that statement is true. He has "IT," that hard to define quality of the best of the best. Be patient with his shooting. Understand he is a great kid- after blasting UK's team GPA for last fall, the media has failed to report that he earned a 3.5 GPA in the SPRING semester, after he had already declared for the draft. We will miss John Wall.