Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated has a brief blurb in this week's magazine on the Washington Wizards and John Wall's relative lack of development this season. I say "relative" because if you look at the relevant measurables, Wall has actually improved this season. It just hasn't been the kind of dramatic improvement we were sold on getting when we saw Wall dominate the summer pickup scene.
It's an interesting short piece. I imagine most of you will be concerned by an unnamed assistant coach saying he doesn't think Wall works as hard as he used to work at Kentucky. I don't know if that's true, personally. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't want to completely discredit the point, but I am also a bit reluctant to take the word of an opposing coach at face value, because they aren't with Wall on a day-to-day basis.
To me, the most interesting thing is what the NBA scout says.
The book on him is that if you can stay in front of him, you can contain him. "He relies too much on his speed," says a scout. "If he could go behind a pick and make a jump shot, how could you stop him? He would be better than Tony Parker."
The scout is right: Wall's lack of a jump short hurts him tremendously. But here, I have two responses. One, we knew this was going to be an issue coming out of school. The book on Wall is that he had every tool but the jump shot. Now, we're seeing what not having a reliable jumper means for Wall's game. It affects everything.
But I am also a bit amused that the scout used Tony Parker as an example. Parker is a respected shooter ... in 2012, in his 11th year in the league. Parker was certainly not a respected shooter early in his career. In 2002-03, his second year in the league, Parker shot 34.2 percent from 10-15 feet, 36 percent from 16-23 feet and 32.4 percent from three-point range. The next year, those numbers were 42.1 perent, 36.8 percent and 32.6 percent, respectively. That's on wide-open shots too, because teams didn't respect the shot. He's shooting similar percentages now, but defenses are actually keying in on the shot more because Parker has improved to the point where he is viewed as more of a threat. That development took years for Parker to make.
Wall may be even further behind Parker in his development, to be fair, but Parker's story provides a reminder that you can't just snap a finger and turn a bad jump-shooter into a good one. It takes time and practice to make it happen. It's starting to happen for Wall, but there's still a ways to go.
At the same time, like anything you practice for so many hours, it'll click eventually if you work hard enough. If Wall is indeed putting in the work -- all I am privy to are his pregame shooting routines with Sam Cassell, but I'm sure he's doing more -- it should eventually come together. Once it does, Wall's entire game will start to open up and this angst about his lack of improvement will become a thing of the past.