It is no secret that the Washington Wizards organization isn’t the most enviable of the NBA. At times it seems as if the inconsistency and incompetence demonstrated by the front office trickles down to the players. The Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton incident, a long string of losses, and a group of perceived "knuckle-headed" players have cast a cloud over the franchise and attracted negative connotations, much to the chagrin of fans.
The one saving grace, if you will, is the Wizards’ first round pick of the 2009 draft, John Wall. Wall has long been known for his elite athleticism and speed with the ball. The Wizards selected Wall as the first pick in the 2009 draft in an effort to usher in a much-needed new era, and frankly, because he was arguably the most talented player in the draft (some argue DeMarcus Cousins was).
Up until Wall’s rookie season in the NBA, he had been surrounded with some of the best talent at his playing level. Wall was teammates with the likes of CJ Leslie (NC State), Dezmine Wells (Xavier), and Bishop Daniels (University of Miami) at Word of God Christian Academy. He traveled the nation with AAU teammates such as JT Terrell (USC), Quincy Miller (Baylor), Quddus "Deuce" Bello (Baylor), Bishop Daniels, and Ryan Kelly (Duke). Then, in college, Wall was the leader of the highly talented Kentucky Wildcats who boasted players such as Demarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, and DeAndre Liggins, all of whom are in the NBA.
So, judging by the caliber and success of Wall’s past teammates, it is clear that it has been tough to bear the losses while having to lead a dysfunctional team at the same time.
The level of frustration took its toll on Wall earlier in the season, as he struggled out of the gate.
His play fared no better than his mood, as he shot 41% from the field, 11% from the three-point line, and turned the ball over 3 times a game in January.
Wall tried to keep a level head as he remembered the advice he received from Kevin Durant, which had to make the Wizards happy.
"I asked KD (Kevin Durant) the same thing - how did he deal with his two years when he was struggling."One thing is, you just come in early and be the last one to leave the gym, just be a leader that way and make sure you're working on your game and getting better every day. The time will come that things will change around," Wall said.
I myself am not used to seeing John Wall struggle, largely because he dominated in the latter part of his high school playing days and at the University of Kentucky. In the past (even now) Wall blew by defenders and finished with highlight reel dunks. In transition, he was a blur as he used his speed and handle to get to the cup with ease. Even elite level competition had trouble containing Wall. However, at the NBA level, Wall’s lack of a pick-and-roll game, bad shooting, and poor half court game have caused problems, despite him posting pretty solid numbers thus far in his career. The crop of teammates that has been assembled around John Wall has not done any favors to him either.
The greatest fear of the Washington Wizards’ Owner, Ted Leonsis, has to be losing John Wall if thing don’t turn around, especially in this star driven league. Despite Wall’s "humble and hungry" approach to the game and life, he detests losing, and may bolt in search of a winning situation.
The clock is ticking in Washington, and John Wall’s plea will begin to grow louder and louder if the situation doesn’t improve.
(Quotes and Photo from the Associated Press)
*Now, I will say this, I neither am a fan of the Washington Wizards nor an avid spectator of their games. However, I have followed John Wall’s career from his high-school days to the present.*