Former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy became the latest to rip the Washington Wizards and John Wall. In an interview on ESPN 980 earlier this week, Van Gundy declared that he doesn't think Wall will ever be good enough to lead a franchise. Dan Steinberg has the transcript:
"You know, I don't know," Van Gundy admitted. "I don't know if it's a trade, a free-agent thing, but I do know this: you build a team around certain people, and then you find complimentary parts. There's been no one to even build around there. There's certainly nobody on that roster now you can build around.
"I think maybe they thought it was gonna be John Wall - maybe they still think it is. I think there's a lot of people in the league - I'd certainly be one that would share this opinion - I don't think John Wall's good enough to be the guy that you build around. I think he's got great speed and quickness, but point guard is a decision-making position. That's what makes you great as a point guard, is your decision-making. I haven't seen any indication that John Wall is a great decision-maker."
It's hard to argue with Van Gundy's assessment right now considering Wall's own struggles last year. As a decision-maker, he definitely has improvements to make. He's definitely not in Kyrie Irving's class in the pick and roll, and Irving was drafted a year after him. Wall's inability to hit perimeter shots kills him here.
But this is also an indictment on the supporting casts that have been put around him. Point guards don't make decisions in a vacuum. They need space to see the floor. They need supporting players that amplify their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Without those things, any young point guard will struggle to develop proper decision-making skills. You aren't just born with a high basketball IQ. It needs to be cultivated with the right surrounding mix.
In Wall's case, one would think that spacing and perimeter shooting would be the best way to amplify his quickness and minimize his poor shooting. Instead, the Wizards have consistently surrounded Wall with a weird mix of talent without an identity. Wall had by far the most assists to corner three-point shooters last season; why haven't the Wizards signed an elite corner three-point shooter? (They traded their best one in Nick Young and let their second-best, Roger Mason, go in free agency). Wall likes to run and find shooters spotting up; why haven't the Wizards studied which players hit the most transition threes and pursued them in free agency? (Marco Belinelli is starring for Chicago; he'd have been a nice, cheap addition). Why haven't the Wizards tried to find a stretch 4 instead of hoping their big men can hit enough mid-range jumpers to get by? Why are they running a post-heavy and baseline-screen offensive system when Wall is a poor off-ball player?
These are all questions that make you wonder. Sure, it'd be nice if Wall could star with any supporting cast, but you'd think Wizards management would do more to find pieces that actually help their so-called franchise player's development.