Tide Changing On Wizards’ Wall


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Poll anyone about Washington Wizards point guard John Wall these days and you are guaranteed to get more pro-Wall reaction than not. Had you polled those same people 10 months ago, the reaction would have been upside down.

Injury and uneven play led many to wonder if the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft was destined for anything more than solid numbers (17 points, 8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals through his first three seasons) on lousy Wizards teams.

Attitudes and perceptions about Wall have changed dramatically in the past five months. He’s no longer dangling in talented young star purgatory, that no-man’s land for players working through their rookie contract without anyone knowing exactly how to project where said player might be headed next (see Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks).

Wall’s career could be headed in a much different direction now that the Wizards and Wall’s agent, Dan Fegan, have reportedly begun discussions about an extension of his rookie deal. The sides have until Oct. 30 to agree on a deal and what Wall is worth, to speak in crude terms, is yet to be determined (interested observers are already taking sides in D.C.)

But there is a strong body of evidence that suggests the price will be high, and perhaps rightfully so for a mercurial talent who is just now realizing his potential.

The first 33 games of last season, in which the Wizards went 5-28 while Wall recovered from a knee injury, gave everyone a glimpse of what life might be like without the prized point guard around. The Wizards were a lost cause in his absence, devoid of any star power or direction at the most critical position on the floor.

The 49 games Wall played in after returning from that injury were a revelation. The Wizards went 24-19 before dropping their final six games of the season. And Wall was a virtual showstopper most nights, averaging 18.5 ppg, 7.6 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 spg while impacting the game on both ends of the floor in ways we hadn’t seen from him thus far.

With fellow young talents Bradley Beal and rookie Otto Porter Jr., as well as a seasoned cast of veterans surrounding them, the Wizards are poised to finally make a break from their lottery ways and move into the playoff pack in the East. But they only make that move with a healthy, motivated and secure Wall leading the charge.

He’s become the linchpin to the Wizards’ future, just as you would expect a former No. 1 overall pick to do be at this stage of his career. That said, Wall is not the sure thing that say Derrick Rose was when he was three years into his ascent in Chicago. And if there is anything hanging over Wall at this point, it’s whether he’s ready to serve as team leader both on and off the court.

If you are Wizards’ boss Ernie Grunfeld, you’re betting that he is ready. You are betting that the show Wall put on in his last 49 games was just the beginning. You are betting that the Wall, who showed up for that courtside interview with NBA TV during the Las Vegas Summer League, is prepared for a truly breakout season.

Grunfeld’s future could very well depend on all of that being the case, on Wall joining that party-crashing group of young point guards led by Steph Curry, Jrue Holiday and Kyrie Irving. That group is are ready to muscle their way into the elite group led by Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and others.

The talent is there for the youngsters. None of the guys already on the elite points guard list is more physically imposing than the 6-foot-4, 200-plus pound Wall. Sure, others are much more polished, skilled and certainly more seasoned. But as far as raw growth potential and skill, Irving and Wall head that list.

Wall is aiming for the top of that elite list, of course, which is exactly what you want from a player in his position at this stage of the game!


  1. Dan the Man says:

    The Wiz have the young talent to be contenders for the next 5 years. The Lakers, once Kobe leaves, will be rebuilding during those 5. Plus, there’s not huge pressure on Wall in DC. The last true superstar to lead the Wiz to success (sorry, Michael) was the Big E, so Wall can make his own era w/o having to live up to anybody else.

  2. Rhedz says:

    Wall is an awesome player, together with beal…but this 2 alone cant shoulder the whole team. They need good role players and support cast. Prolly 2 more years and we can include them in the elite list.

  3. J says:

    stay that’s what he NEEDS to do the wizards are getting better

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  5. Kimmy says:

    I like the Wall/Beal combo. Go Wizards!!!

  6. Edward says:

    Suns should go after wall

  7. h says:

    Wall is good he should go to a team that NEEDS a good point guard like Detroit, Miami, or any other team ( CANT THINK OF ANY OTHER TEAM)

  8. Jim Booie says:

    Wall would be the perfect 3rd piece for the Rockets next year. They could sign and trade lin and omar for wall if they dont move them this year.

  9. snub says:

    he’s good but lets face it he will never be elite just an above average point guard who is athletic no where near kyrie irving status…kyrie might be mvp candidate in the next two years

  10. josey says:

    Hes good! But he’s the only player on the wiz that opposition worries about

    • Stefan says:

      Which makes his stats even more impressive, why would you therefore say ‘but’ when going on to improve ur argeement

  11. rvman says:

    wall = pretty darn good… still not elite like d rose, tony parker or cp3… give him some time and talent around him he can be.. as of now, in my opinion kyrie irving is still a little better

  12. bunbury says:

    I like him. If (yes IF) he improves his jump shot he can be better than Irving or the rest of them for that matter. he should sign for the Lakers. by the way, Deron Williams and Lillard were not mentioned, elite and upcoming (respectively).

  13. Canadian Cavs Fan says:

    “The Wizards went 24-19 before dropping their final six games of the season.” Why even print the 24-19 part? He makes it seem as if those 6 straight losses don’t count, but they did. I get what he’s saying overall, but the fact is, they were still a sub .500 team with Wall.

    • justsayin says:

      The fact is they were a sub .160 team without him.

      Reading comprehension – look into it.

      • James says:

        I was wondering the same thing and it took these comments to draw out the extra info about Beal. Add the words …’ in the absence of Beal’ to the story and it makes a lot more sense why the stats are being presented in that manner.

    • Keon R. says:

      The reason he said that is because the Wizards played the last 6 games without Beal. Wall and Beal together make the Wizards a slightly above .500 team.

    • rutger says:

      in the east that would have meant a playoff spot.
      not bad imho.

    • Wizboy says:

      I’d like to point out they did not have a healthy Beal with that roster that lost 6 straight. I also think Webster was out and Nene missed 1 or 2 of those 6.

    • Derek says:

      Same reason you just did. By saying “they were still a sub .500 team”, it is misleading considering they were 24-25 vs. the 5-28 without him. By saying what you did, you made it sound as if there wasn’t much of an improvement with or without him, which is not true.

      You did the exact same thing in different context without even realizing it.

  14. kobe jr says:

    john wall is the best pg from kentucky besidesrondo

    • Peso says:

      True…Brandon Knight is decent and will improve, I was mad & happy at the same damn time when Kyrie broke them ankles LOL

      remember Wayne Turner? he was the man at Kentucky and was on SI like 2 times in college back when a lot of players wasn’t doing that. In todays social media world that isn’t nothing I’m sure but late 90’s it was…

  15. TTKIN says:

    I’d say Tyreke Evans is a better example to compare than Brandon Jennings.

    Brandon didnt get on anyone’s radar until he became a pro. He’s already better than many anticipated he ever would be. Whereas Evans was supposed to be a star and has declined every year since.

  16. two says:

    If they don’t lock him up long term the lakers will throw the max at him in 2014.