ORLANDO — John Wall didn’t need any extra motivation.
The point guard was already sick to his stomach of the losing that’s gone with his Wizards at 7-26 at the season’s midpoint. But getting lost in Ricky Rubio mania earlier this season and more recently Jeremy Lin(sanity) certainly serves as extra reminders that if you’re not careful, folks will forget about you.
Wall figures he’ll get his chance to remind everyone exactly who he is tonight in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, a game where the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft will cede the headliner status to Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin, rookie point guards Kyrie Irving and Rubio and an undrafted member of his own draft class in Lin.
Griffin and all three of those other point guards were among the 11 players that came off the board before Wall in the draft for this game, conducted by TNT analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, who took Wall with the 12th overall pick.
A year and a half into his NBA career and Wall is already being marginalized. What elite competitor wouldn’t be hungry to prove his critics wrong after a snub like that?
“I know what people think but it’s really not just about this one game,” Wall said. “It’s using the second half of the season as motivation to get better for me. And if this game is a statement game for me, and there are supposed to be 11 or 12 guys better than me, then we need to play this game and see.”