One glance at the ProBasketballTalk.com headline - "Seven players who need to answer doubters, have big years" - and I immediately knew the poster child for such a list.
Brushed away for now because of a knee strain that kept him out of preseason and likely sideliend until Thanksgiving, the subtext of any Wizards hopes in 2012-13 centered on Wall's play entering his third season. Not so much does he have the talent or can he be productive - last season Wall was one of three players who averaged 16 points and 8 assists - but how high is that level. In some ways, passes have been given for wildness - Wall averaged the second most turnovers per game last season - and because of the knucklehead factor on the roster. Those guys are now gone and early returns suggest this roster is a competitive one.
Anyway, enough out of me. PBT's Kurt Helin, the floor is yours...
1) John Wall (Washington Wizards): When the Wizards drafted Wall No. 1 overall they thought they were getting a franchise anchor, a guy you can build a contender around. But it hasn’t been that way — he was solid as a rookie and good in his sophomore campaign — he scored 16.3 points per game and added 8 assists per contest — but his game hasn’t developed like it needed to. The big issue is he has no jump shot you have to respect— he took 4.4 shots a game from 16 feet out to the arc last season and hit 29 percent of them. He’s not a real threat from three. You go under the pick on him.
Next summer Wall can get an extension to his rookie contract and the Wizards will have to decide what to do.
Wall is going to miss the first month of the season (until around Thanksgiving) due to a stress fracture in his patella. That will give the Wizards pause come next summer. When Wall does return he needs to show he can both play fast and under control, show he has a jump shot opponents have to respect, and show that he can lead. The time for excuses is over — the Wizards have cleaned up the locker room culture and brought in veteran professionals like Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. It’s on Wall now to show what he can do.
Hi, me again...The Nene's and the Emeka Okafor's and even the Bradley Beal's can do their thing. Washington needs its other core of young players including Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker to keep improving. However, if the Wizards are to become more than just a team fighting for a playoff berth, but one contending some day with the league's heavyweights, it will be because John Wall's game rises to elite status. It can happen, no doubt. Once healthy, let's see if the speedy one makes that move this season.