Teammates, coach shower Wall with praise

Teammates, coach shower Wall with praise
December 6, 2013, 11:30 am
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NBA analyst Greg Anthony would be "shocked" if Wizards don't make playoffs

Washington Wizards guard John Wall points to the bench against the Detroit Pistons in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Detroit won 113-102.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

There's a heavy load on John Wall that comes with the max extension of $80 million he signed going into this fourth season. If the Wizards continue to fail to meet expectations, nothing short of the playoffs in the eyes of owner Ted Leonsis, then it will be his fault. All of it.  

So it's only fitting that he's getting all the praise. 

Coach Randy Wittman on winning seven of the last nine games going into Friday vs. the Milwaukee Bucks: “It starts with John, obviously. He’s our leader with the ball, both from an offensive standpoint and defensively. He’s the head of our defense. His play speaks for itself."

Martell Webster on his three-point shooting, along with Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal, all of whom rank top 10 in the NBA in catch-in-shoot points: "Because of (Wall). Plain and simple. We don't create those shots off the dribble. Those are from John penetrating."

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Al Harrington, a 16-year veteran in his first season in Washington: "John has matured by leaps and bounds. He's obviously a big key to our success just how mature he is and how he just leads by example not just talk about it. Three weeks ago, I noticed one day I came in and the ball was bouncing. I'm in here pretty early and it was him in there shooting."

Back to Webster: "John is able to attack and get guys to sink in (the lane defensively) and he's finding perimeter guys. The fact now that he's hitting that mid-range jump shot is big. That's a game-changer right here. We need him to continue to do that. He knows when to pass the ball. He's a smart point guard. He continues to get his teammates involved. That's why we're winning games.

"For any young player that's coming up that's in the same position as John, max contracts have never been given with no responsibility. You have to take on responsibility, even if it's not your fault. That's just how it's going to fall. That's just how the chips are played. When you walk into a certain situation like that you're going to be held accountable for all your team's actions. The coach and the superstar player are going to be taking the brunt of the criticism. It's just how you respond. ... You're not just going to get all the positive criticism. Everybody's looking for, 'Oh, what he did wrong. Oh, this is his fault.' The best way to respond to that is to come back out in the next game with a win. It shuts all the criticism up."

Now Wall has to keep this up for 64 more games, get an All-Star invite in-between, and the evolution will be complete. And replicate it each year through 2019.