Wall improved, but did his Olympic chances?

Wall improved, but did his Olympic chances?
July 23, 2013, 1:30 am
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Just over a year ago, John Wall was where he is now: in Las Vegas, practicing with Team USA.

After a strong season and ubiquitous summer, the point guard's NBA status and Q rating are certainly now at another echelon. Sometime before the close of October's training camp, the Wizards may raise the face of the franchise's contract up several levels.

Whether Wall is truly any closer to playing for Team USA in 2016 is another story.

Granted, this is a minor issue and one that is ways off from resolution, yet a topic back in the discussion for now because of where Wall is and what he's doing.

Those 2012 sessions were in conjunction with the men's Olympic team prepping for their eventual Gold Medal run at the London games. Wall and others served as talented opposition for the likes of Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

These 2013 workouts are about the roster decision-makers having the chance to kick tires on potential future Olympians during this off year for international competition. Though limited due to injury, Bradley Beal is also with the team.

While sincere, the Wizards point guard's inclusion was based largely on potential as he'd yet to show he could truly live up to his No. 1 overall selection status. After a dominant return last year from a knee injury that sidelined him for the opening 33 games, that's no longer the case. That's why the contract extension debate has moved into the lots of years and really big numbers range.

Last season, Wall made noticeable strides as a scorer and shooter, as a leader on and off the floor. While huge for the Wizards as the team ponders inking Wall to a maximum contract extension, it's not necessarily an earth-shattering scenario league-wide. Calling this a golden era for NBA point guards might be a stretch, but it's certainly a deep one at the position.

The Las Vegas mini-camp is lousy with those floor leader types. Point guards joining Wall on the roster include Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Kemba Walker. Oklahoma State rising sophomore Marcus Smart, who would have been a top-5 selection in this year's draft, is also participating.

Even though the Cavs star has not proven he can stay healthy, Irving is the apparent leader of that aforementioned pack and the darling of many a hoops pundit because of offensive skill set. Yet the gap is not by so much that Wall or others cannot overtake him especially if injuries continue to undermine Irving's game. Of course, Coach K knows Irving from their one year together at Duke. Nothing Wall and others can do about that.

Also, this isn't even the current A-list of point guards. Neither Paul nor Williams are in Vegas - not for the camp, anyway. Same goes for 2012 Olympian Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose or Stephen Curry. Those starry players are either recovering from injuries or the season-long grind.

While Wall will be just shy of his 26th birthday when the Rio games take place in August of 2016, Paul and Williams will both be over 30. At least with the Clippers leader, if Paul wants back in, he's in.

Rose might want his chance at gold after missing out in 2012 with a knee injury. Westbrook would only be 27 years old should he seek another gold medal. Seeing as Curry is the game's best shooter, you can bet he's in Rio for 2016 whether he's a deemed a true point guard or not.

Over the next 2-3 years, Wall might join that point guard hierarchy. If in that span the 6-foot-4 speedster plays in the same stat-stuffing manner he closed out last season, join that group he will. Some will tell say Irving is already there. Other point guards, including some not already mentioned (Rajon Rondo, Jeff Teague, George Hill) could conceivably put themselves into the final roster discussion depending on need, health and availability.

Paul, Williams and Rose have signed max deals, though at the high end compared to what Wall can receive (5 years for $80 million) now based on years in the league. Curry (four for $44 million) Lawson (four for $48 million) and Holiday (four for $41 million) inked smaller, but lucrative deals.

None of them was the first overall pick when entering the league, which is another reason why Irving's reps are surely waiting to see what kind of dollars Wall commands.

The Wizards may not be completely up against a wall in these contract talks, but there is not much wiggle room. Not after the franchise invested so much in the point guard, not after literally rolling out the red carpet for him when he arrived in D.C., not with the Lakers ready to spend next offseason.

In other words, even with his significant improvements, Wall's chances of joining the max contract club appear better than joining the max contract players in Rio.

We'll probably know by October about the money situation. No matter how the Olympic scene looks now, let's see where we are leading into the summer of 2016.