When Wall entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010-2011 Draft, some believed he may become one of the best point guards to ever play the game. Yes, the hype was that strong.
And why not? He had incredible athleticism, size, played defense and displayed the ability to find teammates.
In his second game ever as a Wizard, he quickly showed promise with 28 points and nine assists in a losing effort against the Atlanta Hawks. In his third game, he had 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals in an overtime victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. In his sixth game as a pro, Wall added a triple-double to his fast-growing resume with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, one turnover and six steals – joining Magic Johnson as the only rookie ever to post a triple-double with six steals in his first six games.
Unfortunately, Wall sustained a sprained foot soon after – an injury he came back too early from. According to him, favoring his foot forced him to a different injury (bruised knee), which bothered him for the duration of his rookie season.
Then came the second season, when Wall was poised to become a breakout star. With the troublesome Gilbert Arenas out of the picture, Wall’s abilities were supposed to be on full display. Instead, the guard showed some glaring holes in his game: the inability to play at different speeds and the lack of an outside touch. He was too inefficient to be a difference maker, and the season was quickly lost when the team – featuring the biggest clown combination in JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche – lost 20 of it’s first 24 games.
And now we are in the present, where Wall has returned over the past 18 games after missing more than the first two months of the season with an unexpected stress injury in his leg. The results have been drastically positive since his return: the team is 10-8 with Wall in the lineup, 5-28 with him out of the lineup.
Still, it has mostly been a tumultuous career thus far for Wall, who expected to become a superstar in the NBA. He still has plenty of time to develop into the player he hopes to become, but many are already starting to write off the guard’s ability to carry a franchise. Stan Van Gundy was the first to say so publicly, and agent David Falk decided to join the party in a big way on Thursday, from Mike Wise of Washington Post:
“You guys are in dreamland. Because this team [stinks] so bad you guys want John Wall to be someone he will never be. “Before Wall becomes Nene, I would trade him and get rid of him.” Come on, really? “I’m serious. He doesn’t have a feel for the game,” Falk said. “He only knows how to play one speed. Magic Johnson had a great feel, a court sense, by the time he was a sophomore in college. Chris Paul had it by the time he was a sophomore in high school. “You can develop your jump shot all you want, but if you don’t know how to play more than an up-and-down game by the time you’re about 20 as a point guard, the chances of learning are very slim. I don’t see it happening.”
“Let me ask you a question,” Falk said, maybe 28 times over 30 minutes, often answering for you. “Who’s bigger, Kyrie Irving or John Wall? John Wall. Who’s a better athlete? John Wall. Who’s faster? Who’s stronger? John Wall. “Now, who’s a better player? Kyrie Irving,” he said of Cleveland’s all-star point guard who was rookie of the year in 2012. “John Wall will never be good as Kyrie Irving was in his first week in the NBA. “You want to know the reason why just nine teams have won an NBA title in 40 years? Because if both of them came out today, 99 percent of all general managers would still take John Wall instead of Kyrie Irving. They’d take the athlete over the ballplayer. And they’d be wrong.”
Perhaps realizing the disrespect and the unnecessary amount of hostility put into his thoughts, Falk quickly apologized for what he said about Wall, as well as the Wizards franchise, from Matt Bonesteel of Washington Post:
“Sunday evening, I engaged in a friendly banter with Mike Wise about a column he wad written. Our discussion was repartee, two fans going at it about a variety of different topics. My decision to knowingly allow this discussion to be aired publicly was a mistake. It reflected poor professional judgment. Therefore, I want to publicly apologize to both Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld for publicly expressing opinions that better judgment should have kept private. I also want to publicly apologize to John Wall. I hope he either ignores my comments completely or tacks them up on his locker and uses them as motivation.”
Falk can apologize, but he still opened up a can of worms and said things he can never take back. He may be right about the type of player Wall could ultimately become, but both he and Stan Van Gundy are probably jumping to conclusions way too soon. Perhaps the criticism is warranted due to the point guard’s inability to live anywhere near the hype that followed him into the league, but it’s easy to forget that Wall is still only 22 years of age. Whether he can correct some of his fundamental issues remains to be seen, but he is still a gifted talent with plenty of time on his side to right the ship. Simply put, the ceiling of Wall is still largely unknown and remains to be seen.
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