Chris Webber says Wall will "fall in love" with D.C.
Once the Wizards make their pick at this month's draft, whomever they select -- presumably John Wall -- will become the fourth No. 1 overall pick to play for the franchise over the past two decades. None of the previous tours were unqualified successes.
Pervis Ellison (No. 1 overall in 1989) spent four years with the Bullets, twice leading the team in rebounding and averaging 20 points a game in '91-92. But the team never won more than 30 games during Ellison's tenure.
The first season he left, Chris Webber (No. 1 overall in 1993) arrived. Like Ellison, Webber spent four seasons in D.C. Like Ellison, he put up strong individual numbers (15.7 ppg and 8.0 rpg for Webber, 13.9 ppg and 8.4 rpg for Ellison). Unlike Ellison, Webber got his team into the postseason. The team went from 21 to 39 to 44 wins in Webber's first three years, and was widely identified as one of the NBA's franchises to watch. But Webber left town without a playoff victory, and his best years were spent elsewhere.
Then came three years without a top overall pick, before the Wizards won the lottery and selected Kwame Brown. Like his predecessors, Brown spent four years in D.C., averaging just 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Then comes the next guy, presumably the first guard selected first overall to play for the franchise since John Lucas made a brief appearance in the early '80s. Webber, now an analyst with NBA TV, was on a conference call to preview the NBA Finals this week, so I asked him about being a top overall pick in the Washington market.
"I think D.C. has some of the best fans, and I used to love playing there," Webber said. "I think that you embrace the fans, and the fans will embrace him. I would tell [Wall] to enjoy it, because that place gets loud. We played over in Landover, and that is still one of the loudest arenas that I've ever been in.
"I think the city is going to embrace him. Hopefully the team will have veterans around him. I think it's very important to have older players that were in the system, but to also put veterans around [Wall]. I think it worked very well with Derrick Rose to have Lindsey Hunter in Chicago. I can't explain to you how much I think a veteran can help [a younger player's] game preparation and body preparation.
"I think as long as a team puts great veterans around him, someone that they can ask about getting through the rough days and rough moments, I think he'll be fine. But I know he'll be happy, and when he gets that first standing ovation when he's introduced, I think he'll fall in love with the D.C. community."
It will also mean the Bullets/Wizards will have a No. 1 overall pick in their rotation for the 13th time in 21 seasons.
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