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What will John Wall's rookie season look like?

It might come as a surprise, but the Wizards/Bullets franchise will have a No. 1 overall pick on its roster for the 13th time in the past 21 seasons. Chris Webber had some success, but the same can't be said for Kwame Brown or Pervis Ellison. Fans aren't worried that the Wizards have picked another Kwame with John Wall.


What will my first year look like? (AP Photo)

They are expecting big things from the kid.

Wall's NBA career will officially begin on national television Thursday, when the Wizards assist the Orlando Magic as it opens the Amway Center.

Blake Griffin, the other rookie No. 1 overall pick, had a monstrous debut for the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night as he finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Griffin became the fifth No. 1 overall pick since 1990 -- the year Wall was born -- to introduce himself to the NBA with a double-double. Derrick Coleman (11 points, 12 rebounds), Shaquille O'Neal (12 points, 18 rebounds), Tim Duncan (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Dwight Howard (12 points, 10 rebounds) are the others.

The previous three No. 1 overall picks -- Derrick Rose, Greg Oden and Andrea Bargnani -- combined to score 13 points in their NBA debuts, so Wall doesn't have to do too much to top them against the Magic. But there is so much anticipation with what Wall will be able to accomplish, with another former No. 1 overall pick Dwight Howard guarding the middle for one of the league's staunchest defensive teams and Gilbert Arenas out because of a strained tendon in his right ankle.

The race for rookie of the year is already on, with Griffin's impressive debut and Philadelphia 76ers second overall pick Evan Turner posting 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a loss to Miami. Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins had 14 points and five rebounds in his first game, a win over Minnesota. Now it's Wall's turn.

I was recently asked by another reporter what the reasonable expectation should be for Wall this season, and I decided to look back at other recent point guards who either won rookie of the year or were in similar situations where the team placed the ball in their hands right away and let them get loose. Wall typically gets annoyed with comparisons to other point guards because he is focused on establishing his own legacy in the league.

But when I think about Wall's skill set and circumstances, the rookie point guards that immediately came to mind were Steve Francis (incredible leaping ability), Allen Iverson (former No. 1 overall pick and face of Wall's shoe company, Reebok), Stephon Marbury (Flip Saunders was also his coach during his rookie year), Chris Paul (blazing speed with the ball, nice kid with a mean streak) and Rose (former No. 1 pick and a John Calipari product).

Based on what those players were able to do and Wall's production in the preseason, I see him averaging about 16.5 points, 7.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds, which is in range of all of those guys. Four of those five point guards won rookie of the year and Marbury was second to Iverson. What do you think you'll see out of Wall?

By Michael Lee  | October 28, 2010; 9:20 AM ET
Categories:  John Wall  
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Comments

Aw, don't knock the hustle, Pervis wasn't EVER nervous...

Posted by: mattsafer | October 28, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

HAPPY WALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: poconnor | October 28, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Based on the last few preseason games, I think he's going to struggle mightily at times and most especially without Gil on the floor. Will be interesting to see just how much he is coached vs given free reign.

Make him a capt, hand him the keys to the franchise, doesnt change the fact he's a 20yr old who has never played a game in the nba. How will other players feel if he's barking out orders when he's the one making mistakes? He's gotta walk a tightrope, been given a HUGE amount of responsibility and pressures.

Dynamic player, will be fun to watch every night and as Wiz fans, that's a blessing

Posted by: divi3 | October 28, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I pray that fellow Wiz fans remember that this is a rebuilding team. Very young and very inexperienced. We are most likely going to get destroyed tonight by a veteran club with Championship aspirations. So please don't be so hard on them as they try to find there way.

I am dedicating this year to watching Wall grow and finding out whether McGee will take a step up.


Posted by: bozomoeman | October 28, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Developing a competitive zeal to win in the NBA and instilling it in his teammates is much more important than his stats.

Let's see how he responds after getting man-handled by Ben Wallace and Dwight Howard. If he takes his game a notch up, that's a good sign.

Posted by: Izman | October 28, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse


Given the inexperience he's surrounded with, Wall will be solid this year, but I don't think he'll be great.

On a different note, tonight's game won't be pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Even in the best of times, the Wizards have struggled in Orlando, so a severe beatdown is not out of the question.

Posted by: gimmedat | October 28, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I notice steals weren't listed for any of the guards in the poll. I have a feeling Wall could be Iverson-like in his ability to pluck passes and rip lazy handles.

Posted by: elfreako | October 28, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I notice steals weren't listed for any of the guards in the poll. I have a feeling Wall could be Iverson-like in his ability to pluck passes and rip lazy handles.

That being said, I like Wall on Vince tonight. His on the ball tenacity, length and athleticism might bother Carter more than Hinrich. Kirk should be able to stay with Nelson in most half court sets.

Posted by: elfreako | October 28, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I expect something similar to Brandon Jennings season last year - 15.5, 3.4, 5.7.

Some early buzz and sportcenter highlights, followed by an eventual tapering off towards the last 1/3 of the season as Wall adjusts to the rigors of the NBA schedule.

Posted by: MStreet1 | October 28, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

elfreako,

i like Wall's defensive intensity and focus, but VC can still be a tough cover. He's one of those guys that will take JWiz checking him as an insult, if for no other reason than the 3 inch 30 lb sixe disparity. VC would definitely try to body Wall in the post, where he would be a load. I like Lester Hudson as much as the next man, but we need The Great Wall on the court as much as possible in the reg season, so we can't have him picking up fouls trying to guard a guy he should never have to guard. While you expect Hinrich to keep up with Nelson in most sets, i'd say that JW can potentially lock Jameer up in most sets. I'd go big if Vince is their 2 and Rashard is their 3. Hinrich could still rock the 2 where he might actually struggle less than he would covering Nelson (hinrich's speed and quix could stay with VC better than Nelson IMHO and his physical style of D and rep as that type of defender will help in the post and with the refs). But i might try Yi at the 3 on Rashard, he took a step back after the steroid year.I think Yi can keep up with him. It should be a great game .

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 28, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think Walls scoring will be around 18 per game and his assist around six. I like the Francis numbers just for the scoring alone.

One thing for sure though is that is overall success and development will be much easier if Gilbert is playing with him.

Also, his ROY chances will be better if the Team itself is an acceptable success which brings us back to Gilbert again.

A lot depends on Gilbert. Sorry Gilbert haters.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 28, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Also, his ROY chances will be better if the Team itself is an acceptable success which brings us back to Gilbert again.

A lot depends on Gilbert. Sorry Gilbert haters.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 28, 2010 11:36 AM

I think the tail-end of the preseason showed how much the Wiz miss Gil's shooting and ability to see the floor and make plays for other people down the stretch. Although he'll likely never be a playmaker like Arenas, Nick Young could really help ease the scoring burden during Gil's absence.

We all know Nick could come out tonight and drop 30 pts on somebody's head or get 3 points and look like he's in a thick fog. Neither result would surprise most of us.

Posted by: gimmedat | October 28, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

lilhollywood10

Good points by you.

My main reason behind the Wall on Vince idea is that it may limit the amount of touches for Dwight Howard. If Carter takes that matchup personally then perhaps he resorts back to being a black hole and ignores the big fella down low. I think Wall's 6'9" wingspan could really surprise Vince and create some turnovers that will frustrate him.

Remember Wall's advantage is that there isn't a 'player' scouting report on him yet only a scout's take who doesn't have to guard him.

I agree with Hinrich's versatility guarding either guard spot. Obviously, Flip is going to have to be creative because the Magic have 3 guys (Carter, Redick and Pietrus) with good size and shooting ability.

Posted by: elfreako | October 28, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

i like Wall's defensive intensity and focus, but VC can still be a tough cover. He's one of those guys that will take JWiz checking him as an insult, if for no other reason than the 3 inch 30 lb sixe disparity. VC would definitely try to body Wall in the post, where he would be a load.

VC might take it as a challenge since Wall is the flavor of the month, but I don't think he'd take it as an insult. Meanwhile, if the Magic want to put the game in the hands of VC in the post, I'd call that a strategic victory for the Wiz.

Plus, all it would take is VC getting his pocket picked a few times by the rook to have him fade back into the guy who just parks himself behind the three point line.

But really the defense on Nelson, or whoever is running the point at a given moment, is the more important part for the Wiz, whether you put Hinrich on it or Wall. They don't have a lot of other playmakers, so tough D on Nelson, etc, makes it much harder for them to get into their offense.

That and the Wiz have to hit the boards hard as a team.

Between Howard, Gortat, Bass, etc, I think the Magic are too strong inside, but it will be interesting to see how the Wiz compete.

Posted by: ts35 | October 28, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse


Wall will average about 17 pts, 7 asts, 4 rebs, 3.5 TOs in his rookie season and will finish second to Griffin for ROY (the Griffin kid is a beast).

Looking forward to tonight's game though. I think our Wiz kids might just spoil the Magic's houswarming party. Flip just needs to convince our bigs to challenge Howard when he's on D. If we can get him in foul trouble, the game becomes much more manageable. If they settle for jumpers, however, it might be a long, long night.

Posted by: artiesliver | October 28, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

If VC is their 2, I would like to see KH more aggressive on offense tonight. Obviously he isnt Gil, but with such a big guy on him we can get dribble penetration out of both guard spots.

Would LOVE to see Javale play with a 'tude, ready to battle even if leads to some quick fouls. Take it right to DHoward just to set the tone on his season, no more skinny kid getting pushed around (even tho he will get pushed around).

Posted by: divi3 | October 28, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Also Brandon Bass is 6'8", he can't check AB. Make them pay.

It's a bit much to expect this crew to play like a team right out of the box, so obviously could be a beatdown game, but I would like to see some individual brightspots.

Posted by: divi3 | October 28, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Bass may be 6' 8", but he's strong, quick, has ups, and likes putting a body on people. He routinely plays bigger than his height, while Blatche tends to play smaller. After the first few hard knocks, I wouldn't be surprised to see Blatche avoid the paint and start settling for jumpers.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 28, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Also, his ROY chances will be better if the Team itself is an acceptable success . . ."

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 28, 2010 11:36 AM

Not really. The system is weighted so that the best talent is drafted by the worst teams, so ROY voting rarely correlates to team success, because the most likely candidates are almost always on crappy teams.

Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evens put up comparable numbers last season, but Evans won the award, despite playing on a 25-win team, while Jennings was on a playoff team.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 28, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards best chance at a win is if Orlando is so focused on Friday's matchup with Miami that they look past the Wiz.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 28, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Bass may be 6' 8", but he's strong, quick, has ups, and likes putting a body on people. He routinely plays bigger than his height, while Blatche tends to play smaller. After the first few hard knocks, I wouldn't be surprised to see Blatche avoid the paint and start settling for jumpers.

Blatche dropped 32 points on Bass last season (Bass played 30mins). Shot chart shows him scoring inside and out, 14-23 shooting with 7 buckets in the paint. That's with Bass and the defensive MVP on the floor mind you.

Scoring on Brandon Bass is never going to be a problem for Blatche (unless he just has a terrible night, quite possible given the broken foot), the issue will be on the boards where he tends to give up and/or play soft.

Posted by: divi3 | October 28, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Also Brandon Bass is 6'8", he can't check AB. Make them pay.

Posted by: divi3

Guys like Bass are able to push AB farther out on the floor, where he ends up shooting predominantly jumpers. If he can fight for position down low, he can definitely shoot over Bass, but he better bring his lunch pail. Plus, they can rotate a variety of big, strong guys on him to keep him working all game long, and we know his conditioning isn't quite where it needs to be yet. He can have success, no question, but he's going to have to work all night long.

Posted by: ts35 | October 28, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

It's not a recipe for success: a young team with a number of veteran NBA players who still aren't 100% going into the season. Howard's out, Blatche is coming off a serious injury, Thornton has missed games already and Gilbert is...anyway, that leaves us Hinrich, McGee, Yi, Nick Young, four rookies and a couple D-leaguers.

Looked at that way, we really shouldn't be talking about playoff berths. I plan to just sit back and enjoy the damn game.

I guess I see another lottery pick in our immediate future.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 28, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Guys like Bass are able to push AB farther out on the floor, where he ends up shooting predominantly jumpers.

I'm 100% ok with jumpers.....as long as they are within 15'

Posted by: divi3 | October 28, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

What an upgrade we have at the 4. Jamison is coming off the bench in Cleveland and they don't have as much talent as the Wiz. He should have been on the pine before leaving here, we'll make the post season!!!

Posted by: Gooddad | October 28, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Guys like Bass are able to push AB farther out on the floor, where he ends up shooting predominantly jumpers.

I'm 100% ok with jumpers.....as long as they are within 15'

Posted by: divi3

That would be the 'pushing him farther out on the floor' part.

Chuck Hayes (a similar smaller, but physical player) did a similar thing to him on Mar 9 of last year. AB went 9-22 and took 11 of 22 shots from outside of 15ft. 15 of 22 from outside of 10 ft.

When they met again on Mar 30, AB was able to adjust and get a bit closer, but most of his shots were still from 10ft and out.

Point being, jumpers from AB are great, when he's hitting, just like with anyone. If he's not.......

On the other hand, if he's working closer to the basket, he's a little less subject to the vagaries of his mid-range jumper. And he's putting more pressure on the defense.

Posted by: ts35 | October 28, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Good luck to the WIZARDS tonight.Out hustle the MAGIC.

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 28, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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