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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

John Wall back to work after brief visit at Kentucky

By Michael Lee

John Wall was at shoot-around on Wednesday after returning to Rupp Arena the night before for Kentucky's win over rival Tennessee. Wall flew to Lexington after practice on Tuesday, sat courtside at the game, and formed the honorary "Y" in Kentucky's cheer. He offered words of encouragement and hung out with the Wildcats in the locker room after the game.

Give me love. (Getty Images)

"It was a great feeling, felt like home," Wall told reporters after the game. "It's tough watching. I wish I was out there, but I reached my dream and I'm happy for these young guys to seem to do good."

He then hopped on a private jet and made it back home late Tuesday night.

Kentucky Coach John Calipari said that Wall still follows Kentucky games and offers tips to the players. "I talk to them as mostly throughout the season, as much as possible," Wall told reporters. "I know they are busy and I have a busy schedule. Whenever they need advice or need me to tell them something, I'll tell them about it. If I can't watch it, I record it. I watch DVR a lot."

Wall also talked about his rookie season with the Wizards. "It's alright," he said. "I've had a couple of injuries in the beginning. I'm really getting use to just trying to win, you know, understand how to become a better leader and win close games. It's tough, but it'll get better. It's a learning experience."

Coach Flip Saunders didn't have a problem with Wall's short getaway to his school. "He's got his people or whatever," Saunders said. "Big game, as long as he's here, it's the main thing."

When asked how he was able to attend a Kentucky game and show up on time for practice the next morning, Wall said, "I'm smooth."

By Michael Lee  | February 9, 2011; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  John Wall  
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Next: Open thread: Wizards (13-37) vs. Bucks (20-30)


Don't know how many of you can see's a nice read though. If I need to I'll paste it.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 9, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

You need to paste it, please.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse


JWoww versus Rose and Rondo:

The No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, John Wall is averaging a not-too-shabby 14.8 points and 9.1 assists.

John Wall might not win NBA Rookie of the Year as many expected, thanks to the emergence of Blake Griffin, but he is showing All-Star potential. If he continues to develop, that should make for some interesting debates in the next decade in a conference that already has two elite point guards -- Boston's Rajon Rondo and Chicago's Derrick Rose. In fact, he's been compared to Rose quite often, in part because of the similar ways they reached the league, and, like Rondo, he's a former Kentucky Wildcat with great speed, passing ability and defensive talent.

So let's compare and contrast: How does Wall match up with Rondo and Rose now? Can he surpass them? And when will he join them in the All-Star Game?

Let's break it down category by category:

One of the most exciting aspects of the NBA right now is the talent at the point guard position. No position in the league features the combination of skill and elite athleticism more than the current crop of point guards. It would be fun to see a version of "Superstars" featuring Rondo, Wall and Rose (and OKC's Russell Westbrook). They're all such special athletes, I'm not sure who would win.

Rondo appears to be the quickest in tight spaces and laterally; Rose is the quickest with the ball; and Wall is the fastest in a sprint with or without the ball, I'd guess. (Westbrook is the most explosive vertically -- he is helped by extra long arms in making the most plays above the rim.) But it's not as if any of these guys is less than great in all of those areas.

Rose is also the most powerful of the group, a big help on his forays to the hoop (and perhaps a reason he takes fewer free throws than expected -- it's so hard to impede his progress). Wall is the weakest, in part because he's the youngest, but he should have no issues adding strength in the next few years.

Overall, Wall stands even with Rose and Rondo in athleticism, but I don't project him to pass either guy anytime soon. Rose is just 22 years old, and Rondo turns 25 this month.

Of course, basketball is not football or track, where sheer athleticism is king. It's a skill game, and the absence of skill in any area can give defenses a huge advantage when guarding great athletes, as Wall is finding out.

Posted by: prescrunk | February 9, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

In November, John Wall displayed a bevy of bright spots: overwhelming speed, an above-average ability to finish in the paint, a great awareness and willingness to share the ball, and the ability to dictate some games with his defense.

But he also showed a major weakness: a below-average jump shot. And he's paying the price for that now.

Wall is still finishing at a good rate inside, connecting on 58.3 percent of his attempts at the rim, but he's making just 28 percent of his shots from 10-23 feet, a mark lower than almost every other point guard in the NBA.

He's actually shooting better from behind the 3-point arc (30 percent), but that is not who Wall is right now. His first instinct is to attack. But defenders have learned to give Wall space, inviting him to shoot, and too often that's what he's choosing. As a result, Wall ranks as one of the worst-shooting point guards in the NBA; his 48.6 true shooting percentage is 49th among point guards and outside the top 100 among all guards.

His lack of a midrange game hurts him even more in the last few seconds of the shot clock, when he's forced to shoot jumpers to beat the buzzer. With three seconds or less on the shot clock, Wall has an effective field goal percentage (which factors in 3s) of 17.6 percent, an extremely low number. Compare that with the numbers for Derrick Rose (48.8 percent) and a non-shooter such as Rajon Rondo (44.9 percent) and it's clear how much work Wall has to do in this area.

But neither Rose, Rondo nor Russell Westbrook came into the league as a shooter, yet all three rose to greater heights in their second seasons. So even though his shots might not be falling now, there's hope for Wall.

Wall's lack of shooting ability causes him to commit turnovers (overpenetration is the typical problem because he lacks the confidence to stop and pop from midrange) and lose scoring opportunities simply because he makes so few shots (see sidebar). He's shooting 27 percent from 16-23 feet.

But Rose should give him some hope because, even though Rose was a better shooter than Wall as a rookie, he has improved each year and is now a legit threat to make any shot up to 25 feet. Rondo, too, showed an improved midrange shot in his second season (from 27 percent his rookie season to 43 percent in Year 2) and is making 44 percent from the 16-23 range this season.

At the free throw line and the 3-point line, Rose also has improved, using better form and much better balance. Rondo, however, has struggled. His huge hands are troublesome, which is normally a problem for centers.

Wall's shot needs tweaking, not a major overhaul, and I'd expect him to be shooting 35 percent from 3 and 80 percent from the line two years from now. A player with his speed and quickness doesn't need to be a great shooter; just good will do.

Posted by: prescrunk | February 9, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

As the primary ball handlers and passers, these three men must be able to handle the ball when pressured by one or two players, while also executing plays under the pressures of time and score.

Both Rondo and Rose have a better handle on things than Wall -- they're tighter, crisper and more under control with the ball. As playoff veterans now, they also know how to focus on every possession -- something we can expect Wall to improve on toward the end of the season. Lately, however, it seems he is losing focus for a possession or two each game (he literally loses the ball while dribbling with no defender near him).

It will take some offseason work to catch Rondo and Rose in this category. Wall's length and size (Rondo and Rose have lower centers of gravity than Wall) also make it just a tad harder for him to maneuver around people while dribbling, but his ability to accelerate by his second step can make up for that.

Changing speeds
One area Wall needs a lot of work in -- an area Rondo has mastered and Rose has improved in -- is using mixed speeds to throw off defenders. Rondo is a genius at zooming to the rim after he gets a defensive rebound with a defender in hot pursuit of getting a block from behind. At the last second, though, Rondo decelerates and lets his defender pass him, messing up the shot-blocker's timing before easily laying in the ball.

It's a move that can work in the half court, as well, one that Wall hasn't shown. Consequently, defenders can time up Wall's attacks and make a play on his shot, blocking or contesting it.

Slowing down also allows for an extra second to read the defense and give a teammate more time to get open. Adding this to his game would make Wall a much tougher guy to defend.

As a passer, Rondo has few peers. He sees everything and plays the game with the mindset that he's the last scoring option on most possessions. On a team like the Celtics, it's sound strategy.

Rose, like Wall, needs to score to best help his team. But, unlike Wall and Rondo, Rose doesn't have the natural vision and anticipation to see plays develop in his head before they appear on the court. Which is fine because he's such a brilliant scorer (and he still has a better than 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio).

Wall sees the game like a veteran, similar to Rondo, and normally chooses to make plays for teammates before himself despite a lack of talent around him on many occasions. If he played on a team such as Boston, I wouldn't be surprised if he led the league in assists.

Posted by: prescrunk | February 9, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

As rookies go, Wall ranks high on the defensive side of the ball, mostly thanks to his combination of length and speed, along with his desire to make plays on defense. Like Rondo, he creates chaos and has the tools to become a defensive stopper in time.

Rondo also got tutoring from one of the game's top defensive minds (Tom Thibodeau), so he is savvy in strategy as well as physically capable of making big-time defensive plays. Rose is getting the same coaching, though he's not likely to ever be the defensive force Wall and Rondo are. Both players are longer (Wall's standing reach was three inches longer than Rose's coming out of college, a huge advantage in contesting shooters), and their wiry builds help them slip around and through screens.

Rose had little interest in defending as a rookie and is much better now, but many people still consider him a liability on that end. Wall has the potential to be on the All-Defensive Team in a few years, where he surely will compete with Rondo, who was named to the first team last season.

A common thread for all three is their competitive drive, though Rose is more muted in this aspect. These guys have an edge about them when they play that helps inspire their teammates to play at a higher level. Rose has a swagger on offense that the others don't, simply because he has carried the scoring load for his team countless times in big games. That can be an inspiration, too, and it doesn't require animated reactions to get the job done. Getting buckets is enough.

I don't see Wall ever being the prolific scorer Rose is, but he'll score enough and make enough plays to hold the reins of his team. Like Rondo, he's a joy to play with in that teammates who work and hustle will be rewarded with sharp passes. Plus, he's not afraid to defend great players in key moments.

So … about the All-Star Game?
With Rondo and Rose seemingly cemented on the East squad for years to come, when will Wall break through and earn his first trip?

Well, just check out the West. Chris Paul and Deron Williams are just as locked into that squad, yet Westbrook broke through in his third season, getting named as a reserve guard this year. The same thing can happen for Wall in the East.

Considering Ray Allen's age, it wouldn't be a shock to see Wall earn a reserve guard spot as early as next season. Joe Johnson still has some good years left, but beating him out is a possibility, as well.

And I think Wall will be competing with Rose and Rondo for the starting slot in two years, maybe even next year. He's an easy player to love, someone who forces you to watch him when he's in the game and a guy who is clearly willing to work on his game and get better every year.

Yes, two seasons from now, he'll be right there in the mix for best point guard in the East.

-David Thorpe

Posted by: prescrunk | February 9, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Keep McGEE, ARMSTRONG, SERAPHIN, N'DIAYE, LEWIS, HOWARD, BOOKER, YOUNG, HINRICH, WALL, and SHAKUR [for this season at least]. Lose BLATCHE next off-season in a trade for an up and coming three along with JIANLIAN, and THORNTON this season for a young five to help McGEE.

Next year's team by position will look like this, or there will be reprisals:

@ the five:

????? by trade 2011 [JIANLIAN, THORNTON]

@ the four


@ the four/three


@ the three

???? by trade summer 2011 [BLATCHE]

@ the two

MARTIN/2nd round pick

@ the two/one


@ the one


Posted by: glawrence007 | February 9, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

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