RTC NBA Draft Profiles: John WallPosted by rtmsf on June 16th, 2010
Player Name: John Wall
Height/Weight: 6’4, 196
NBA Position: Point Guard
Projected Draft Range: 1st overall pick
Overview: John Wall has been listed as the first overall pick for the 2010 Draft at mock drafts since he started his senior year of high school. His year at Kentucky merely served to further cement that lofty ranking. Gifted at slashing to the basket, taking contact, and still getting a shot away, he also possesses a court vision and an ability to distribute the basketball that just isn’t seen that often in the college game anymore, let alone in a freshman. Pundits have been very careful when predicting what type of professional player he will be, and that’s understandable, since we’ve heard such hyperbole so often in the past. But here, indeed, is a rare talent to say the least. Let’s be honest, how many players (especially freshmen) are legitimately good enough to borrow a dance from a music video and make it their own? For the record, we hope he does the dance one final time on draft night, then retires it forever, or at least finds another one. But boogie or no boogie, John Wall’s going to be a hit in Washington. He’ll immediately put fans in the Verizon Center seats, and then he’ll make those fans jump out of them.
Will Translate to the NBA: John Wall has gears most college players don’t possess. He can blow by defenders with either hand and still make a perfect pass or get off a good shot, all at that breakneck pace. He’s going to take more and harder contact in the league, but he’s fantastic at absorbing it and getting the and-one opportunity. In a body that’s still actually maturing, he’s still a ridiculous pure athlete, and even though that athleticism will be diluted a little in the pro ranks, he’s light years ahead of the curve in that respect for this stage in his career.
Needs Work: Even with such speed, for the most part, Wall made good decisions with the ball at Kentucky. He occasionally tried to make what John Calipari called “the high school play,” meaning a pass or a move that would work in high school but would result in a turnover when he tried it against the superior college athletes. It would only be worse in the NBA, especially because he tended to do this more in half-court sets. He showed some improvement in this respect as the season progressed, but he needs to totally eradicate that from his game. He’ll need to develop his jumper, too, but the combination of the fact that he’s coachable plus his awareness that he still has room to improve means that he’ll eventually be fine in that regard.
Comparison Players: One comparison we haven’t heard much is to another Kentucky point guard who left early, Rajon Rondo. Both are slashing players who prefer to score by attacking the rim, but are just as comfortable setting up teammates. Both are incredibly quick and use their long limbs to pick pockets and be disruptive on defense. Both players constantly sacrifice their bodies and still find ways to score. He’s also similar to another Calipari product in Derrick Rose, an athletic, slashing scorer whose jumper left a little to be desired upon entering the league.
Best Case Scenario: There’s no limit as to how far John Wall can go in the NBA. John Wall will make multiple trips to the All-Star game and be an elite player for several years, assuming good health and some polishing of that jump shot. Even if his numbers aren’t what people think they’ll be in the first season, his personality and marketability alone will make him popular in the capital. Barring a total meltdown or a complete change in personality, you will see Wall’s game improve each year even though the Wizards will rely on him heavily. The first person who will tell you that he needs to improve is Wall himself, and if that self-awareness sticks, with his work ethic, there’s no telling what kind of history he can make. His best-case scenario is that he’s one of the top two or three point guards in the league for as long as he’s in it.
2013 Projection: He’ll be one of the elite guards in the league, unquestionably an All-Star. How he does with the Wizards — and likely the playoff hopes of the team — will depend on how he gets along in the backcourt with Gilbert Arenas. Wall will have no problem getting Agent Zero clean looks — and more of them — so we think they’ll work together just fine.
Best NBA Fit: Because he’s all but a lock to go first to the Wizards, that’s the only team we even need to examine. Wall makes those around him better, and his supporting cast isn’t THAT bad, with Arenas, Josh Howard, and Andray Blatche to work with. After that it drops off to guys like Randy Foye, Mike Miller and Al Thornton. Wall is an amicable fellow, but has no problems leading by word or by letting his skills on the court speak for him. He’s said to be a good teammate off the court by his Kentucky mates as well, and while we predict no personality clashes here, even if any arise, we think they’ll fade away when his fellow Wizards find themselves getting more touches and find their scoring averages up by a couple of points. It will be interesting to see how Wall handles the pressure of being one of the Wizards’ most important draft picks ever, and make no mistake, that pressure is real. We all know about the off-court distractions the Wizards brought on themselves last year, and we all know that winning can make such things disappear. Wall will be expected to make Washington a winner, and fast — or at least better than 26-56. But he thrived in the pressure-cooking fishbowl of playing at Kentucky, which means he can probably endure it anywhere.