Second-year prospect John Wall had a shaky rookie season thanks to a lingering injury. Nevertheless, fans anticipated a breakout year for him and the Washington Wizards this season based on how he and his cronies finished last year’s campaign. Instead, onlookers have been greeted with a string of disappointing performances from Wall and the gang.
Basketball is a team sport and it’s better to have a few pieces or a well tuned unit to grow around versus one spark plug amongst a bunch of duds. So, with that in mind, check what Wall has to work with and see if it draws any inspiration for a brighter future.
Yeah, about that…
The Wiz have a subpar roster but they shouldn’t be as lackluster as their current form. Wall ought to be the key to unlocking everyone’s potential as the team’s best player, playmaker and leader. He’s made lemonade out of lemons last season by raking in tons of dimes and scoring opportunities with some of the players mentioned. Yet the strenuous, rapid-fire games ahead may make chemistry a rare commodity for such a disconnected bunch.
Seeing a star prospect on a destitute squads isn’t new. However, there has been a surge of downtrodden franchises making strides with young athletes leading the charge. OKC’s the easy example but let’s dig deeper. T’wolves are 3-7 but three losses came with a combined differential of nine points against top squads like Oklahoma City and Miami. Results aside, they’re a more cohesive unit than years passed. A slimmer Kevin Love’s been at the forefront, Rubio’s put in work off the bench and now things don’t look so dreary in Minneapolis. Indiana’s poised to turn heads with Danny Granger, Darren Collinson, Roy Hibbert and latest veteran addition David West working well together. Lob City’s adamant towards ending the Clips’s playoff drought via Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan. Plus, I bet AJ’s teaming with joy over his Kyrie Irving-era Cavs playing relatively well.
There’s more at work here than whippersnappers playing inspired ball just because. Minnesota’s, LA’s, Cleveland’s and Indiana’s coaching staffs deserve praise for pointing their teams in the right direction. Flip Saunders and co. look straight bush league in comparison. What’s worse is Washington put Saunders on mute for a spell resulting in the disjointed basketball we’ve seen from them. Also Cleveland’s the most comparable team talent-wise to Washington yet they’re playing far better each night. Evidently, Wall’s early years likely forebode an uphill climb until a mix of draft picks, key trades, a straight up culture change or a new coach puts things in DC’s favor.
John’s not off the hook though. We picked him as one of our 12 talents to watch and there have been glimmers of hope between him and Crawford. yet he’s been inconsistent during Washington’s bleak stretch and his jumper hasn’t arrived. Is this a case of a slump, something every athlete goes through, or the potential for something worse? The idea suggests players always give their best no matter what but we all know that doesn’t happen across the board. There are a few exceptions like KG and Ray Allen in their younger days on lackluster Timberwolves and Bucks/Sonics clubs. Yet, this will be a long year for the Wiz if these early games are any indication. A stream of L’s could snowball to more uninspired play for who knows how long if Wall’s the type to succumb to the status quo.
One has to wonder if John Wall can embrace adversity and help push Washington as another young, reinvigorated club. He’d have to be the impact player who makes everyone else overachieve not to mention get a better supporting cast. Matters out of his control have also contributed to his team’s poor run. Either way it’s one thing to average X amount of assists and another to actually lead a squad to victory. John’s abilities as a floor general will definitely be put to the test in this abridged campaign. Things aren’t looking good but let’s see if last night’s win against the Raptors helps turn things around.