Top NBA Players: #37 John Wall

Feb. 20, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Washington Wizards guard (2) John Wall takes a shot under pressure from Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Wizards 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

John Wall
Resume: 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists (7th in league), 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks, 36.2 minutes, 317 free throws made (7th in league), 402 free throw attempts (8th in league), 42% FG, and 79% FT… Team record in games played: 20-46

You might have noticed by now that my mind works in an interesting way. I like to make comparisons that won’t always make sense to you, even though they will to me. Maybe this upcoming comparison won’t make any sense, but maybe some people will see where I’m coming from and totally understand what I mean. I look at John Wall the same way that I look at Blake Griffin. Aren’t Wall and Griffin both superior athletes who have their specific calling cards; Wall’s breathtaking speed and Griffin’s ability to dunk over anyone? Aren’t they both players still a little raw when it comes to pure basketball skill? Wall still hasn’t quite figured out how to play the point guard position, and he still manages to average 8 assists per game, while Griffin isn’t a totally polished offensive player but still put’s up 20 points and 10 rebounds a night. Aren’t they both by all accounts big-time personalities, who are just as bright off the court as they are on? John Wall created his own dance and then mastered the Dougie like nobody else has been able to. Blake Griffin jumped over a Kia and then made bank by starring in a number of hilarious Kia commercials. The similarity between the two that matters the most for now is the fact that both Wall and Griffin are unfinished talents. In the next month I’ll touch on Griffin, but for now I want to focus on John Wall, who is such a brilliant athletic specimen that it’s probably going to take some time for him to figure out how to maximize that athleticism. The biggest problem I’ve seen with John Wall over the last two years is that his athleticism gets in his own way sometimes.

Watching John Wall is like watching a super hyper little kid. You know the type of kid I’m talking about. The kid who is having so much fun playing with his friends that he gets a little too excited and ends up accidentally making one kid cry because he got a little too excited. He didn’t mean to hurt him and make him cry, but that’s just what happens when you get out of control. Wall is so ridiculously fast, sometimes he actually goes too fast. If you look at the best point guards in the NBA (Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, etc.), they all play at a pace they are comfortable playing at. It’s like they have a switch that they can turn on and off depending on the moment. Either Wall wasn’t constructed with that switch or he just hasn’t been able to find it yet. When Wall can harness the incredible athleticism he’s been blessed with and clean up the turnovers (255, the most in the NBA, which are based on him just going too fast) he has a real chance to be an elite NBA player. Can you imagine when John Wall finds that switch AND develops a jump shot? Good grief! He shot 7% from downtown this year. That isn’t a misprint. John Wall made exactly 3 out of 42 three-point attempts and he’s still one of the best young point guards in the world. Over time, Wall is going to learn how to find a better balance between “athletic freak” and “basketball player.” When he does the league should look out.