The first time John Wall came around a high pick in the NBA — just seconds into the opening game against Orlando Thursday — he had plenty of room.
Jameer Nelson had gone under the pick. Way under. We’re going to dare you to take that uncontested jumper under. So Wall did — and he missed.
Welcome to the NBA, Wall. You’re going to be good, but your mama warned you this wasn’t going to be easy.
Wall was given the outside shot — called the “Rajon Rondo treatment” — all night long. Wall finished with 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting. But if you take away the five times he got to the rim for a dunk or a layup out of the equation, he was 2-of-14 shooting. And when he did want to drive there was Dwight Howard waiting for him in the paint.
This was not a fair fight. Washington is a young and just thrown together team that had to take on a title contender with a lot of veterans that can hit the ground running.
Wall also had a team that seemed disinterested or intimidated (take your pick). The Wizards did not get out and run their way to easy baskets, their defense was lethargic. At best.
Wall, to his credit, kept scrapping. But this was a splash of cold water on the face of the Wizards and Wall, a reminder that despite all the hope and hype they are a long, long, long way from where they want to be.
You’re not in Kentucky anymore.