John Wall promises improvements

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John Wall showed some serious flashes of brilliance over the course of his rookie campaign. Even though he was hampered by injuries for most of the year, Wall established himself as having one of the quickest first steps in the league, some of the best top-end speed in the league, and brilliant passing ability. However, he did show some glaring weaknesses, notably his turnover ratio and abysmal jump shot. According to the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, Wall plans on improving both of those weaknesses in the off-season:

Wall is optimistic that the Wizards will find the right pieces this offseason, but he has big plans for his team and himself. “Next year, I just want to be in the playoffs,” Wall said. “Everything I didn’t do good this year, you’re going to see me get better at next season, making jump shots, being more confident, less turnovers. But studying a lot, being a better defender, all those things. That’s the same thing Derrick said, ‘I want to be MVP.’ It might not happen next year, but at least by my third year, I want to be in the race.”

If Wall can fix his jump shot, he’ll quickly become one of the most unstoppable players in the league, but he has a lot of work to do. Wall seemed confident going to his pull-up jump shot all season long, but that confidence was mostly unfounded. Wall had an eFG% of only 34.2% on jump shots last season, which is absolutely horrible — Rajon Rondo shot 38.2% on jump shots.

Wall isn’t the first talented rookie who came into the league with a broken jump shot. LeBron shot 35.6% on jumpers his rookie season, and Dwyane Wade shot only 37.1%. Chris Paul only shot 42% on jumpers his rookie year, and he’s now one of the best jump shooters in the league. Heck, Kevin Durant only shot 39.7% on jumpers his rookie season. (These are all eFG% numbers, by the way, and courtesy of 82games.com.)

We know that Wall has a very bad jump shot. We also know that great players have come into the league with bad jump shots before, and have often improved them. Whether Wall makes those improvements or not will be the question for his development as a potential All-NBA player going forward.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.