Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks

John Wall’s growth stunted by lack of veterans around him

7 Comments

John Wall was everybody’s pick to have a breakout season, so much so that during preseason prediction season it felt like you had to choose someone else and not take the obvious route.

So far the Wizards are 0-4 and Wall has been pedestrian. He’s only shooting 32 percent on the year — not only is his jumper off he’s not finishing at the rim like he used to — and his assist percentages are down as the Wizards offense looks stagnant.

With the Wizards playing the Celtics back-to-back, you can see the veteran influence that having Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce around him have made on Rajon Rondo. The kind of learning that Wall lacks, A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com points out.

The average Celtic is 28.5 years old, while the average Wizards (0-4) player is 25 years old. The gap is even wider when you compare the C’s starters are 32.6 years of age compared to 25.4 for the Wizards.

“Rondo really developed his first three years,” said Wizards coach Flip Saunders. “You hope that John can continue, as far as doing those things….

“Rondo came into a situation with 3 Hall of Fame players,” Saunders said. “(Ray) Allen, (Kevin) Garnett and (Paul) Pierce are all going to be hall of fame players. John didn’t walk into that type of situation. John has more pressure on him.”

Wall’s pressure is that he has to force things and create more offense than Rondo did, Rondo just had to distribute and play smart. He has learned how to do that well and incorporate his own shots into the Celtics offense. Now Rondo is the guy running the show there. He dominated Wall on Sunday, putting up a triple double.

I still expect Wall to get there. But right now, it is tough. He could use some veteran guidance.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

4 Comments

TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

9 Comments

TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

2 Comments

TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
1 Comment

TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: