John Wall carries so much expectation with him. Drafted out of the John Calipari school of top picks and elected to save the Wizads, Wall has every set of abilities you could want in a point guard. Except he hasn’t put those abilities consistently together yet. He plays too breakneck to the rim, he hasn’t been able to drag the rest of the knuckleheads on his team to efficiency, if such a thing were possible, and he’s struggled to make significant improvements. His assist rate is down, his turnovers are up, and hasn’t made a significant leap in any area (though his PER is significantly up). So he hasn’t been playing great. Oh, yeah, and in a related story, his team is downright awful.
As a result, he plummeted this week when Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal divied up the top rookies and sophomores for the Rising Stars challenge. And Wall is not happy about it. From the Washington Post:
“It’s a joke to me,” said Wall, who is averaging 16.9 points and 7.5 assists in his second season. “If they think there are 11 guys better than me, then that’s their decision. But I know what I think in my mind and all I can do is go out there and play basketball the way I know how to play.”
via John Wall on being 12th pick for Rising Star Challenge: “It’s a joke to me” – Wizards Insider – The Washington Post.
“I’m not upset, just let me tell you how much I do not respect this decision and how wrong it is. But again, don’t care.”
Wall did go low. But this wasn’t a serious process. There’s nothing riding on this game and most of the process is about star power. Right now, Wall’s star power is very low. He’s a much better player than Jeremy Lin, but Jeremy Lin is immensely popular right now and so was picked higher.
But you know what? Wall needed something like this. He’s gotten so much positive reinforcement over the past two years, he needs something as motivation. Now if he could just motivate his front office into moving Andray Blatche and getting some actual helpful offensive firepower around him, he might be getting somewhere. We’ll see how Wall responds to the slight.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.
Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.
Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):
This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.
Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.
He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.
Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.
So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency
Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.
There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.
Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.