Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks

Stan Van Gundy says John Wall not good enough for Wizards to build around


The Wizards are unquestionably the worst team in the league this season. At a record of just 4-25, Washington has four fewer wins than the Bobcats team that just finished up an 18-game losing streak.

Things are not only dismal in Washington, but few see any sign that the franchise has even begun to put the pieces in place to begin the long climb to legitimacy.

Go ahead and count Stan Van Gundy among the non-believers.

Appearing on ESPN 980’s The Sports Reporters last week (via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post), Van Gundy was clear in his assessment — not only does he not see a fit with the current players on the Wizards roster, but he also doesn’t believe that John Wall, whom the team selected with the number one overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, is good enough to build around as a franchise player.

“You know, I don’t see it, to be honest,” Van Gundy said. “I’d love to tell you you’re two years away; I really don’t [see it]. That roster doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I know they’ll be better when John Wall comes back. He’s certainly got talent, but I don’t know that even John Wall is a great player to build your franchise around. I don’t know WHO you’re building around, so it’s tough to even think about what the construction of your team is. That’s just a bad basketball team.”

“I think maybe they thought it was gonna be John Wall – maybe they still think it is. I think there’s a lot of people in the league – I’d certainly be one that would share this opinion – I don’t think John Wall’s good enough to be the guy that you build around. I think he’s got great speed and quickness, but point guard is a decision-making position. That’s what makes you great as a point guard, is your decision-making. I haven’t seen any indication that John Wall is a great decision-maker.”

Not exactly what you want to hear if you’re a Wizards fan.

Wall has yet to play a game this season due to injury, so kicking a guy when he’s down doesn’t necessarily feel all that great here. But he didn’t show marked improvement a season ago, finishing with averages that were either right at or a hair below those of his rookie campaign in nearly every statistical category.

We don’t know if Wall will turn into that cornerstone player once he gets healthy, and it’ll take even longer to evaluate Jan Vesely and Bradley Beal, the team’s two lottery picks that followed. Time will tell, but the start to this season hasn’t been all that encouraging.

With that in mind, the fact that one of the more respected former coaches in the game isn’t a fan of the combination of young talent that’s been compiled so far shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Kristaps Porzingis grew up a Kobe fan. Still is one.


When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.

So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.

Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.

“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”

There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.

In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.

There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.

(Hat tip NBA reddit)

Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton’s car stolen

Luke Walton

If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.

Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports NBCBayArea.com.

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.

Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.

Yikes. That’s serious.

I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.

Pacers guard George Hill returns Tuesday against Wizards

Paul George, Marcus Morris
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.

Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.

Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.

Hassan Whiteside on intentional fouls: “It’s not working, so keep fouling me”

Hassan Whiteside

Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.

Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.

And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”

He’s even smart at not getting fouled.

Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.

“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”

Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.

And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.