John Wall: People see me as a No. 1 pick who hasn’t done anything

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Professional athletes love to talk about all the people who don’t believe in them, even if everyone believes in them.

Some get creative. Throughout his NBA career, Michael Jordan referenced a high school coach cutting him. That was because nobody really doubted Jordan during his time at North Carolina and with the Chicago Bulls.

But most athletes don’t get as deep as Jordan. They just imagine the haters or embellish the voices of a small minority of Twitter followers.

However, when John Wall says people don’t properly recognize his accomplishments, I actually think he has a point.

Wall, via Chris Miller of CSN Washington:

I think they still still see me as a skinny kid from Kentucky that got drafted No. 1, that hasn’t done nothing or proven nothing in this league. I think just making this first All-Star Game still doesn’t get me a nod.

I think I respect the coaches and those guys that give me the the credit for seeing I worked on my game and I’m getting better.

But until I make it to the playoffs and win a series and keep improving, I haven’t done nothing in this league

Wall, despite having the most-honored rookie year in his draft class, got off on the wrong foot for a No. 1 pick. The two No. 1 picks preceding him (Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose) and one proceeding him (Kyrie Irving) won Rookie of the Year.

Why didn’t Wall win the award? Griffin was injured and missed what would have been his first season, delaying his rookie season a year. Had Griffin not got hurt, Tyreke Evans – not Wall – would have been without a Rookie of the Year trophy, and Wall would have immediately been recognized as a budding star.

I’m not sure Wall – in perception – has ever recovered from the absence of that award on his resume.

Wall, who’s still just 23, has gotten better each season of his career. Yet, he’s still criticized for stagnating – most notably with his jumper. But Wall has made 37.1 percent of his shots between 16 and 24 feet this season. That’s better than Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson and Jarrett Jack.

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Wall’s All-Star appearance should change the narrative a bit, but he knows what it will really take: winning.

Asked about his greatest accomplishment so far, Wall said getting above .500. That was a real and justified moment of pride for the Wizards, who hadn’t even momentarily possessed a winning record in years. But for the best accomplishment of a career, it’s just sad.

Wall is on the right track – improving as a player and leading his team to its best record in years. The Wizards should make the playoffs, and as long as they get a top-six seed, they’ll have a coin-flip chance of winning their first-round series.

That would drastically improve the perception of Wall, at least temporarily. Then soon enough, people will be asking why the max-contract player hasn’t won a championship, and the cycle will begin anew.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?

 

 

 

Pelicans’ Tony Allen out 3-4 weeks with fibula fracture

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The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.

Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.

Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.

Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.

Watch Kawhi Leonard chop boards ‘karate styyyle’ (video)

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Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.

He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.

But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.

Except we now know he apparently likes karate.

Leonard:

Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.

If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.

Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Kevin Durant brings fan to tears with autographed shoes (video)

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Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.

Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.