John Wall, LeBron James

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


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.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.