I’ve been operating under the impression that John Wall is a nice
player, but not a special one, not a kid who makes you think your ship
has come in because you just won the NBA draft lottery. I thought that
winning the right to draft Kentucky’s Wall was like winning $500 in the
lottery, not the Super Duper Mega Lottery where you never have to work
again a day in your life.
I was convinced, in fact, the Washington Wizards, the franchise with the worst luck in the history of professional sports in America, would win the lottery Tuesday night because there was no college player to lose your mind over. No Magic Johnson, no Hakeem Olajuwon, no David Robinson or Patrick Ewing, no Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, no LeBron James … not even a Yao Ming or James Worthy. I was thinking that this, 2010, simply wasn’t the time to get all worked up over winning the lottery if Wall was the Guy.
And then somebody who knows more about basketball than anybody of his generation shook some sense into me. Magic himself, sensing I was undervaluing what had just happened for the Wizards, said: "No, no, no, no! The Wizards have got to take John Wall. They must take this kid.
"When he’s got the ball in his hands, he causes excitement. You can always get an Evan Turner. He’s a very, very good player. But there will be an Evan Turner in next year’s draft. The game has changed. … There are no more huge big men you have to stop, no back-to-the-basket guys. The big guys are all shooting fadeaways and playing 15 feet from the basket.
"More than ever you have to start with a really good point guard. Look at what Utah does with Deron Williams, New Orleans with Chris Paul, Chicago with Derrick Rose, Oklahoma City with Russell Westbrook. … Look at how Rajon Rondo has come along with Boston.
"John Wall’s got a little special in him. You can’t pass on him. Look at Atlanta; they passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams and are still trying to recover from that mistake. The last two rookies of the year [Rose and Tyreke Evans] are point guards. Wall has that same type of ability, lived up to the same level of hype as Rose did in college. You do it at Kentucky, you’re playing on the biggest stage in college basketball every night, against top competition every night. You know what Wall does now as well as anybody in the league? Gets it off the glass and goes. I mean, right now he does that as well as anybody in the league."