Where will John Wall fit in?

Frank Hughes

Barring some unforeseen cir*****stance, it appears Kentucky freshman
point guard John Wall will become the NBA’s next No. 1 draft pick.

But Wall will be entering the NBA a season after many of the 12 point guards taken in the first round of the 2009 draft have already made an impact. Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry are the top players in the class, and Ty Lawson, Jonny Flynn and Darren Collison, among others, are also getting high marks.

Combine that with a look at the projected lottery teams, and, with a few exceptions, a personnel shuffling will be needed no matter where Wall goes.

"You are getting a very valuable asset," one NBA executive said of Wall. "So regardless of what happens, you are going to come out ahead. Either you keep Wall and trade your existing point guard, or you keep what you have and you fill in your roster with what you can get by trading Wall."

Sure, a team could do that. But since the draft lottery began in 1985, only twice has a team traded away the top pick. (Cleveland chose Brad Daugherty No. 1 in 1986 after acquiring the pick from Philadelphia for Roy Hinson and cash. In 1993, the Magic selected Chris Webber first, then immediately traded him to the Warriors for Anfernee Hardaway and three future first-rounders.)

Holding the top pick in the draft brings an emotional attachment, for both the organization and its fans. For teams whose previous season was bad enough to land them in the lottery, the draft is their hope for the future. Their selections do not always turn out to be the saviors they had hoped for, but the draft is nonetheless a transformative moment, when the thought of acquiring one talented player is enough to rejuvenate a team’s outlook and eventual climb back to respectability. (Think LeBron James.) Besides, the last thing a fan wants to hear is that a team is acquiring an asset that can be used to obtain other assets.

In Wall’s situation, however, there likely will have to be some sort of maneuvering by the team that drafts him in order to make things work.


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