John Wall wins the world's most one-sided sprint (Garrett Ellwood/ Getty).
At various times this season, we've noted that Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, once thought to be a franchise savior, hasn't exactly developed as hoped. His turnover rate is higher than ever, and his shooting percentages are lower than ever. While the Wizards are moving closer to relevance, they can't become a truly good team unless Wall turns into a star.
It's as yet unclear exactly why Wall hasn't progressed, but there are plenty of possibilities: no help from the supporting class, the shortened season, etc. Wall, for his part, thinks he could have spent less time playing in charity games during the lockout. From a video interview with Wizards.com, as transcribed by Mike Prada at Bullets Forever (via PBT):
QUESTION: Did you feel like you were at a disadvantage this year? Nobody had a summer, nobody had much of a training camp, but for a younger player, that would seem to be pretty important.
ANSWER: No ... I didn't think I had a disadvantage. I just think that, instead of working out more, I did more of playing in charity events and summer leagues, when I should have been working out more. That's the only thing I think I should have done differently, but it was a great experience going to different states and venues.
This issue came up earlier in the season, back when Flip Saunders was still Wizards coach and looking for any reason to hold on to his job. Saunders claimed that Wall picked up bad habits, which seems like a specious argument given that a few hours of defense-less basketball don't turn professionals into guys better suited for the old AND1 tours. Kevin Durant played in plenty of charity games and summer leagues and looks no worse for it.
Wall's reasoning makes much more sense, because he talks about having played in charity games rather than working out instead of in addition to working out. The problem wasn't that Wall played in charity games, but that it's the bulk of what he did; there was too little seriousness to balance the fun. The charity games that populated the lockout were great events, but it's hard to imagine that someone like Durant saw them as a substitute for spending many hours in the gym. They were just a little extra.
The good news for the Wizards and their fans is that Wall seems to have identified the issue. Theoretically, that means he'll commit to the hard work necessary to improve. Then again, we probably won't find that out until we see him next season. Ultimately, any amount of work a player puts in during the summer doesn't matter until games start back up again.
- Washington Wizards