By Rob Mahoney
In the last year we've seen a strange, tangible shift in the public estimation of John Wall's game and future. The word "bust" has already been uttered by some, but take note: He's a 22-year-old guard with just 150 NBA games under his belt and career averages of 16.1 points and eight assists per 36 minutes. We're not just getting ahead of ourselves with those kinds of proclamations, but foolishly ignoring all of the evidence to date that Wall can be a productive and dynamic player.
The vision, the athleticism and the defensive potential are all still there. Wall is still developing and these things take time, but so few seem willing to give the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft the benefit of the doubt on his climb toward stardom.
But plays like this one from the Wizards' victory over the Knicks on Wednesday should do well to jog the memory of Wall's newfound skeptics. The sequence begins with a huge block on Carmelo Anthony, whom Wall had picked up on a switch. In a flash, a sure score for the Knicks turns into a fast break for the Wizards, with Wall outrunning virtually every player on the court in going from baseline to bucket.
Yet it's the ease -- and the crispness -- of his spin that really stands out here. Wall attacks a clever, open-court defender in Jason Kidd with a straight-line drive, and then pivots away from Kidd's play-disrupting mitts in a blink. That he does so without even the slightest hint of a travel (plenty of NBA ball-handlers are guilty of actually lifting their pivot on that spin) is even more astounding, and a greater testament to Wall's coordination. He gathers, he finishes and he makes it all look so damn easy.
Bail on Wall now if that's your wont, but I think I'll stick around and enjoy the show.Michael Katz