The Washington Wizards have been on the clock for almost a month now and the suspense over who gets to be the latest young phenom to come to the nation’s capital will end in just a few short weeks. Will it be John Wall, the highly-touted freshman point guard out of Kentucky? Or will it be Evan Turner, the versatile reigning NCAA Player of the Year? Here’s the breakdown:
John Wall, PG, Kentucky
The Numbers: 6’4, 196. Averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists a game in his lone year at Kentucky.
Why Washington Should Draft Him: Wall is a game-changer on both ends of the court. On offense, he possesses an insanely quick first step and his ability to penetrate and finish is equal to, if not better than, former John Calipari disciple and NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose. From Day 1, Wall will be among the fastest guards in the NBA and his ability to go coast-to-coast is phenomenal. Wall has great length and is a freakish athlete, which will make him one of the better rebounding point men in the game. On defense, his quick hands will make him one of the NBA’s top thieves. Wall averaged 1.8 steals per game at Kentucky. He’s cocky and confident, but not in arrogant sort of way, and his swagger inspires the guys around him. Wall’s presence would allow Gilbert Arenas to move to his more natural position (shooting guard….no pun intended), assuming the Wizards decide to keep Agent Zero. Wall will be 20 by the start of next season, which means his best years are ahead of him and, coming off a solid tournament run, his star power will drive ticket sales for a team with a dwindling attendance record over the last couple seasons.
The Knock: Much like Rose, Wall isn’t a great shooter. That may actually be a good thing for Washington, as it has been a rare sight during the Arenas Era to watch a point guard not try to launch one from deep within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. Still, Wall’s jumper needs some work. He also has a tendency to be a bit careless with the basketball. He averaged four turnovers a game at Kentucky and his thrill for the dramatic may cause coach Flip Saunders to want to reel his young guard in. While Wall doesn’t have the same maturity issues that most kids his age possess, there is always a risk of putting the keys to the franchise in the hands not even able to drink legally yet.
Evan Turner, G/F, Ohio State
The Numbers: 6’7, 214. 20.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 6 apg.
Why Washington Should Draft Him: Turner can play anywhere from small forward to point guard in the NBA. He’s a Brandon Roy/Scottie Pippen-type point forward(though he doesn’t have Scottie’s muscle). Like Wall, Turner is an excellent finisher and ball-handler. Unlike Wall, Turner is solid shooter, especially from mid-range. He has great creativity both off the dribble and when attacking the rim. Turner has a ridiculous 7′ wingspan, which led to him averaging nearly 10 rebounds per game for the Buckeyes. He’s two years older than Wall and, having played three years at Ohio State, he has a bit more seasoning and experience than his younger counterpart. Turner’s a solid defender, although he doesn’t have the lockdown potential that Wall has, and his long arms and versatility would allow him to guard the NBA’s best 1s, 2s, and 3s.
The Knock: Well, there’s the issue of Turner breaking his back last season. Yes, Turner came back and played well enough to win the Naismith, but ask anyone who watched Larry Johnson(the former Hornets/Knicks forward, not the Chiefs running back) late in his career. You don’t ever fully recover from a bad back. Like Wall, Turner gets a bit careless with the ball, as he becomes enamored with making the highlight reel. Turner, also, averaged four turnovers in his final season of college ball. He’s a bit skinny as well, so physical guards and forwards will eat him up until he’s able to put on some more muscle. He doesn’t have Wall’s outer-worldly athleticism, which isn’t always a negative but certainly lessens his potential in comparison to Wall’s. The Wizards could play Turner at the point and still move Arenas to the two, which would be ideal for both Arenas and the team. However, Turner may be better suited to play the two, and maybe even the three if he bulks up, which means the Wizards would have their best ball-handler as the off-guard and a gunner(again, no pun intended) running the point.
The Pick: John Wall – I said this in my first Wizards blog. The first step to the Wizards rising from the cellar starts with drafting Wall. His play-making ability and his potential to dominate at both ends of the court is just too good to pass up. Wall’s lack of shooting touch doesn’t help a team that doesn’t have a consistent pure shooter, but Wall can eventually grow into an above average marksman through practice and repetition. Turner’s versatility would give the Wiz a lot of options but taking a guy with a pre-existing injury, as seen with fellow Buckeye Greg Oden, is always risky when picking at the top of the Draft. The Wizards should take Wall and then try to find him a sidekick, either through the draft or in exchange for Arenas.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.