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Wall of Fire

Posted By Dave Leonardis On Jul 14 2010 @ 8:29 pm In Washington Wizards | 1 Comment

You may or may not have heard that the Washington Wizards selected some highly-touted kid out of Kentucky with the first overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft to be their point guard of the future and the face of their franchise. Well, #1 overall pick John Wall laced them up this week  against the pros(or, at least some lesser known pros) in Summer League play.

Wall was every bit as good as his pre-NBA press clippings in his Summer League debut on Sunday. Against the Golden State Warriors, Wall dropped 21 points and dished out 8 assists. In his follow-up performance, Wall put up a double-double, scoring 18 points(tied with former lottery pick Nick Young for team-high) along with 10 assists. Wall even flashed his quick hands against the Clips, nabbing five steals. After two games(both Wizards W’s), Wall is second(behind Golden State’s Reggie Williams) in scoring among Summer League participants with 21 points per game. The former Wildcat also leads the league with nine assists per game.

However, with the good comes the bad. In both games, Wall had eight turnovers. He also stayed true to the knocks on his jump shot by failing to net a three-pointer yet this season(so far, he’s 0-for-3). While the jumper will get there with a couple extra repetitions and some one-on-one work with new assistant Sam Cassell, the overabundance of turnovers have to concern the Wizards. If Wall is getting careless with the ball in glorified pick-up games against rookies, sophomores and fill-in scrubs, what is going to happen when Wall has to matchup against the Chris Pauls and Rajon Rondos of the world?

As much press as Wall has gotten(and deservedly so), he isn’t the only Wizard putting on a show this summer. Second-year big man JaVale McGee has been the inside force the Wizards have been longing for. He’s had back-to-back double-doubles so far, putting up 21 points and 13 rebounds(with two blocked shots) against Golden State and then going 10 and 12 against the Clippers the night after. McGee is the summer’s top rebounder and his continued improvement comes at the right time in terms of opportunity. With fellow big man Andray Blatche hurt and unlikely to be ready for the opener and the only other big that could pose a challenge being Charmin-soft Yi Jianlian(acquired from the Nets a couple weeks ago), McGee is in a prime position to log big minutes this upcoming season. Another guy making the case for some PT is rookie forward Trevor Booker out of Clemson. Booker hasn’t put up the big numbers that McGee and Wall have but he’s been solid in spurts. He contributed 9 points and 3 rebounds in the Warriors game and showed some defensive skill with two blocks and three steals. He came back the next night against L.A. with a 8 point/4 rebound performance as well as another block. Again, with Blatche out, Booker could slide in a pick up a few minutes here and there in his absence.

All in all, the Wizards continue to impress in the summer league. Wall, even with the turnovers, has proven to be the real deal(or, at least, as much of a real deal as one can be given the competition) and the team finally has signs of life from McGee(who averaged 6 and 4 in his rookie year last season). Booker’s pro career will be temporarily blocked by Jianlian and Blatche but a few more inspired performances can warrent a spot in the rotation down the road. This team is still a rebuilding project nowhere close to playoff contention, but with more stellar play from the youngsters, the Wizards can become respectable sooner rather than later.

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