The NBA is rarely the talk of the sports world so long after the season has ended. With the Miami Heat cleaning up in free agency and the finals long over, there are very few fresh topics to cover this offseason. For the Washington Wizards, there is plenty to talk about. Especially since they've had the pleasure of watching newly drafted point guard John Wall during the team's Vegas Summer League.
Anyone who was tired of all the hype around Wall should turn away now, because it only gets louder from here.
To get the numbers out of the way, 19-year old Wall averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in four games during the Wizards' summer league. Perhaps it would be wise to take that with a grain of salt, since it is summer league, where defense is virtually unheard of. Also take into account that most of the players don't make NBA rosters for 2010-2011 season.
Even so, Wall made his presence known with his performance, and earned the night off for Washington's final summer league contest. Good thing too, since the Wizards blew a 20-point lead to lose to the Knicks.
Beyond his sheer ability to score and his obvious knack for making his teammates better, Wall showed a great proficiency in getting to the free throw line. He was 41-for-47 from the line through his four appearances, and averaged 13.1 attempts per 36 minutes.
The one issue in Wall's game are turnovers, which everyone knew from his time at Kentucky. Through two games, he averaged close to 10 turnovers per 36 minutes, but cut that number down to 2.6 turnovers in his last two games.
For a rookie, a teenager even, that is impressive progress no matter what level of competition. It shows his ability to identify where his mistakes are happening and fixing them on the fly.
His work ethic is the polar opposite of former Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who was a beast early on in the Kings' summer league, but mental mistakes and visible immaturity took over and ruined his summer resume. Wall was unstoppable from the start and adjusted to maintain his high level of play, while Cousins regressed and allowed his flaws to get the best of him.
Thank goodness GM Ernie Grunfeld didn't make the mistake of reaching for Cousins, who some people say had the highest potential coming out of the draft.
The Wizards have a long way to go just to get to the regular season, but the brief glimpse at the future of the franchise has given the fans something to talk about in a positive light. The Wizards may not be the talk of the town heading toward their respective season, but it won't be long before the Verizon Center becomes the hottest ticket through the fall and winter with the Capitals and Wizards building from the bottom up to reach the playoffs and beyond.