With the eyes of the nation on Kentucky last night to find out whether the Tea Party could make its presence known (apparently it was a “Randslide”) and win a trip to Washington, the biggest Kentucky connection to DC may have instead come from the NBA Draft Lottery. The Washington Wizards won the Lottery and now John Wall is likely headed to DC to become a member of the Artists Formerly Known as the Bullets. The Wizards were the 5th most likely team to win the event, but the ping pong balls broke their way and the 85 year old wife of the former owner looked as shocked as at any point in her life since they stopped serving the Shoney’s Breakfast Buffet at night. Wall was interviewed from Beverly Hills and seemed moderately pleased, even though the Wizards were not one of the three teams where his team had assumed he would end up. DC is excited today about the possibility of adding John Wall and the PG himself said he hopes Obama comes and watches a few of his games. All in all, a great night for the Wizards, John Wall and his legion of UK fans that are behind him.
However now that the excitement has died down a bit, what will a John Wall Wizards team be like? On a personal note, I am very excited about the possibilities as I was once a lowly upper-level Wizards season ticket holder and hold a soft spot in my heart for their all-around awfulness. The last time the Wizards picked #1, they ended up with Kwame Brown, so there is nowhere for Wall to go but up. However this roster in Washington wont make it easy. The first and most important question for Wall and the Wizards’ ownership is what to do about Gilbert Arenas.
Everyone knows about the Arenas gun issues and his prankster lifestyle (he once pulled a joke on his teammate by pooping in his shoe), but bringing him back raises two distinct problems. First, not to put too fine a point on it but Arenas is a crazy knucklehead. You will hear a lot of people talk about whether he would be a “bad influence” on Wall, but I dont worry about that as those that dont know him would (I even heard Chuck Todd of NBC today say their were “character issues” with Wall…stick to politics and goatee growing my friend). Wall is too professional to let his NBA dreams be detoured by a raving lunatic. But it is the case that if your best (or potentially now second best) player is a distraction, the team cannot reach its potential. However an even bigger worry may be an actual basketball issue. Even IF Arenas has been rehabilitated and is now much calmer, he could struggle to play with Wall. For Arenas to be good, he needs the ball in his hand. He is a creator and does not score, or play, well with others. He has played PG since coming to Washington and moving to Shooting Guard may be tough. And if he does move to the shooting guard, he will be a non-factor on defense. So it is more than reasonable to wonder if a Wall-Arenas pairing can really work on the court.
As for the rest of the Wizards’ roster, there are a lot of good, but not really great, pieces. Josh Howard, Andray Blatche, Al Thornton, Mike Miller and Randy Foye are all serviceable pieces, and with an invigorated Point Guard, they can be improved. But every star needs at least one other co-star to be great in the NBA. None of those players can reach that lofty status. The one who can is Arenas, and who knows where that will lead.
However even with those concerns, the Wizards do give Wall a chance to make his mark. Flip Saunders is the Coach and has an extensive history of coaching in the league. From Day One, Wall would come in and be handed the keys to the ship. He will get a chance, like Tyreke Evans and Derrick Rose, to put up the numbers to become Rookie of the Year and be the first foundation in the rebuilding of the franchise. Wall likes the city of DC and if he does well there, he will get a great deal of national attention. So while it may not have been the ideal location that New Jersey could have been, it is still a place where Wall can become a star. And on a selfish level, I will get to see him play and listen to Tony Kornheiser talk about him on the radio podcasts on a daily basis. All in all, a win-win.
Oh yeah, one more wrench to throw in. The Wizards probably liked Boogie Cousins more than any other team. Just throwing that out there to keep in the back of your mind….