And Wall was better in Monday’s 29-point rout of Orlando. Wall often displayed electrifying ballhandling and passing as the Wizards produced their highest point total and largest margin of victory of the season. The best part for the Wizards was apparent to anyone at Verizon Center or watching on television at home: Wall’s quickness and speed is coming back.
Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking: Any team could make the Magic disappear. What’s most important is how Washington’s blowout occurred: Wall and the Wizards’ other most promising young players — forward Kevin Seraphin and guard Bradley Beal — had something good working.
On a fast break late in the third quarter, Wall delivered a perfect lob pass to Beal, who elevated and dunked to complete a crowd-pleasing play that indicated Wall and Beal were on the same page. To me, a less exciting, but no less significant, sign of the developing Wall-Beal relationship occurred in the second quarter.
Wall knows how important Beal, who was named the NBA’s rookie of the month for December, is to the franchise’s future. In an effort to get Beal going in the game, Wall decided to forgo a makable shot and instead passed to Beal, who connected on an open jumper. Likewise, Wall passed up scoring opportunities and repeatedly fed Seraphin (he really has a nice shooting touch) in the post. “He’s a pass-first point guard,” Grunfeld said, “who wants to make the people around him better.”
Forward Jan Vesely could actually benefit the most from Wall’s return. Vesely, the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft, shoots poorly. It’s hard to be a productive NBA player when you can’t shoot. But Vesely is athletic and likes to run, which also makes him a good fit with Wall.
“He’ll really help” the young players, Grunfeld said. “John has all the tools to be a star-quality player.”
Some NBA decision-makers believe Wall will never develop into a superstar. He’ll merely be a good player, they say. Perhaps they’re right. But the Wizards are definitely more interesting with Wall – and it’s good to see them together again.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.