Thursday, April 26, 2012

26/4 - Wizards at Cavs

I had to watch this game in segments, so it was hard to get a real feel for the flow of the game, but I was very disappointed that Kyrie Irving barely played and didn't step up to the challenge of facing Wall head-to-head. As a result, I can't say much about Kyrie, I barely noticed he was on the floor because he was deferring a whole lot.

Vesely showed some nice moves, he really hustles around the basket, runs the break extremely well and is the perfect PF to run with Wall. He's like a smaller Javale McGee in terms of his lanky athleticism, but without the boneheadedness that got McGee shipped to Denver. Jan threw down one brilliant dunk for an and-one in transition, living up to his name as the European Blake Griffin. Defensively, he was aggressive showing on the pick and roll, and was quick to recover and contest the jumper of the roll man.

Nene is a real leader out there, he came off the bench as he's still not 100%, but he's very vocal when he's on the floor and makes great decisions passing out of the post in the half-court. He showed off his nice shooting touch, with a couple of spot up shots and even a step back J with the shot clock winding down. I think he's best served starting at the 5, although he has the versatility to play PF or C, with Vesely a nice complement, with his scrappiness and hustle. This means that Seraphin will come off the bench, but I think a scoring option off the bench suits him at this point in his career, he's not quite ready to start, as he disappears for long stretches at times, which was the case today. Coming off the bench behind a vet like Nene will work to the advantage of the Wizards and Seraphin in the long term.

On to the big name, Mr John Wall. I first read about Wall in SLAM magazine and they described him as moving at "warp speed", and it's a fair metaphor for just how quick Wall is with the ball in his hands. It's not just that he has a quick top speed, but you often see him gracefully loping up the court with the ball whilst the players around him are in a dead run, and then at the drop of a hat he can be through the gap in the transition D and at the rim. He missed a few chippy shots at the rim tonight, but the ease with which he got there was jaw-dropping. He's so catlike in his movements that you can never tell what he's going to do next, it's even more amazing when you consider his tremendous size and length for his position. Alonzo Gee is considered an athletic freak, but Wall casually blocked his dunk attempt against the backboard in transition, and was punished only for a little body contact. Defensively, he seemed much more energized than the last time I saw him play, probably the side effect of a 4 game winning streak heading into tonight's game. However, scoring and D aside, Wall's passing was on full display tonight, with at least 13 assists at my last count. Some of the more brilliant dishes came in transition, and I can't emphasise enough just how dangerous Wall is on the break, even if you have 3 people back on D, Wall probably has a 50/50 chance of scoring or creating an opportunity to score before it becomes a halfcourt set. That said, Wall still struggled with his turnovers and played a bit wild at times, but you hope that whoever the Wizards bring in to coach this team next season allows John to continue to play fast and loose, because overly restricting Wall's wiggle room would be a crime against basketball. If Wall ever develops a midrange jumper off the dribble, then it's game over, I just don't see how anyone would be able to stop him, short of doubling him every time he gets the ball, except that Wall's passing is so great that he'd find the open man and punish you that way.

I'm going to end this report with a bold statement; if all the young PGs in the NBA (anyone Westbrook's age or younger) were taken in isolation, Wall would be the best equipped to win multiple championships. Wall has such an instinctive feel for distributing, is such a menace in transition, and has such great length for his position that he reminds me of Magic Johnson. He's the sort of guy who could consistently elevate the play of his teammates over the course of a 10 year span, so long as he had the right running mates. I know, Wall hasn't won a whole lot in the NBA thus far, but his situation is completely different from Magic's, and while Rose is a more talented player, and Westbrook is more athletic, Wall's game lends itself to post-season success, because it's rare for PGs who do the majority of the team's scoring to be particularly successful.

This season was a bit of letdown, sure, but Wall is the real deal, and I'm glad I saw this game to renew my faith in one of my favourite prospects in a long time.

Last day of the regular season tomorrow, and I'll be watching the Kings and Lakers, should be fun watching Kobe gun for that scoring title.

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