John Wall, the first pick in the 2010 NBA draft, inked a 5-year, $80 million extension with the Wizards Wednesday. While the number is a large one, and many will argue Wall has underachieved and not improved since he got to the NBA, the Wizards had no choice but to extend him. There was no decision to make.
People love to talk about his tattoos (do they ever!) and his dancing, but there’s one thing you can’t ignore: Potential. Wall is 22. Washington has been a dumpster fire during his first three years, and he’s only now getting talented teammates around him (Bradley Beal, Otto Porter).
Will Wall grow into a leader on a playoff team? Nobody knows the answer to that. Will he become an elite point guard? That remains to be seen. He’s no Stephen Curry, but you already knew that.
But here’s the alternative to not extending Wall – letting a young player who hasn’t reached his prime yet walk away and getting nothing in return. And don’t kid yourselves – Wall would have suitors if the Wizards didn’t extend him. This isn’t Milwaukee cutting a bum like Joe Alexander after drafting him 8th. Or Hasheem Thabeet going 2nd to the Grizzlies in 2009 only to get traded when he flopped. Or Adam Morrison getting drafted 3rd by the Bobcats in 2006 and then dumped. It was very obvious early on that none of those guys had a future in the pros. Two of them are already out of the league, and Thabeet will be a career backup.
Wall probably won’t crack the Top 5 point guard list in the NBA anytime soon, but his numbers last season – 18.5 points, 7.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game – were actually quite strong. If the jump shot improves, I don’t see why he can’t be a Top 20 player in the NBA in a few years.
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