Early Return on Wizards' Investment?

Posted on December 01, 2013 by Adam Bradley

As seen in todays Frederick News Post.

Last summer, the Washington Wizards’ decision to re-sign point guard John Wall to a max contract drew skepticism around the NBA.

The team gave a five-year, $80 million extension to a guy who’s team has gone 72-158 during his tenure and landed in the draft lottery each of those three years. He has yet to make an all-star game, has major holes in his jump shot, has never show an ability to shoot 3-pointers and has often been injured.

The skepticism was understandable.

But the contract extension had to be offered. The Wizards couldn’t afford to not do it.

When you have a young talent with potential to turn into a superstar, you hold onto it like a mother to her baby.

Now, the question is: Are the Wizards seeing an early return on their risky investment?

The answer is yes.

Despite a record hovering around .500, with games missed by center Nene and shooting guard Bradley Beal, this team would be a shell of itself without Wall running the show.

He’s maturing into a guy who is worthy of the title he was given in the offseason: a max-contract player. Nothing is more evident of his maturation than his multi-dimensional ability to help the Wizards win games.

In the Wizards’ seven wins through Friday, Wall has scored as many as 31 points and as few as 14. He’s dished out as many as 16 assists and as few as seven. He’s shot well (10 of 18) and he’s shot poorly (5 of 17). He’s been hot from behind the arc (5 of 8) and he’s laid a goose egg (twice). He’s protected the ball with two turnovers, but he’s also been reckless with seven.

While some might look negatively at the games where Wall has shot poorly or turned the ball over a lot, layers of positives surround each performance. Despite the variances, he was still able to pull through.

I asked Washington coach Randy Wittman his thoughts on Wall’s early season production:

“He can do it scoring 31 and he can do it with 10 points and 16 assists,” Wittman said. “When he plays to that balance, what are they going to do each night? You going to take Wall away, good, he’ll get 16, 17 assists. If not, he’ll create more scoring opportunities.”

That’s a dangerous thing when a point guard can beat you in more ways than one, and it’s an ability that all great point guards possess. His versatility is a sign of his on-court maturity and evolving skill set. He’s allowing the game come to him.

Wall isn’t great, but he wants to be, and this new multi-dimensional skill set will help him get there one day.

Adam Bradley is co-host of “The Ball Hogs” show and “WizardsXTRA.” Follow him on Twitter:@BallHogsRadio. Bradley bio: My love for D.C. sports (substitute the Orioles for the Nats) is greater than the quality of performances the teams have given me back in return, but that will soon change. I BELIEVE! Watching and studying sports isn’t just a hobby; it’s a passion, too — and I look forward to bringing that passion to you. A local guy with local ties and my hope is that you’ll enjoy what you read and hear.

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