All the way back in January, Stan Van Gundy had some harsh words about John Wall, saying on ESPN radio that “I don’t think John Wall’s good enough to be the guy that you build around.” Wizards fan were understandably upset, since Wall wasn’t yet back from injury and many of us felt that he hadn’t been in the league long enough to determine his ceiling.
Well, in lockstep with the rest of the media’s John Wall apology tour in the wake of his 47 point game, Stan Van Gundy had some incredibly kind words for Wall and the Wizards.
“And if you look at the numbers, they’re the ninth-best team in the league if you compare defensive numbers and offensive numbers — the ninth-best team in the league, fourth-best team in the East since he’s come back,” Van Gundy continued. “So this is a team that you could project, with John Wall, could be not only a playoff team but be sitting with home-court in the playoffs. And they were the worst team in the league before he came back. Nobody else has done that for a team.
“But I look at his numbers and he’s still not a real efficient guy. Forty-five percent shooting’s a little bit better, but for a point guard, 45 percent, and you don’t make many threes, that’s still not really efficient. Three-and-a-half turnovers a game. So there’s still some things to doubt, but his presence has been HUGE for that team, and they went from being a good defensive team, to a GREAT defensive team when he came back. They’re second in the league defensively since he came back.
“So I think that he has proven me wrong in terms of his value to a team. I’m still not sure he’s enough to build a team around, but if you could put a great offensive player around him, then possibly that could be enough to start pushing this team to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.”
-Read the Dan Steinberg’s column here
Now, as much as I want to agree with Van Gundy’s new found love of the Wizards, I have several issues with this. First, the Wizards becoming a top four team in the Eastern conference next year is pretty outrageous. I think the Wizards ceiling for next season is a 6 seed, and that might even be stretching it. No way that’s correct.
Second, I think Van Gundy is giving Wall WAAY to much credit in the Wizards turn around. Wall definitely hasn’t been responsible for the Wizards great defense and while he’s helped the offense, it’s inconclusive about how much he’s helped. And while Wall has been absolutely incredible so far in March, nights like last night against OKC show Wall isn’t a superstar yet.
The facts remain the same as they were before John Wall’s 47 point game: John Wall is a player with tantalizing potential who is improving, but needs to keep improving to be a player to build around. New national media love for Wall doesn’t change this.