While the world is waiting to crown a NBA champion and close the latest chapter on the storied Lakers/Celtics rivalry, Kentucky point guard John Wall is beginning a book of his own. After an outstanding freshman season under Coach John Calipari at Kentucky, Wall has taken his show to the NBA Draft. It is presumed that he will be the first overall selection, which is currently held by the Washington Wizards. However, before making that investment, the Wizards wanted to test out the goods.
Today, Washington hosted a solo workout for Wall, a privilege that six other draft prospects weren’t given at a later session. Attending the workout were new team owner Ted Leonsis, general manager Ernie Grunfeld, and head coach Flip Saunders. Wall displayed dribble drive ability with both hands, pull-up jumpers, and even brought a few dunks out of his bag of tricks. On his own performance, Wall said, “I felt I could have shot the ball a little better, but my back started tightening up.” Also adding that he felt like he did a “good job.”
The excitement about the possibility of Wall coming to the Nation’s Capital is growing as we approach next week’s draft. The city is no stranger to being home to bright young superstars that are selected first overall. Perhaps the best player in the NHL, Alex Ovechkin was selected by the Washington Capitals first overall in 2004. The talk of the baseball world right now is Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who was selected first in the 2009 MLB Draft. When asked about Strasburg, Wall said, “I’ve seen the debut of Strasburg. It was a big time debut.” Washington sports fans hope that debut magic translates to the basketball court as well.
Wall is also very aware of another big time Washington star. When asked about President Barack Obama, Wall said that he previously challenged the President to a game when the two met last season, but was declined. He added that he wanted to be picked by the Wizards in hope that President Obama would make it out to some of his games. “But before that, I want to play him in that game of H-O-R-S-E,” said Wall. You have to admire that kind of competitive spirit. Not even willing to take “no” as an answer from the leader of the free world.
The 2010 NBA Draft takes place next Thursday. Washington fans can do the “John Wall Dance” in some of this Wizards fan gear, available now here at Eastbay.
As NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver revealed the card that named the Washington Wizards as the winners of the 2010 NBA Draft lottery, Irene Pollin stood in awe and simply said, “Oh my God.” Irene is the widow of the late long time Wizards owner Abe Pollin, and wore his 1978 NBA Championship ring for good luck. “This is wonderful. My husband never took this ring off his finger,” said Irene. Irene hopes the good fortune of that championship ring will help the Wizards find their way to another.
This season was certainly a trying time for the Wizards franchise. Guards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were both suspended for the season after a locker room altercation that involved firearms. Following that incident, the Wizards parted ways with core players Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler in trades that were more about dropping salary than they were bringing in new talent. The Wizards finished the season 26-56, and were unclear in their plans moving forward. That all changed with the luck of the ping-pong ball on Tuesday night.
The Wizards had just a 10.3 percent change of coming out of the lottery victorious. They, and the Philadelphia 76ers, leapfrogged into the top 3 when the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, and Golden State Warriors all tumbled down the list. The Sixers, who were represented by guard Jrue Holiday, brought one of the hockey sticks that was used in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 0-3 series comeback against the Boston Bruins. The magic must have worked, as the Sixers only possessed a 6.03 chance of winning the lottery. Perhaps the biggest loser in the lottery were the New Jersey Nets, who finished with the league’s worst record and only came out with the third overall pick to show for it.
The presumed prize of the lottery is standout Kentucky freshman John Wall. Wall is the third straight John Calipari starting point guard projected to be selected toward the top of the NBA draft. The last two NBA Rookie of the Year award winners, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, also played under Calipari. The other coveted player in this year’s rookie class is National Player of the Year, Evan Turner. Turner, a guard out of Ohio State, lead the Big Ten in scoring and finished second in rebounds and assists. He’s expected to go to Philadelphia with the second overall pick. However, there’s still a little over a month until the draft, and plans always change.
You can watch the 2010 NBA Draft on June 24th at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
images via Yahoo & ESPN