“Leave it all out on the floor.”
Sports has, and always will be a large compilation of clichés and mantras which we often carry over into real life.
“Play like a champion”, “Lead by example”, “Play every game like it’s your last.”
On and on goes the list that is large enough to have its own book. When we look at the superstars and the leaders in any sport, there are several common traits that we admire.
Attitude. Confidence. Toughness. Desire.
As of late, all four have been called into question on a national stage for Chicago point guard, Derrick Rose.
The story of Rose suffering a gruesome ACL injury a year ago, from which he has been rehabbing is well known. By all accounts, he has poured his heart and soul into getting back to where he was and returning from injury sooner rather than later. His team just went through a grueling seven game series and pulled off a game 7 road victory, only to be rewarded with the task of playing the defending world champion Miami Heat. Throw in the fact that their starting lineup is decimated with injuries and the need for Rose’s return grows even larger. Joakim Noah looks like a man walking with wooden legs, Luol Deng is in the hospital for complications from a spinal tap, Nate Robinson was vomiting and sick with a stomach virus, and Kirk Hinrich has been out with a calf injury.
Overall analysis/evaluation: The Game Changer changed his game after taking a beating from agents, unnamed executives in NBA front offices and a former NBA coach. Oh yeah, how can we forget his exclusion from ESPN’s Top 25 under 25?
So what happened exactly?
Wizards fans saw two versions of John Wall this year. The first, a rusty third year point guard with superstar potential who had been limited to ZERO basketball activities for nearly 4 months. And then there was the Wall who finished the season on a tear and giving us a glimpse of all the work he had put in the summer before.
Which Wall should we expect next year? Neither.
We should expect a more determined, better conditioned and hungrier John Wall. As we saw from right around mid-March until the end of the season, Wall went on a scoring spree to go along with steady assist totals that we hadn’t seen around these parts since the Arenas days.
What we’ve always said about Wall is that IF he figures out his jump shot, combined with his speed and athleticism, he not only will make his way back into the Top 25 under 25, but will continue working his way up the pecking order of NBA point guards. Lost in all the dissing of Wall was the fact that he ended the year 22nd in PER among all NBA players at 20.91. His PER was also good enough for 6th mong NBA point guards, and 2nd in the Eastern Conference only trailing Kyrie Irving.
Wizards fans should be excited and I fully expect John to continue improving his turnover ratio, shooting percentage and free throw percentage as a result of his summer workout program. I’ll go as far out on a limb as to say IF he’s healthy, next February Wall will be making his first All-Star appearance for the Eastern Conference.
That said, my father always told me, “IF” grandma had wheels, she would have been a bicycle so take my prognostication for what it’s worth.no comments
Leading up to to last year's draft, the Wizards found themselves in a precarious situation. Everyone knew that Anthony Davis was going #1, but no one knew whether the Bobcats would take Marcus Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal. Surprise surprise, the Michael Jordan-led team made the wrong pick again.
With John Wall starting the season injured and Jordan Crawford being Jordan Crawford, Beal was thrust into the role of a go-to scorer. Initially, Beal struggled in this role. His shot wasn't falling, he looked uncomfortable, and Wizards fans were beginning to think that Ernie Grunfeld had bungled another draft pick. Then John Wall returned and with a backcourt of Wall and Beal, Wizards fans got a glimpse of the future, and what a bright future it is.
Even with the Wizards beset by injuries all year long, Beal thrived when he finally got play next to Wall. He thrived so much that the Wizards felt confident enough to bench and trade the last locker room cancer, Crawford. We watched his scoring average rise every month until he got injured at the end of the season. We watched him play lockdown defense at times, and we watched him hit a game winner over Oklahoma City.
We are watching a superstar in the making.
When Martell Webster was signed late in the offseason, I thought he would come in and play some backup shooting guard and get a little run at small forward as well. I liked the signing because I thought we needed some more bench scoring, but I didn't have huge expectations by any means.
Little did I know he was going to turn into my favorite Wizard, both on and off the court. To say he more than surpassed my expectations wouldn't be cutting it. I know that when you look at a guy who averaged only 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists that you shouldn't be raving too much about their production. But Webster played a key role on at times even carried the team when injuries mounted. He had seven games of 20+ points, including the one where he went 7-for-10 from 3- point land in route to a career high 34 points. Webster has shown he can be the deep threat shooting guard the Wizards need, and imagine how effective he can be with a full season of running with John Wall and Bradley Beal as opposed to limited time with them due to injuries. If the Wizards can bring Martell back at the right price -- see MLE -- they certainly shouldn't hesitate.
For AJ Price, the 2012-13 campaign was quite a shifty one. Price came into the season with a personal chip on his shoulder, and an ambition to resuscitate his short-lived career after a fairly unproductive stint with the Indiana Pacers. The injury to John Wall gave Price an ample opportunity to redeem himself and prove his worth as an NBA point guard, but instead he would become the product of a tumultuous early-season point guard carousel, and struggled early. Shuffled in and out of the lineup along with Shelvin Mack, Shaun Livingston, and Janerro Pargo – all who were eventually sent packing, Price survived the Grunfeld chop, as well as a broken hand and groin injury, finishing the season having a relatively positive year. Not only did Price emerge as Wall’s primary backup, but he was also productive playing with Wall in the backcourt, a critical advantage down the stretch with Bradley Beal out of the lineup.no comments
One of the brightest spots on this Wizards team last season was the emergence of Emeka Okafor. After he and much of the team struggled early on in the 2012-13 campaign, Okafor's season turned around for the best once John Wall was able to get back in to the line up. He went from being just an average big man on an average roster, to emerging as one of the team's best scorers, defenders and rebounders. His play elevated the play of the other players around him, especially the bigs. When Seraphin came in to the game, he felt pressured to perform at the level Okafor was producing at. That's the kind of pressure you look for as a head coach to put on the rest of the team. Even though statistically Okafor had his worst scoring season, if you simply judge his performance on the stats, you'd be blinded by the production he was able to give this team throughout the second half of the season when he was fully healthy and able to play alongside Wall and Beal.
I predict that Okafor, much like the rest of the team, will have much better numbers and potentially career highs in terms of statistics. I believe that this will also catapult the Wizards back in to the postseason for the first time since the ‘07 season. The idea of having a healthy Nene, Wall, Beal and Webster to line up next to him only makes me more excited for next season to start. I expect a lot of rebounds, easy buckets, and lots of blocks.
Okafor, much like the rest of the team, struggled early on. The Wizards got off to an 0-12 start, they were without Wall and Nene, while other guys were also missing games due to injury as well. With no real system in place, combined with consistent 4th quarter break downs, it was tough to really get a feel for any player early in the season. But right around Christmas, I noticed the team was playing with more confidence and as a result, everyone elevated their game. Then when John finally returned, everyone was that much more confident in their ability to play because they had their floor general back. Okafor led by example. He never complained, never got too heated and always kept an even keel on the court. He simply went out there, did his job, and was the best teammate on the court for the rest of the guys. He hustled, worked hard for rebounds and did whatever he could to put John and the rest of the backcourt in a great position to lead the team in transition.
The improvement or change in an NBA player's game has rarely ever been attributed to the shoes he's wearing. However, John Wall just may be that one exception. This column, written by guest writer Izzy Gainsburg from Wall's official website JohnWall2.com, explains Wall's dramatic change in production after switching over to the new Adidas Crazy-Quick sneakers.
Over twenty years ago, Mars Blackmon/Spike Lee joked in a commercial that Michael Jordan’s shoes somehow made him better. The joke being that Jordan’s work ethic and athleticism were what made him the greatest, not whatever he was wearing. Fast forward to today, that notion might be outdated; a shoe really can be catalyst for better play. Of course, we’re referring to John Wall’s ridiculous improvement after switching to and becoming the face of the all-new adidas CrazyQuick.
JW2 debuted the CrazyQuick on March 6th, 2013 and the positive effects from the shoe were on display, well, crazy-quick. In a close loss in Minnesota against Ricky Rubio and the T’Wolves, Wall put up 19 points (7-15 from the field), 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block.
Even more impressive is the difference between Wall’s play pre- and post-CrazyQuick. Check out the stats below, per NBA.com/Stats:
It’s tough to tell what’s more striking, the shoes’ design or their impact on Wall’s game.
Before the CrazyQuick, Wall was playing decent. But after? He was playing nothing short of superstar-quality basketball.
Wall was able to shoot, score, pass, rebound, and defend better in his new kicks. Despite playing more minutes with the CrazyQuick, he turned the ball over much less. And perhaps that’s what’s most important–the adidas CrazyQuick helped give Wall the needed confidence in his body to play seven more minutes per game.
After hearing Wall and the adidas Basketball’s Robbie Fuller talk about the CrazyQuick, the drastic improvement makes sense. Here are some highlights from an interview with Hypebeast. First, Fuller’s take on the shoe:
[HB:] Can you break down the tech aspect for us?
[Fuller:] Sure, quickness really has 3-4 dimensions – the recipe that equates to quickness. First is the traction. It’s amazing how much quickness, court-feel and redirection you can get if you’re using a real fine herringbone and orientating the transfer of the weight…Second is how it’s segmented so it can spread out as it hits the ground…Next is the Sprintframe, the orchestration in making sure that all the movement with the ground is being controlled and optimizing every movement…Finally, lightweight. Everything is better when light. You’re maximizing the shoe’s 11.25 ounces. It’s an industry leader in the realm of lightweight.
Here’s Wall’s take:
[HB:] So I heard you played in these recently.
John Wall: I broke out the Crazyquick last night [against the Wolves], so it was my first time wearing them in a game…It changes the game for me and allows me to easily change up my pace of game…I like that when you are wearing them, they don’t really weigh you down. The colorways match my uniform…The Crazyquick is going to change my game by making me quicker than my opponent, making the job a little easier for me.
Wall was right–the game definitely came easier to him after switching to the CrazyQuick.
JW2 had been previously wearing the adidas Crazy 8, which, at 15.3 ounces, is 33.3 percent heavier than the CrazyQuick. In other words, when Wall wore his old shoes, it was almost as if he was playing with the weight of an extra shoe on his feet. Not what a speedster like Wall needs.
As much as anything–its lightness, its traction, its sleek looks–the shoe seems to capture the elusive quality of responsiveness. For a player like JW2, who is known to make decisions and change directions on a dime, this characteristic is of the utmost importance.
Whatever awesome qualities the shoes bring to the table, what really matters is whether the adidas CrazyQuick can help your game. And looking at what happened to JW2′s game after switching to them, the results speak for themselves. The only question is whether everyone else will follow Wall’s lead and switch to the CrazyQuicks. The rest of the league has taken notice of Wall, but as long as they haven’t noticed his shoes, Wall will stay ahead of the curve by rocking one of the most effective shoes on the market.
Quick ain’t fair.no comments
In his first season with the Washington Wizards, much was expected of the veteran small forward due to the price tag that came along with him. Many hoped his veteran presence would help boost this team and help progress the younger guys on the squad. Ariza had a very slow start to the season, frustrating fans with his poor shot selection and inability to get anything in the hoop.
Ultimately outshined by Martell Webster, Ariza ended up recouping for the slow start by having a much better second half of the season. His shots were starting to fall and, more importantly, he was a defensive staple on this team who, even with a losing record, was referred to as one of the better defensive teams in the NBA. With Ariza stating towards the end of the season that he planned to be back, it will be nice to see how he gets his feet under him in his second season with Wall, Beal and company.no comments
News broke this morning that the next issue of Sports Illustrated would feature Wizards center Jason Collins on the cover. If that wasn’t surprising enough, the topic that landed him on the cover is also the number one trending topic on Twitter, along with coverage from every organization, including ESPN and the Associated Press.
Jason Collins is gay.
Being the first openly gay athlete in all four of the United States’ major professional sports is a huge deal. With this morning’s news, he has paved a new road for the way that professional sports will deal with openly homosexual athletes. There has been much discussion about it, but up until now, it was a “wait-and-see” kind of deal to see how the world will handle it.
While it’s still up in the air how he’ll be treated in the locker room and on the court from not only the players, but the fans as well, the initial reaction from everyone is one of support and embrace for what can only be described as one of the bravest moments in what can be described as a very homophobic-leaning sports atmosphere.
The NBA was quick to release a statement from David Stern after the announcement.
“As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.” #NBAFamily
The NBA has been hashtagging all relevant tweets with #NBAFamily, showing their open support of Collins, who will be a free agent after his short tenure with the Washington Wizards. Collins was acquired from Boston in a trade that sent Jordan Crawford packing.
Ernie Grunfeld made a statement about Collins, as well.
“We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly. He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.”
Players across the NBA were also quick to come to Jason’s defense and congratulate him for opening up. Steve Nash, Baron Davis and Earl Watson all tweeted their support for the 7’0 255-pound Center, but the most notable tweet came from Kobe Bryant, who had stepped away from his Twitter hiatus to say the following…
“@kobebryant: Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU”
Something that may slip under the radar is that as of this morning before the story came out, Jason Collins had just over 3,000 followers on Twitter. As of 12:45 P.M. this afternoon, Collins was up to 18,550.
In a world that is divided by the LGBT rights issue, Collins’ decision to come out is monumental for the community. Not only did he do it while semi-part of the Washington Wizards, and in a city considered one of the most tolerant and diverse areas in the United States, but he has allowed other players a venue to announce the same and to let them know they’re not alone.
Collins, who admitted this sexual orientation in his SI article, will have a lot more eyes on him next season. I doubt he remains a Wizard, but whoever does land Collins in the offseason is going to have one hell of a social experiment on their hands.
Hopefully the players and fans alike can make the NBA and its fans proud by proving to everybody that nothing changes and the extra media coverage will be a bust.
Garrett Temple was signed by the Wizards on Christmas Day due to injuries to John Wall, AJ Price, and Trevor Ariza, and turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving. Temple stepped in to his role right away and averaged 31 minutes over his first seven games.
The entire backcourt was bit by the injury bug at some point this past season and Temple was ready whenever his number was called. He brought a level of professionalism and a mentality of hard work to the team. He finished the year averaging 21 minutes per contest for the season and entrenched himself as part of the every day rotation.