Only thing Wall's shy of is experience

Wizards rookie appears to embrace challenge of being in spotlight

February 04, 2011|By Fort Worth Star-Telegram

DALLAS — As the No. 2 pick in the 1994 NBA draft by the Mavericks, Jason Kidd practically has walked in John Wall's shoes.

Kidd entered the league after his sophomore year at California with tons of hype, an electrifying game and the ability to create a buzz with his frenetic play while getting the ball up and down the floor.

Fast-forward to this season, and Wall is following a blueprint similar to Kidd's.

Wall was the No. 1 pick last summer by the Wizards and entered the league with tons of hype after playing just one season at Kentucky. He's a kid with a sexy last name — like Kidd — the electrifying game and the ability to go wall-to-wall up the court in a split second.

In a way, it's almost as if Wall is the second coming of Kidd. Which is why Kidd didn't mind offering some advice for his Wizards counterpart.

"You're not going to come in quietly and surprise anybody," Kidd said.

"You're on the radar, and it's kind of a platform. Do you accept that challenge, or do you want to shy away from it? I think he's a guy that has accepted that challenge and has done quite well."

Wall averages 14.7 points and 4.1 rebounds and is fifth in the league with 9.3 assists per game. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound point guard has missed 12 games with various injuries but has established himself as a player with megastar potential.

"He's a good, solid rookie," Mavericks guard Jason Terry said. "He plays with reckless abandon.

"He reminds me of a young (Russell) Westbrook, Derrick Rose. He plays with tons of energy and he's fast as lightning."

Dominique Wilkins said it's up to Wall whether he can live up to the hype associated with being a No. 1 draft choice. As the No. 3 pick in the 1982 draft after leaving Georgia following his junior season, Wilkins also had a huge build-up to his rookie season.

Wilkins, now 50, acknowledged that Wall has a gift that, if harnessed properly, could net him star status for many years.

"He has a lot of potential and he's still got a lot to learn about the NBA game," Wilkins said. "But he's a kid who has all the right tools to be a great point guard in this league.

"He has super quickness, he has great court awareness. It's just up to him how good he becomes."

Wilkins, known as "The Human Highlight Film" because of his various assortments of dunks, said Wall also has to learn how to deal with the pressure attached to being a high draft pick.

"Any time you're a highly sought-after young guy coming into this league, there's a lot of pressure on you," Wilkins said. "But, hey, that's what this is about.

"That's why you compete. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Hawks general manager Rick Sund said although Wall is a decorated player, fans must not expect too much too fast.

"He's obviously got a lot of physical tools and eventually he's going to be a very, very good player," Sund said. "He's a good player now, but he's going to be a very, very good player in time.

"But you've got to go through the process."

Part of that process, Kidd said, is adjusting to the high expectations, the travel, the 82-game schedule and the overwhelming media attention.

Kidd also noted that Wall must learn how to take care of his body and get his proper rest.

"Just trying to stay healthy, and then also understanding the level that you have to play when you have that attention," Kidd said. "He is talented and he understands how to play.

"As a rookie it's a lot to ask for. But he's doing quite well with it."

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