John Wall is entering his third NBA season since being drafted first overall by the Washington Wizards in 2010. He has yet to blossom into the franchise point guard, but that has less to do with his development and more to do with a poorly built roster, coaching changes and undefined expectations.
Newly drafted shooting guard Bradley Beal could be the key to helping Wall take the step from promising young talent to elite NBA star.
As a player, Wall is a bit of an enigma because of his ever-evolving skill set. He has the court vision and passing ability to put up assist numbers like Chris Paul, but his length, quickness and ability to score off the dribble are more akin to Derrick Rose.
Though he does not yet have the knockdown mid-range jumper to keep defenses honest, Wall's biggest issues to this point have been his teammates.
In his first two seasons, Wall was dishing off to a cast of boneheads and freelancers who have since been sent packing. Andray Blatche, formerly thought to possess a world of potential, grew lazy on offense, settling for fadeaway jump shots with a hand in his face from 15 feet out.
JaVale McGee and Nick Young were consumed with personal accolades and often sacrificed open looks for highlight-reel plays, Wall assists, or being out of place entirely, creating turnovers.
With Beal, the Wizards hope to have a stabilizing presence in the backcourt and on the perimeter—someone to be on the wing to knock down a three with Wall drawing double teams on a drive through the lane.
The problem with putting so much pressure on Beal is that he's just a rookie and will have to acclimate himself to the NBA.
Beal enters the NBA to minimal fanfare compared to the likes of top pick Anthony Davis or second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and rightfully so. Beal didn't set the world on fire at Florida, though he still ranked as one of the best shooting guard prospects in last year's draft.
Unlike Davis and MKG, Beal doesn't have to be the centerpiece for his team, and the absence of such immense pressure could be perfect for him.
The biggest concern regarding Beal is that he didn't have a spectacular season with the Gators in 2011-2012. He averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, showing marked improvement over his last dozen games; but inconsistency can be devastating for a rookie playing such a pivotal role so early in his career.
Wall needs Beal to establish himself as a knockdown shooter to open up the lane by drawing defenders, and you don't draw defenders until you earn respect.
Beal is a solid, if unremarkable one-on-one player. He can get to the basket, but he doesn't have the handles or size to lose or out-muscle defenders in his way. Beal needs to establish his shot early to open his, Wall's and the rest of the Wizards' game.
Wall is likely to start fast this season, and the hope is that Beal can follow suit. Anyone expecting Beal to kick of his career averaging 15 points per game is fooling themselves, unless he shows early on that his inconsistency at Florida was a fluke.
It may not be a pretty season ahead for the Wizards, but things could get exciting if they can find some chemistry among the odd mix of youth and experience.
For Wall, having a potential shooting threat like Beal is likely to take some pressure off of him. And less pressure means a calmer approach to the game, which is a dangerous thing for other teams to face.
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