Coming out of high school a year ago, John Wall was already being touted by some observers as the top prospect for the 2010 NBA Draft.
After a year at Kentucky, he has done nothing to dispel that notion. Although he and the Wildcats came up short in the NCAA tournament, Wall had a superb freshman season, averaging 16.6 points and 6.5 assists a game.
Providing they both leave school as expected, Wall and Ohio State’s Evan Turner are the leading candidates to become the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Both were named to the Associated Press All-America team announced Monday, with Turner receiving the highest point total overall.
However, Wall’s quickness, explosiveness and floor leadership make him more attractive in many expert’s eyes—particularly for teams in need of a true point guard.
Assuming Wall is the prized prospect, how would he help the potential lottery teams?
In the 25 years since the draft lottery began in 1985, there have been only three times when a team further than seven spots from the bottom won the top overall pick. As a result, we’ll analyze Wall’s potential impact on the seven teams currently (as of March 31) bringing up the rear in the NBA standings.
New Jersey Nets
Wall would be an exciting acquisition for the Nets, who can only go up after the embarrassment of this season. They have a new owner and are destined for a new arena in Brooklyn. Even if Wall requires seasoning at the pro level, the Nets have the time.
His arrival would signal the shift of Devin Harris to shooting guard, or perhaps persuade New Jersey to ship Harris out for a key acquisition. Despite this disastrous season, the Nets have some promising young players, including Brook Lopez, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Yi Jianlian.
Add Wall to the mix and things could get better in a hurry for the Nets.
The Timberwolves have the tandem of Johnny Flynn and Ramon Sessions at the point. Flynn has established himself as the team’s floor leader. Together, he and Sessions are scoring better than 21 points and dishing out more than seven assists a night.
Turner’s versatility is a better fit for the Wolves. They could also use more size and strength underneath—you can never get enough—but, if they get the top pick, look for them to go with Turner.
Golden State Warriors
With Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry in the fold, the Warriors simply don’t need Wall. Even if the lottery ball bounces Golden State’s way, they’d do well to grab either Turner or a solid big man, like Donatas Motiejunas out of Europe or Wall’s teammate, Demarcus Cousins.
Hassan Whiteside of Marshall also shows promise but is unlikely to go this high. The Warriors could also be attracted to the athleticism and overall game of Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors.
The Wizards said this week that Gilbert Arenas would return to the team next season. However, Arenas is not a classic point guard, and Wall would be a good running mate for the veteran sharpshooter.
It’s going to be a long climb back to respectability in D.C. With the late season emergence of Andray Blatche at the post, the Wizards could benefit from the acquisition of a can’t-miss prospect like Wall. He could singlehandedly help the Wizards and their fans begin the long process of putting this nightmare of a season behind them.
Rodney Stuckey appears to be the Pistons’ point guard of the future, providing this year’s health scares are just that and don’t turn into something more serious. Wall could help this team, but his selection would likely prompt a deal involving Stuckey—and the Pistons, like Minnesota and Golden State, need help inside.
Kwame Brown? Ben Wallace? Detroit needs a big man to start to build around. Rip Hamilton isn’t getting any younger, either. If the top pick goes to Detroit, look for them to go big with the likes of Motiejunas or Cousins, or perhaps to grab Turner to take over Hamilton’s spot at the two.
Tyreke Evans is the real deal, and has the league buzzing about his rookie numbers—particularly how they compare so favorably to those of LeBron James in his rookie year. With Kevin Martin having been shipped to Houston, Evans has become Sacramento’s undisputed king at point guard.
Although some might see a dream backcourt of Wall at the point and Evans at the two, the Kings would, like so many other teams, benefit more from landing of one of the top big men in this year’s draft. Don’t expect to see Wall in a Kings’ uniform.
New York Knicks
The Utah Jazz have New York’s pick. The Jazz are set at the point with Deron Williams, but not so at power forward, where Carlos Boozer’s future is in doubt.
The Jazz could also use help at shooting guard. If they win the lottery, look for them to pass on Wall in favor of players like Turner, Favors, Cole Aldrich of Kansas, or a guard like Wesley Johnson of Syracuse.
Jrue Holiday has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for Philadelphia at the point, but he’s no John Wall. If they get the first pick, they take Wall. He would be a great complement to Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams in the backcourt.
The Sixers could use a big man, and if they don’t get the first pick look for them to go that way. If they do get lucky at the lottery, however, Wall’s their guy.