Moving through the crowd at the Washington Wizards Media Day, longtime NBA analyst David Aldridge was gracious enough to offer his insight to the AFRO about Gilbert Arenas, John Wall and the Wizards’ chances this season.

AFRO: Gilbert Arenas showed up today looking a bit dazed and confused. Bearded, no smile, a short interview and a new number, what kind of ride are we in for this year with the former “Agent Zero?”

D.A.: What he said to us is irrelevant and how he said it to us is irrelevant. Everybody wants to make a big deal about the verbal cues and the visual cues he’s not going to talk to the media any more than he has to. I don’t think anybody should care about that. If they care about the Wizards then they should care about what he does on the court. That’s what I want to see.

AFRO: A new guard in town has the buzz-blowing heavy around the beltway. John Wall arrived in town earlier this summer amid a cult following and dazzled in the summer league. Is he the real deal or should we wait?

D.A.: I think you have to be realistic. Very few rookie point guards come in and dominate. Magic was one, but very few come in and dominate. It’s a learning curve, it takes a while. He’s got great talent, he’s got great skill he’s got great potential. I think he’s got a great mind for the game but it’s going to be a while. He’s an 18-year-old kid; it’s going to take him a minute to learn how to play in the league. He’s got to get stronger. He’s going to have to play 82 games or more but there will be nights when it’s working, they’ll look really good.

AFRO: The young talent on this team is plentiful. They can pretty much run with anybody, but will it be enough to restore the pride back in the District?

D.A.: very talented and Gilbert’s very talented and McGee’s very talented Blatche is talented so they’ll have good nights but they’re a young team and young doesn’t win in the NBA. Boys don’t beat men. They’re going to have growing pains. It’s going to be an adjustment year but the good thing I think for them is that at least they have some potential. You can always sell hope.

AFRO: If nothing else, what should the fans expect this season? Washington has a lot of talent but as you said, it’s going to be a process. So what are the areas on this team that will be eligible to grade as successful by the end of the year?

D.A.: You want to see how Wall develops. How he gets through this year and what he’s better at, at the end of the year, than the start of the year. You certainly want to see what Gilbert’s got to show he hasn’t played a full season in three years basically. You want to see if they can work together, I think they can. For the long term hope of this team, I’d look at McGee. I think McGee could be the key to this whole thing. If McGee starts to develop into a legitimate center, a legitimate center that can rebound, play defense and really impact the game, then they have a real chance to be good real soon. His physical gifts are insane. To me, if I was a Wizards fan, that’s who I’d be honed in on. They have a “one” , it’s just a matter of how long it takes. He’s going to be great, the question is do they have a “five”? If you have a “one” and a “five” you can win in this league.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO