John Wall has been the headliner in Vegas this week for the Washington Wizards’ summer league team, but his teammates have often provided the opening and closing acts.

Wall had another solid performance July 15, dropping in free throws while his teammates dropped in jumpers and jams to help Washington drop the Dallas Mavericks 88-82 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. Cartier Martin added 23 points and JaVale McGhee wowed the crowd with 18 points and a series of acrobatic slams.

Wall was there to set it all up however, leading the team with 10 assists and seven rebounds while adding 21 points as the Wizards improved to 3-0 in summer league play.

Washington jumped out to a 15-0 start as Martin hit his first six shots, three of them from behind the arc. When Martin wasn’t dazzling the crowd with a flawless shooting display, McGhee and Wall were impressing with athleticism. At times, the best play for the Wizards was Wall beating his man off the dribble and launching a shot at the rim for McGhee to follow.

McGhee finished the third quarter with a crowded putback slam, an Alley-Oop finish, a reverse layup and another one-handed putback that prompted the third-year center to recite “too easy, too easy” as he strutted down court. With his mother in attendance, McGhee didn’t disappoint, closing the night on a 9-of-10 display from the field.

Wall however, struggled with his own shooting with a 4-of-19 performance, but did convert 13 of his 15 free throws. The rookie has been impossible to guard throughout summer league play, evidenced by his 34 total free throw attempts. While his jump shot has been a work in progress, he’s shown a soft shooting touch from the stripe, connecting on 91 percent of his freebies.

Although Wall finished with his worse shooting night of the week, he only had three turnovers, a dramatic drop off from the 16 he accounted for in the week’s first two games. Through three games, the No. 1 overall pick is averaging 21 points, 9.3 assists, and over three rebounds and two steals per night, a week’s performance that has impressed several in attendance.

“He’s done a great job,” 2009 No. overall 1 draft pick Blake Griffin said in a televised interview. “He’s every bit as good as advertised. He’s going to have a good year. He just needs to keep learning and I’m sure he will. He’s a bright kid and he knows he’s got some work to do to get where he wants but he’s already on a good start. Obviously he’s explosive … everyone can see that but the things that really impress me are how controlled and how poised he is out there.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO