Washington Wizards’ top selection John Wall already has a day named after him in the District. If he continues to dazzle at the NBA Summer League, it might be time for him to start campaigning in favor of a week. Wall finished with 18 points and 10 assists in his second game of summer league play, piloting the Wizards to an 89-64 route of the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. The electric rookie added five steals and made all eight of his free throws in the win, in a game that saw him heckled, harassed and nearly hurt.

The Washington franchise received a brief scare late in the first quarter when Wall collided with former Kentucky teammate Eric Bledsoe that left its savior dazed on the ground for a few moments. After collecting himself, the 19-year-old stepped to the free throw line and calmly knocked down two freebies and even flashed a sly smile to ensure those in attendance at Las Vegas’ Cox Pavilion that he was OK. His next trip to the line wasn’t as welcomed however as a bystander started solo chanting “overrated” amongst a few grumblings in the crowd.

The onlooker, Clipper Darrell, the famed Los Angeles Clippers fan that’s attended 385 straight Clipper games, bellowed the chant on Wall’s next pair of free throw trips but the No. 1 overall pick remained unfazed. Wall appeared more relaxed in his second game, swishing jump shots and setting up teammates for alley-oops and open threes. The rookie also dished out eight turnovers which now gives him a total of 16 in two games. But at this point, the turnovers from the young point guard are expected and easily forgivable.

Fourth-year guard Nick Young joined the Wizards summer league team on Monday and finished with 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. Third-year center JaVale McGee continued his strong play as well, collecting 12 rebounds and adding 10 points. The trio of Wall, Young and McGee combined for more than half of the Wizards’ points and worked well collectively before sitting out the waning moments of the game.

Besides the quickness, poise and resilience, another thing Wall displayed impressively was the trademark mannerisms that quietly laced his Kentucky career. The guard was seen clapping, flexing and smiling episodically throughout the night – almost in a brash but self-assuring kind of way. Simply put, Wall has personality and the more the young man shows, the more it takes to all those associated with the Wizards organization.

“I think he’s going to be a player but I wouldn’t put too much stock into summer league,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said in a televised interview. “He’s still young and we don’t want to put too much responsibility on him but he’s certainly one of the foundational pieces that we’re going to rebuild the team around.”

Wall even made a fan out of Clipper Darrell, who shouted “John Wall, excuse me … I love you!” during a period of silence late in the game.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO