Washington Wizards fans saw a lot this week from their team in Las Vegas’ Summer League play.

They saw rookie phenom John Wall jump, they saw him run and they saw him score. They saw Washington close the week with a 4-1 record. And they also saw a work in progress as the 19-year-old guard committed a bevy of turnovers but often made up for his mistakes with some spectacular play.

Wall finished the week with averaging 23.5 points, 7.8 assists, four rebounds and a forgettable 5.3 turnovers per game. The guard proved to be everything he was advertised as in his first taste of NBA action, leading the summer team in both scoring and assists throughout the week. He flashed playmaking ability as well as style and leadership. He also displayed improvement after reducing his turnovers from 16 in the week’s first two games to five in his last two outings.

NBA associates will tell you the summer league is a chance for unheralded players to make the team and show improvement. But make no mistake: for the Wizards, this week was all about Wall.

“I know a lot of people wanted to see me play, see if I was live up to the hype,” Wall told The Washington Post. “But I just wanted to come out here and play basketball. I still have a whole lot to learn, and a whole lot to prove to people. In the NBA, you’ve got a lot of time to get better; I’m just ready to keep getting better.”

Third-year center JaVale McGee also shined in his week in Vegas, posterizing players and tantalizing scouts and fans with guard-like moves and big man attributes. After averaging 19.5 points and 9.3 rebounds in four games this week, Washington’s two expected starters at the point guard and center position showed nothing to discourage hopes for a solid season next year.

The Wizards will break until the beginning of training camp later this fall with quite a few questions remaining. Critics will be intrigued to see if Wall can work with tarnished superstar Gilbert Arenas in the same backcourt (if Arenas isn’t traded before the season). And they will question how a team that finished at the bottom of the Southeastern Division can find ways to compete with the Orlando Magic, the Atlanta Hawks and the new powerhouse Miami Heat.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO