Draft Express has a great breakdown of yesterday’s Jordan Brand Classic practice session, which they say was dominated by John Wall, calling it the “John Wall show”. Seriously, this kid is phenomenal and it’s cool just to be in the running for a player like this. It’s certainly been a while. Here’s their report on Wall’s play:
He came roaring out of the gates, putting his incredible athleticism on full display in the form of a number of breathtaking dunks and blocks, doing a magnificent job of picking apart the defense with his ridiculous first step and finding players time after time with phenomenal pinpoint passes right underneath the rim for easy baskets.
Considering that this is the first time we’ve seen Wall play live since last July, we noticed a number of substantial improvements. For one, his ball-handling skills look crisper than they did over the summer, as he went left or right with his typical explosiveness, but also looked very much under control. His court vision appears to have improved substantially—his teammates looked surprised on a number of occasions by the passes he was able to deliver right into their hands– and he did a much better job running the pick and roll as well.
His attentiveness to playing defense looks better too—he constantly was urging his teammates to “D up!” and he set the tone for them from the very start, coming up with at least a half dozen blocks over the course of the practice. His ability to close out his man never looked more evident than in the 1 on 2 runout drill the players conducted, where Wall was easily able to overcome the substantial initial head-start his matchup had thanks to his blazing speed, often meeting him right at the rim for an emphatic block. His body language and overall maturity level also looked substantially better than it did the last time we saw him—the impression you got from the way he handled himself on the court was very strong this time around. Dave Telep of Scout.com prepared us for this in advance, noting that Wall has “made incredible strides as a person” in a conversation this past week, telling us that he has “come a long way.”
One part of his game that may not have come very far based on results alone is his jump-shot. We charted Wall making just one of the eight jumpers he attempted today, a mid-range pull-up from about 15 feet. Every other shot he took was a miss, sometimes a brick, and a few of them being wide open looks from 17 or 18 feet. The positive thing to note here is that Wall’s shooting mechanics look a lot better than we remember them, as he no longer seems to flail his elbow out. He needs to do a better job getting his legs underneath the ball and add some more arc to his jumper, as well as making sure he releases it consistently every time—but watching him play, you don’t feel like his shot is broke, even if he obviously has a lot of room to improve.
They also had some nice things to say about Kentucky signee Daniel Orton:
Kentucky commit Daniel Orton showed an NBA body, great hands and the ability to finish around the rack as well as step out and make 15-foot jump-shots. He was very fun to watch today in his battles with Villanova commit Mouphtauo Yarou, a raw big man with outstanding potential and an excellent motor. He also showed some emerging back to the basket skills, as well as the ability to face up and knock down a soft jumper. We have a feeling that we’ll be talking about both of these players quite a bit in the next few years.