Popovich praises Wall's growth, compares to Tony Parker

Popovich praises Wall's growth, compares to Tony Parker
February 7, 2014, 11:45 am
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When looking for John Wall comparisons, Tony Parker isn't always the first point guard that comes to mind. That is unless you're Gregg Popovich.

Both All-Star playmakers are quick to the point of being almost unfair when attacking the lane. However, Wall's superior and freakier athleticism brings to mind a healthy Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo more than Parker's under-the-rim stylings.

The clearer connection comes when we view both guards early in their careers. Specifically, with the ball in their hands, the shot clock winding down and an open jumper there for the taking. Typically, for Wall and Parker, that meant an awkward moment of indecision.

The best parts of the respective games involved blowing past defenders off the dribble, not firing from long range. Yet the progress of a single play might put them in position where the final move involved them doing just that.

Everyone in town has noted Wall's outside struggles, particularly from 3-point range. This season, Popovich and the opposing NBA coaches are noting those struggles are not so common anymore. Wall is shooting 32.8 percent (57 of 174) on 3-point tries this season.

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That won't get him into the All-Star weekend contest, though that clip is Bradley Beal-esque compared to Wall's first three seasons. Let's not forget he finished 3 of 42 in his second campaign. 

Let's also note we're not simply talking about 3's, but any jumper from distance. Anyway, similar to Parker's evolution with the Spurs, Wall's true upgrade isn't the percentage, but the confidence.

"He's worked on his shot, obviously," Popovich said of Wall before Wednesday's game, eventually won by San Antonio in double overtime. "He feels more comfortable shooting the shot where in the past he might have shots but he'd shy away from it.

"Tony was the same in the beginning and you can't do that. If that's the guy with the open shot, you got to take it. The clock winds down, you're not going to get a better one. [Wall is] more confident in shooting the basketball."

Pregame Popovich also noted Wall's improvement running the offense, the team.

"He's sharing the ball much better now with all his teammates. He understands, like other great players, that you have to do it together. He trusts his teammates a lot more than he ever did before."

More gushing came postgame. Wall had 29 points including six during the final 10.9 seconds of the first overtime to force the extra session along with nine assists. Parked did not play in the second half with a back injury.

“I don't know what else I can say about the guy," Popovich said of Wall. "You know, what I said before the game and just now, I mean he's turned into a leader on the floor. He understands situations on the court, he presses his teammates, he's aggressive and takes on the responsibility to score and to find somebody for a good opportunity. This year is a huge jump for him I think.”