Stan Van Gundy likes many pieces on the Wizards roster, one that, in the opinion of the former NBA coach, lacks a franchise player.
Yes, Van Gundy is aware of John Wall's existence.
Recently a spate of critiques suggested the dynamic point guard, who missed the opening 33 games this season with a knee injury, does not belong among the NBA's young elite talent or questioned whether the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft has already reached his ceiling. While in the D.C area last week, the former Orlando Magic head coach and current television analyst spoke exclusively with CSNwashington about Wall's potential, the notion of building a franchise around the third-year playmaker's skill set and other Wizards-related topics.
Van Gundy recently commented on Wall's game and limitations. The evaluation, captured here, lumped the NBC Sports analyst in with those other naysayers, though Van Gundy does not believe his opinion of Wall's overall game is a negative one.
"I said this: John Wall is a talented guy, a very good player. I don't think he's good enough that you can build a franchise around him," Van Gundy said after serving as television analyst for George Mason's home game against Drexel last Thursday night. "I don't think he can be your best player, certainly not clearly your best player. You need one guy better than him or a couple of guys at his talent level for them to win.
"To me that's not a negative. I didn't say it as a negative. I think some people took it that way. I just don't see John Wall as a franchise player because - a lot like Rajon Rondo; I don't see him as a franchise player even though he's an All-Star - he's not a good enough shooter yet and he's not a reliable go-to scorer.
"In the NBA, your franchise guy has got to be a guy you can put the ball in his hands late in the game and he can get you a basket. I don't see that from John Wall at this point in his career. Maybe it will develop, but I don't see it."
Concerns about Wall's perimeter shooting are nothing new. They do, however, remain the one obvious flaw in his otherwise high-impact game.
For his career, the 6-foot-4 guard is a career 41.7 percent shooter, but that accuracy mark is robust compared to his 22.6 percent clip from beyond the 3-point arc.
After launching 115 3-pointers as a rookie, Wall dramatically and wisely cut down on his 3-point attempts, just 11 in 14 games this season. But his shooting percentage anywhere outside of the paint lags. This season on shots at the rim, Wall is at 59.7 percent (37 of 62). From anywhere outside of 3-feet, 33.0 percent (38 of 115). Of those 11 3-point attempts, he made one.
Those numbers on anything but a layup stand as an improvement over his previous season's effort. In 66 games last season from the same range, Wall knocked down only 28.5 percent of his jump shots.
Asked this week about Wall's perimeter shot, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, "I think it's coming along. John is still in the process of getting himself to where it needs to be from stamina, being in shape. I've seen a good adjustment from the perimeter."
Shooting is one area players seemingly can improve themselves over a career with diligence. Jason Kidd, who will square off against Wall when the Wizards host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, shot 27 percent from 3-point range on 257 attempts as a rookie. Several more clanking seasons followed, but now the 18-year veteran is a 35 percent shooter from beyond the arc. From 2007-10, Kidd shot over 40 percent in each of his first three seasons with Dallas.
As for whether Wall's current stroke and touch is fixable to that extent, Van Gundy is uncertain, though he acknowledged the Wizards' guard has been hurt by the lack of high-end scorers around him.
"It's hard to tell," Van Gundy said. "There are unique guys; Rondo has learned to play - even though he hasn't become a real good shooter. Then again, Rondo has played with Ray Allen, until this year, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. He didn't have to be that go-to guy. That's what I'm saying.
"To me, [Wall] can be your starting point guard and be your leader on a good team, but he can't be the franchise guy. They're going to need to surround him with guys like Paul Pierce or a Dwyane Wade or a Kobe Bryant. A scorer is going to have to surround him for them to really make a rise in the NBA. I don't think he can carry the load."
Since his return from injury, Wall has helped carry the Wizards into a winning situation, certainly compared to the team's dreadful start. Since Wall's season debut on Jan. 12, the Wizards are 7-7. Without Wall, a dismal 5-28.
"Obviously I give him a lot of credit," Van Gundy said of Wall's impact.
"But I don't think Randy Wittman and the rest of the players have gotten enough credit for one thing: they were, without John Wall, one of the worst offensive teams in recent NBA years. But, they were a Top-10 defensive all year. What that did was lay down the foundation that when they got more offensive help they had a chance to compete. If John Wall had come back and they were still a bad defensive team, which they had been [in previous seasons], they wouldn't be able to play over .500 basketball."