- Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN Staff Writer
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John Wall's professional debut began with a little throat-clearing, but once the Washington Wizards point guard got into the flow of the game, he commandeered the court. We asked some of those in attendance for their impressions of Wall's 24-point, 8-assist, 8-turnover performance:
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John Wall: "A completely different kind of player."
Daniele Baiesi, former general manager Angelico Biella
When he picks up speed on the floor, he's unstoppable. He's a freak of nature for being 19-years-old. Today, there were a lot of expectations. The gym was packed, so everyone wanted to see the show. Whatever you see on the floor today won't be the exact truth. But whenever you see the kind of leadership skills he showed in his college year, you can expect him to lead an NBA franchise with no problem. He makes his teammates better because he puts them into a rhythm. He's a completely different kind of player. He also makes a huge defensive impact with his wingspan and athleticism.
David Blatt, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Russian national team head coach
Any player coming from college is going to have an adjustment period. Guys as talented as him will go through a shorter learning curve, even at his young age. I thought he did a pretty good job out here tonight, better than some of the first picks I've seen in the past. His future is very, very bright. For me as a coach, I like that he plays with his head up. He has a calm about him. He doesn't rush things. He makes mistakes but he doesn't allow the last play to bother the next play. I think that's very important, particularly for a player at his position. He has star quality. I think he's going to be a top-level player. It might take him longer than people think, but his talent is obvious.
Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks head coach
He has fantastic ability and tremendous upside. He's a different version of Derrick Rose, a little different kind of player, a little different body type and a little different style of play. They both have a great ability to defend. As they learn more, they'll both get better and better. Wall is a little longer athletically and maybe a little more of a scorer.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raports swingman
On the fast break, he's very effective. You see his speed, but you also see how strong he is. Once he gets more comfortable running an NBA team, I think he's going to be good. On defense, we haven't seen him guard anyone like Steve Nash or Chris Paul, so he's really going to get tested when the season starts.
Jimmy Goldstein, NBA superfan
It's pretty obvious he has such phenomenal speed. It's really exciting to see him dribble the ball down the court. His jump shot has a long way to go -- it's suspect at this point -- but he's such a phenomenal athlete, and I'm very excited about the prospect of watching him play.
Sam Hinkie, Houston Rockets vice president of basketball operations
So far, so good. You see the same kind of speed you saw in college. The advantage of that speed is only going to be amplified in the NBA with its spacing and his ability to get out in the open floor with even better finishers. Like any young player, there's a lot to work on, but you don't have to watch him very long to see how special he is for that position. Defensively, like most young players, he's better on the ball than off. There's no reason to believe he shouldn't be fine, and there's every reason to believe he should be very good.
Jarrett Jack, Toronto Raptors point guard
He started off a little shaky, but that's highly expected for his first NBA-style game. He played better as the game went on. He was able to be a little more aggressive and helped his team. He's best when he's in transition, so the best way to defend him is to try not to let him get a full head of steam and make him beat you from the perimeter.
Dean Oliver, Denver Nuggets director of quantitative analysis
The scouts were right. He's good. I thought it took him a little while to figure out the guys he was playing with, but that's not too much of a surprise. He's going to figure that out over the course of a season -- he figured it out over the course of a game. Defensively, I think he's going to be fine. He's got all the length and he can stay with guys. I'm not worried about any of that.
John Thompson, former Georgetown coach
I liked his attentiveness to the coaching staff. It goes without saying that he's faster than a speeding bullet. He's super-quick with the basketball, but he also showed poise. I think he's unlimited and a lot of it will depend on how much he continues to work and develop himself. But he's got special potential. This is the first time I've watched him this close. I was extremely impressed with how fast he was with the basketball. Also, a lot of players are offensively fast but defensively slow. But he's pretty quick defensively. There's something real special there.
Patty Mills brought a lot of life to the court for Portland. He filled up the box score with 12 points, nine assists, seven rebounds against only two turnovers. With a little space courtesy of a pair of early high screens, he was able to drain a couple of 3s in the first half. Throughout the game, he made smart decisions in transition, both finding seams for himself and directing traffic for his runners. In the third quarter, Mills sniffed out a pretty give-and-go with Dante Cunningham on the right side: perfect entry pass, perfect cut, perfect finis. The play earned a demonstrative fist pump by Cunningham on the return trip downcourt. Defensively, his quick hands wreaked havoc on the Rockets' ball handlers, as Mills racked up a bunch of deflections.
New Orleans first-round draft pick Craig Brackins struggled on Sunday, but the breadth of his game still holds appeal. He can do a little bit of everything which, judging from his indecisiveness on the floor, might be the problem here in Las Vegas. Because he was dealt from Oklahoma City -- a deal that wasn't official until last week -- Brackins had only one practice before taking the floor for the Hornets squad. "Craig has an NBA skill set as an offensive player: his ability to shoot the ball, his ability to face the basket and be effective, outstanding athletic ability, lateral mobility. These are all traits we think will allow him to be successful," Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said. "The thing with young players is, the quicker they can find a source of confidence in one aspect of their game, the quicker they become a factor." According to Bower, scoring the ball from mid-range and working the offensive glass are where Brackins can begin to build that confidence. "In these first experiences, focus on your strengths, get them established, feel good about them, understand your environment, then we'll address areas of the game we feel can be expanded."
David Thorpe on Portland rookie Luke Babbitt: "He's very comfortable as a scorer. He knows he has many option to choose from to get the ball in the bucket. He plays the game with a great pace -- not unlike James Harden. That allows him to let plays develop. He's going to be very effective in his shot-fake attack game."
Rob Mahoney on Denver's Coby Karl: "There's no real reason why Coby Karl wouldn't be able to compete on an NBA level, yet somehow, under guise of flawed skills and limited athleticism, he's doomed to the horrid middle ground between D-League stud and NBA role player. It's not a fun place to be, but there are so many capable wings that can technically do what Karl does. They just don't. Coby has the right skills and makes the right plays, with the perfect package for a complementary player. He doesn't step outside of himself and makes excellent decisions. For a guy vying for a spot on the back end of an NBA roster, that's huge."
Sebastian Pruiti offers up some video of Austin Daye's increasing confidence as a playmaker and scorer. Fearlessness is a trait developed over time for a young player, particularly one as slight of build as Daye was when he entered the league last season. Daye has bulked up -- both physically and mentally.
Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball catalogs the slew of Wisconsin Badgers present at summer league this year: "Those gritty Badgers with their swing offense and suffocating defense aren’t thought of as an NBA factory the way Kentucky or North Carolina are. But that didn’t serve as a deterrent to the franchises that added Marcus Landry (Knicks), Trevon Hughes (Rockets), Joe Krabbenhoft (Blazers), Brian Butch (Nuggets, though his summer league stint has ended prematurely due to injury) and Greg Stiemsma (T-Wolves) to their summer rosters."
Summer league fan uni watch: Jake Tsakalidis Grizzlies jersey (Hat Tip: Rob Mahoney)
John Wall's professional debut began with a little throat-clearing, but once the Washington Wizards point guard got into the flow of the game, he commandeered the court.