John Wall hasn't had the best pro career thus far after being drafted number one out of Kentucky two years ago. He's highly turnover-prone with a pretty bad jump shot, he's a mediocre defender, he plays out of control, and he hasn't been able to vault the Wizards out of the cellar. It was clear that, two years ago, he was the better prospect than Evan Turner, and that's why ET fell to the Sixers at 2. It's been said numerous times on this blog and elsewhere that it's a good thing we didn't get the #1, and weren't (essentially) forced to take Wall because he was there.
To this day, that isn't true. John Wall was, and is, the best player to come out of the 2010 NBA Draft. Greg Monroe has been surprisingly great, Ed Davis has shown potential, Gordon Hayward is adorable, DeMarcus Cousins seems like a smart guy, but J-Wall is definitely the tits of the class. If you've forgotten what made him so good coming out of school, read this Draft Express profile of him to refresh your memory. Whether he ever realizes his otherworldly potential is one thing, but the fact is, based on talent and results from his freshman year at UK, he was the guy everyone would have picked at the top spot.
Jrue Holiday, meanwhile, came off an unfortunate freshman season at UCLA the year before where he played off-guard to senior Darren Collison's wait-you're-still-here point. He fell all the way to the Sixers at #17, who opted for size and defense over the quickness and scoring of UNC stud Ty Lawson. The 2009 Year of the Point Guard has been highly debated, but there's no question that the Sixers got tremendous value with their pick, even if Lawson (extremely debatable) may have/still will be the better player.
What I just wanted to take a quick second to comment on, and get your thoughts about, was the idea that, in retrospect, it's good that the Sixers didn't come away from last year's draft with John Wall. Evan Turner, who hasn't been stellar in his first 1.25 seasons but has shown marked improvement and the potential to be a very good basketball player, was the better takeaway because he plays a different position and has not been as high-volume ineffective as Wall has been thus far. This, also, is not true. Turner could be great. I love him and hope to whatever basketball gods exist that he becomes Paul Pierce/Brandon Roy/whatever and wins a bunch of rings and happily ever after, etc. Same with Jrue. He's lovely, he has a ton of potential on the court, and he's got nowhere to go but up in spite of a not-so-great start to the 2012 season.
But make no mistake about it. If the Sixers got the #1 pick, they would have drafted Wall, and it would have been the right decision. Whether or not Holiday would have been traded or moved to off-guard or kept as a backup, we'll never know. Holiday had been coming off a nice rookie campaign that didn't really ask much of him but immediately made him the lovechild of all Sixers fans, especially us. But he hadn't shown nearly enough to pass up on a prospect whose potential matched, or in some places surpassed, that of Derrick Rose. And I'm saying this now in spite of the fact that, statistically, Jrue has bested Wall in every area short of Assist Rate. I would still trade either Jrue or Evan straight up for Wall, and would give serious consideration to trading both of them for him (although ultimately decline). Please try not to be blinded by your Sixers fandom when you think about these players. In terms of ability, it's not close.
Wall has unfortunately been placed on one of the worst teams in the league, with virtually no chemistry, defense, or collective IQ to speak of. He's surrounded by high volume shooters (Nick Young), idiots (Andray Blatche), and people named Shelvin (Mack), which is unfortunate because he's still a once-in-a-decade talent that can do things on a basketball court only 3 or 4 people can do in the world. Hopefully, for his sake, the Wizards can build a decent team around the kid at some point. At age 21, he shouldn't be forced to carry this kind of load. Turner doesn't have a shred of the responsibility Wall carries each time on the court and that's a very good thing for him.
If you're looking at the first two seasons of John Wall's career and declaring him a bad draft pick, or thanking our lucky stars that we don't have him, write yourself a letter to be opened in three years. See how you still feel about it then. The fact is, as much as we can joke about it, the NBA is a superstar's league. Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner will never be the best players in their positions, even if they become great players.
John Wall does have that potential. He's a franchise player in a time where the Point Guard Renaissance has never been flourishing more. Combining his ability to get to the rim with his tremendous passing skills, there's still a good chance that he finds himself in company with Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Derrick Rose. And to think that he's not worth that gamble because the Sixers already had a point guard who had averaged 8 points and 4 assists is extremely short-sighted homerism.