Like Rondo did, Wall needs veteran presence

Like Rondo did, Wall needs veteran presence
January 2, 2012, 11:22 pm
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BOSTON Washington point guard John Wall has similar Maserati-like speed on the basketball court akin to another former playmaking stud at the University of Kentucky, Boston's Rajon Rondo.

But in seeing where Rondo is as a player, and where Wall's at, there is one difference that will make it all the more challenging for Wall to develop into an upper echelon point guard like Rondo.

It's experience; no, not his experience but rather, the experience of those around him.

The average Celtic is 28.5 years old, while the average Wizards (0-4) player is 25 years old.

The gap is even wider when you compare the C's starters are 32.6 years of age compared to 25.4 for the Wizards.

For all the growth that we have seen in Rondo's game, it just wouldn't have happened if not for the many veterans he has constantly been surrounded with as a Celtic.

Wall hasn't been so fortunate.

"Rondo really developed his first three years," said Wizards coach Flip Saunders. "You hope that John can continue, as far as doing those things."

But Saunders points out the biggest hurdle that will make Wall's development a lot tougher than Rondo's progress.

"Rondo came into a situation with 3 Hall of Fame players," Saunders said. "(Ray) Allen, (Kevin) Garnett and (Paul) Pierce all all going to be hall of fame players. John didn't walk into that type of situation. John has more pressure on him."

And that pressure has at times gotten the best of Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

Although he is Washington's top scorer at 14.5 points per game, he has been among the many Wizards players struggling to make shots.

He comes into tonight's game shooting just 32 percent from the field.

"He needs to relax a little bit. He's forcing some things," Saunders said. "He wants it so bad. We've always known that; that he has a tendency to get down on himself when things are going bad. He's a perfectionist. And when he's not playing well, he's the hardest on himself, as anybody. He just needs to kind of let happen."

In other words, he's like . . . Rondo.

The two former Wildcats spent some time together on campus this summer, playing in pick-up games.

"He's (Rondo) somebody that knows how to win at this level," Wall told CSNNE.com. "He just learned and got better year by year. That's what I'm trying to do."

Both Saunders and Rondo believe Wall will continue to improve.

He showed signs of getting on track in Boston's 94-86 win, a game in which he had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Wall was good; but Rondo?

Even better.

Not only did Rondo and the C's get the win, but Rondo tallied his first triple-double of the season (14th of his career) with 18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds.

And while Rondo believes in Wall's talent, not having more veterans around him will make his growth as an elite player much tougher.

"I had veteran guys back me up and I played with," Rondo said. "So they've helped me mature as a player each year. Not a knock on the players he's playing with, but having veteran players is big for a young guy. I've been around these guys for four or five years now. I've seen their work habits. I've seen how they've matured and helped me mature as a man."