"Who is Gilbert Arenas?"
That was a question several people in Washington DC were asking on the day the Washington Wizards signed the former Golden State Warrior. Arenas had just won the most improved player award but he was a relatively unknown player, specifically to the east coast. In 2003 he was heading into his 3rd NBA season, under the radar.
"Who is John Wall?"
That was a question several people asked when Wall was a top high school recruit in 2009. When he hadn't won a single college basketball game let alone even been on campus for 1 day. After that season, Wall was headed to Kentucky to be a part of a college Dream Team. As soon as he played for Kentucky, the few basketball-heads who didn't read about that year's recruit class now knew who he was. Above the radar, the moon.
In the offseason before Gilbert Arenas' third NBA season, he was flipping a coin and signing a contract with the Washington Wizards, coming off of a great year where he won the NBA's most improved player award. Arenas spent that summer hanging out at home playing video games, and going to the gym at 4am to shoot hundreds of jumpers.
In the offseason before John Wall's third NBA season, his potential to improve is coming into question and he is coming off a season where statistically he didn't improve one bit. John Wall is spending his summer hanging out with guys like Ludacris, Kevin Hart, and Floyd Mayweather. (and presumably also shooting hundreds of jumpers).
How hard does each guy have to work? Nobody knew Gilbert's name. He had to die to become known. He earned his fame. John Wall is already known. What does a guy have to work for if he is already living the life of the rich and famous?
That is what makes 2012-13 a make or break year for John Wall. This is the year he has to shut people up who are writing about his offseason life. This is the year he has to make the most famous thing about him his basketball skill, not his dancing skill. This is the year he has to improve statistically as well as mature as a leader. He has to prove that he has something to work for and that he isn't going to accept his life as a superstar. (Kim Kardashian is famous too and she never did anything).
In 2011-12 Wall's points per game (16.3) were down by a tenth of a point, and his turnovers (3.9) up by the same margin. He had less rebounds (4.5), less steals (1.4) and less assists (8.0) as well. (also by a very small margin). Wall's 3 point shooting was atrocious (7%) but his overall field goal percentage went up a tad (42%).
That is unacceptable for a #1 pick. Young players should be improving. For example, Gilbert Arenas' scoring for the first years of his career gradually improved from 10.9ppg to 29.3ppg in just 5 seasons.
This year is John Wall's for the taking. If it is another year of the same stuff, then the Wizards organization will have to ask themselves if they chose the right guy to build the team around. The organization, his coaches, his teammates, and most fans believe in him. Hopefully he can believe in himself just as much.