Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks recently called out John Wall for being one of the worst defenders on the team.
The NBA is different than college and high school hoops because the talent is immeasurably higher. The players – virtually every single one in the league – were once considered the “top dogs” before getting drafted.
Once the players get to the NBA, it’s almost impossible to separate themselves from the rest. But once they do, a hierarchy is immediately formed in the locker room. The amount of money each player gets paid usually indicates their level of talent.
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Ultimately, that’s the primary difference between the NBA and the rest of the levels of basketball.
The dynamic is completely different. A coach, for instance, is going to have a difficult time calling out his star player, who makes more than three times his salary.
There aren’t a lot of teams in the NBA that have that coach; the one who’s willing to call out the top player for the sake of improving the team.
Randy Wittman wasn’t that coach for the Washington Wizards. He favored players, often deciding to point out the faults of others while leaving a select few aside.
Scott Brooks is a different coach. After agreeing to a five-year deal with the team in the off-season, Brooks has leverage that most coaches in the NBA don’t.
That’s why he’s able to call out his stars in film sessions.
Wall’s willingness to stake his value upon his defense already has been tested. In the team’s first film session after its home-opening loss to the Raptors, Brooks pointed out several times where Wall either didn’t sprint back on defense or failed to sit down in a defensive stance. He underscored it all by calling Wall the worst defender on the team “by far.”
“I’m like, ‘Damn, I do look like the worst defender. I can’t say nothing back.’ It’s going to make me a better player and a better person.”
As a former second team All-NBA defender, Wall has all the physical tools to lock opposing players down. He’s arguably the quickest player in the world, has length and the strength to be an elite defender. But for some reason, he hasn’t fully developed on that side of the ball.
Wall is often caught sleeping and gets toasted by players that he should have field days against. Point guards aren’t asked to anchor a defense, but as the team’s leader, Wall sets the example for the rest of the roster.
Currently, the Washington Wizards are in the bottom half of the league defensively.
The All-Star point guard isn’t the worst defender on the team, but Brooks obviously knows how to light a fire under someone’s butt.
He’s been in the NBA as a player, has shared the court alongside Hall-of-Famers and has coached future legends. If there’s someone whose opinion should be valued, it’s Brooks’.
Wall still has a long way to go before he reaches elite status defensively, but at least he has a coach who’s not afraid to call him out. The team needs to regain their toughness defensively and it’s going to start with the franchise player. Brooks, at least, understands that.