Wizards Hoping for All-Star Invites
Every year in mid-February, the NBA’s biggest stars, most dynamic high-flyers, smoothest shooters, and best young players gather for the NBA’s All-Star weekend. The star-lit event showcases the best the league has to offer to a worldwide audience. The jam-packed weekend offers three days full of fun, excitement, and of course, the game of basketball.
While the event provides the league’s best a platform to show off their talent, when invitations were sent out the past two seasons, the Wizards were noticeably left out. All-Star appearances were common place earlier in the decade when the team even sent multiple representatives on four occasions, but the Wizards were one of just five teams to not receive a bid to any event last year. To add insult to injury, the Wizards were the only team in the NBA to be shutout of All-Star weekend over the last two years.
“It would mean a great deal,” said Nick Young on having his teammates participate in All-Star weekend. “We haven’t had anyone at All-Star weekend since my rookie year and things haven’t gone exactly how we want them to. We are trying to change the program and to have some guys representing us during the All-Star break would be great.”
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Wizards will most assuredly break their dubious streak this season with John Wall, a Rookie of the Year candidate, all but guaranteed a spot in the Rookie-Sophomore challenge.
Although Wall’s invite seems academic at this point, his quickness, speed and ball-handling also liken him as a perfect fit for the NBA Skills competition.
“Of course he should be in it,” said Andray Blatche. “He has a large set of skills, his passing, quickness and agility, so he’d be great for that competition.”
Wall’s skill set can best be shown in a play that many consider to be his most memorable moment of the season Following a basket by the Cavs Mo Williams with just 2.1 seconds remaining in the first half, Wall caught a pass around his own free throw line and went coast to coast in the blink of an eye, slamming the ball home the instant the first half clock expired. Replays showed that Wall was just milliseconds late, but the play was one that truly will not be forgotten by fans or teammates for a long time.
“Oh yes he’s the fastest player in the league,” said Nick Young on Wall. “Man that play showed it right there. I have never seen anything like that. That was great. He seemed like Usain Bolt with the basketball. He’s a fast player and that proved it right there. I think he’s the top and I don’t think there’s anyone with him right now.”
Josh Howard, a seven-year NBA veteran, echoed Young’s sentiments.
“Yes he’s the fastest guy in the league with the basketball that I can see and I’ve been around some fast point guards and seen them all. He’s up there with Chris Paul, Devin Harris and Jason Kidd, which is a pretty big compliment to him.”
Nick Young is just one of Wall’s teammates who think that his skill set should translate to him not only participating in the skills competition, but most likely winning it if he is invited.
“He would definitely take it home. He’s so good he could take it home with his eyes closed. He’s a great passer, he’s fast and his ball-handling is great, so yeah I definitely think he would win it,” said Young.
While Wall’s participation would be wonderful for both him and the team, surely the rookie would love to be able to share in the experience with one of his teammates. Fortunately for Wall, there are two guys who are more than willing to join him in Los Angeles as participants in this year’s slam dunk contest, Nick Young and JaVale McGee.
“Making it would mean a lot to me,” said McGee. “I’ve always wanted to be in the dunk contest and I feel like I have some dunks people haven’t seen before, especially from a 7-footer. So I feel that it would make for a very exciting dunk contest if I was in it.”
At 7’0 with a 7’7 wingspan and a vertical that is off the charts for any 7-footer in recent history, McGee has the ability to finish above the rim from seemingly anywhere on the court, at any time. Great dunkers typically have a signature play, and for McGee that came in the second game of the season when he posterized former dunk champ and shot block specialist Josh Smith with a towering dunk that won NBA.com’s play of the day.
“He’s the most athletic big man I’ve ever played with,” said Howard. “His talent is amazing. I think being in the dunk contest would be a good thing for him, especially the exposure of course, and I mean Dwight Howard isn’t the only freak of nature out there. I’ve seen JaVale do some things that I think a lot of people would be surprised to see him do. Hopefully they’ll give him that chance to go out there and do it.”
While McGee’s size lends himself to some great in-game highlights, Nick Young has had a few jaw-dropping dunks of his own including a 360 degree behind-the-back dunk from his college days that has made YouTube lore.
“You know I have something up my sleeve. I got one dunk on YouTube, but I have a lot more. I’ll just go into my trick box and pull some stuff out. This year it’s in my hometown of LA so I really want to be in it this year,” said Young.
The Wizards will now wait and see if their skills and style lead to the invitations they undoubtedly deserve.