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Last Wall still stands tall with draft team Wizards

John Wall.
John Wall.

NEW YORK • When the 2017-18 National Basketball Association (NBA) season begins, John Wall will be the only player from the 2010 draft class to have played his entire career with one team.

This summer, the 26-year-old became a retention unicorn when three other stalwart classmates left their original teams.

Gordon Hayward, the No. 9 pick in 2010, left the Utah Jazz for the Boston Celtics in free agency. Then the Celtics had to trade Avery Bradley, the No. 18 pick, to the Detroit Pistons to make room for Hayward's salary. And Paul George, the No. 10 pick, forced a trade from the Indiana Pacers and wound up with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Seven years ago, Wall was selected No. 1 overall. Now, he is the only one.

In the class before Wall's, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry and DeMar DeRozan are the only one-team wonders from the 2009 draft.

In the class after Wall's, the numbers are better: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Kenneth Faried are still with the teams that acquired them on draft night.

ONE-FRANCHISE MAN

I'm not going to stop until I get a jersey retired in here and a banner here for a championship. So, let's keep it going.

JOHN WALL, Washington Wizards guard, wants to end his playing career with his draft team and have his jersey hung from the rafters.

But even that group faces retention challenges ranging from Irving's recent Cleveland Cavaliers trade demand to Valanciunas and Faried being the subjects of persistent trade rumours.

If you are still wondering why Wall signing a super-max extension matters, let us add another dimension of rarity.

Since the San Antonio Spurs drafted David Robinson as the top pick 28 years ago, can you name how many No. 1 picks have played at least their first 10 seasons with their draft team? Only two: Allen Iverson and Tim Duncan.

Because he signed a four-year, US$170 million (S$231 million) extension recently, Wall has committed to the Wizards for the next five seasons with a sixth-year option.

It is almost certain he will be in Washington through his 12th NBA season, when he will be 31.

Considering that the option year on his new contract is worth US$46.9 million, it is a safe bet that he will be around for the 13th year.

And beyond, Wall says with conviction: "This is the team that I want to be with for the rest of my career, so hopefully we can get that done." Added the four-time All-Star on Friday: "And I'm not going to stop until I get a jersey retired in here and a banner here for a championship. So, let's keep it going."

While the money is a game changer, it is more personal than that for Wall. He knows the young Wizards are a good basketball situation because he helped create it.

It means something to him to be the biggest star on a team who have risen from cellar dwellers to contenders. He does not want to give that up, and he does not want to leave the city he considers his adopted home.

"He has a good heart. He has a caring soul," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks.

Of course, US$170 million does much for the heart and soul, but everything about Wall is authentic.

In an NBA that changes too quickly, it should not be taken for granted that Wall will not be just another shooting star.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2017, with the headline 'Last Wall still stands tall with draft team Wizards'. Print Edition | Subscribe