- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wizards point guard John Wall just completed a stellar rookie season, one which often makes coach Flip Saunders think of his days with the Minnesota Timberwolves, when he was coaching a young Kevin Garnett.

During his final postgame interview of the season, Saunders talked about the similarities between the two players and why he thinks that Wall could become just as big a star as Garnett.

“They have the same competitiveness, theyre both perfectionists, theyre not satisfied very easily,” Saunders said.

“They both have great respect for the game, and theyre both freaks of talent in their own way. KG was a freak because he didnt want to be a 7-footer, so hed say he was 6-foot-13. He could play any position on the floor and he was multidimensional.

John has a unique talent in that he has unbelievable speed and size. What people overlook is that he averaged 16 points, over eight assists, top 10 in steals [this season], but he almost averaged five rebounds per game. As a rookie, thats a lot.”

Saunders also compared the leadership skills of the outspoken Garnett to Wall, noting the progress Wall made during the season and how he learned to become more vocal himself.

“If you were around John late, the last three weeks [of the season], you could just see his leadership even more so around the team,” Saunders said.

“As a leader, he did a good job demanding on the bench that we play a certain way, getting on players when they didnt play that way. I think that through the summer and into training camp next year, hell take it up to another level.”

Garnett, who spent 12 seasons with the Timberwolves before being traded to the Boston Celtics in July 2007, is a 14-time All-Star who was named MVP of the 2003 All-Star Game, won league MVP in 2004, and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Garnett finally earned his championship ring with the Celtics in 2008. Saunders expects no less from Wall.

“Surrounded with the right people,” Saunders said, “they [Wall and Garnett] are both the kind of players that will take you to the top.”