- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. — John Wall’s All-Star weekend begins on Friday night with the Rising Stars Challenge and continues on Saturday night with the Skills Competition. But Wall would be the first to admit that what he’d really like to be a part of happens on Sunday night — the All-Star game.

Wall’s talent indicates that someday, he probably will be. Until then, some of the league’s best talked about Wall and a few other topics during media day at All-Star Weekend.

Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the biggest name on the trade block, says he wants to play with an elite point guard, and Williams appears to be at the top of the list. Williams deftly avoided the subject.

“Dwight who?” Williams joked, after the umpteenth reference to Howard. Asked who he’d pay money to see play, Williams didn’t hesitate.

“LeBron James. He’s the most exciting player to me. He’s so versatile, he plays so many positions, he does everything well. He does everything great.”

As for his thoughts on Wall, Williams said Wall’s in a tough spot these days.

“I think he’s a great point guard. He’s in a tough situation right now. The team is not doing that well, and there’s a lot of pressure on him being the No. 1 pick. But I think he’s having a great season, he’s progressed a lot, I think he’s getting better. You can see he’s hungry to get better.”

As for Wall’s game, Williams sees a lot of positives.

“He’s very explosive, exciting to watch. I also think he’s a pass-first point guard. I think he has to shoot a lot, is forced to do a lot because of his team. Once he gets a lot of pieces around him, I think you’ll see his game flourish even more because he’ll have more weapons around him.”

Williams also had some words for wisdom for Wall, who he says is a lot like him.

“Just keep your head up. Things will get better. I know he’s motivated. I saw his comments after being picked 12th for the rookie-sophomore game. He’s similar to me. I feel like if I get slighted or feel doubted, I want to prove myself, and I think he’s the same type of kid.”

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics:

Asked about the toughest on-on-one matchup in the league, Rondo didn’t hesitate.

“Kevin Durant. He’s 7-feet tall. Usually 7-footers aren’t able to move as quickly as he can. He can draw the foul, move end to end, and he’s got a good first step.”

Rondo admitted he might be biased, but gave his vote for the most clutch players in the game to Celtics teammates Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

As for Wall, Rondo likes his development and his signature move.

“He’s getting better every year, that’s the key. You don’t want to judge yourself off of other players as long as you’re getting better and continue to get better. That’s what I think he’s doing. His team isn’t doing well, but he’s a young guy, and he’s got to continue to stay positive. If he does that, you never know what can happen.

“I would tell him to stay hungry and stay in love with just getting better. And he’s got a great spin move.”

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

“He’s aggressive,” Westbrook said of Wall.

“He’s a very aggressive, talented guy. He always competes. He’s doing his job, trying to help his team win. He took a big step in that win over us [Jan. 18]. I’d tell him to continue to play and try to get better, regardless of all the losing. There are ways to get better, even when you’re losing.”

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Asked to build the perfect point guard, Paul did a little mixing and matching.

“You’d want the size of D-Will [Deron Williams], to dribble like me or Steve Nash, the explosiveness and speed of Derrick Rose and the athletic ability of Russell Westbrook.”

And where would Wall fit on Paul’s list?

“He’s getting there. They’re not winning as much as he’d like, but as he continues to get better, watches film, it’s only going to help. I’d tell him to keep working. Work while everybody else is sleeping.

“Being here at All-Star weekend will help motivate him too. When you play in the rookie-sophomore game and you get a chance to see the All-Star game on Sunday, it motivates you to want to play in it.”

Wall couldn’t agree more.

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