Shanoff's WUC: Wiz Win Wall, Magic Lose All?

Today's Calls: John Wall vs. Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic vs. Oblivion, Lakers vs. 2-0 Series Lead, Flyers vs. Blackhawks, Hanley Ramirez vs. Fredi Gonzalez, NFL vs. PEDs, Chad Ochocinco vs. Erin Andrews and More. ↵

↵John WallThe Opening Pitch: Mr. Wall is coming to Washington. ↵

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↵You have to understand this story from the perspective as a long-suffering Wizards/Bullets fan: No franchise east of the Clippers has mucked things up more over the past 30 years: Bad draft picks, bad trades, bad luck with injuries, bad luck with star players bringing guns into the locker room. Bad luck with Michael Jordan, for gosh sakes. ↵

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↵When the NBA Lottery No. 2 card turned over for the 76ers last night, securing the Wizards the No. 1 pick and the chance to draft John Wall, I jumped around my living room like my Wiz had just won the NBA title — for Wizards fans, it's a close second. ↵

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↵If you aren't going to win a championship — and all but a handful of teams do in any given decade — the next best thing is to be relevant, to have a superstar that people want to watch. ↵

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↵As the most electrifying NBA guard prospect since Allen Iverson, John Wall is that kind of player. Instantly, the Wizards have — if nothing else — cachet. ↵

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↵If you insist on measuring star talent in rings, Wall's cachet alone instantly puts him at the same level as CP3, as Carmelo, as Durant, as Nash, as D12. Heck: As LeBron. All have headliner power — and empty fingers to show for it. ↵

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↵Every team's fans want to win an NBA title. This year, I and other longtime, long-suffering Wiz fans will thrillingly take winning the Lottery. ↵

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↵John Wall vs. Evan Turner? Um, this isn't even a debate. The Wiz should declare their intention to take Wall right now, come to terms with him in advance of the draft and start the marketing. I don't buy that Wall can't play alongside Arenas; frankly, I'd love to see them try — especially since it is unlikely another team wants to trade for Gilbert's remaining $80M contract. ↵

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↵Aaaand, that's the end of the Magic: Not just because they are in a 2-0 hole after two games at home, although that alone is more than enough to consider them finished. No, to add insult to grievous injury, Dwight Howard had arguably his best game as a pro — in his most important game as a pro — and his team still lost. This series is o-v-e-r. The only drama is whether the Celtics can sweep the Magic. ↵

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↵(Bonus: If you are inclined to dislike Vince Carter — and I assume that means most of you — you probably reveled in his missed free throws at the end. But could your glee over VC's chokery justify the wince-worthy prospect of Celtics fans triumphalism by making the NBA Finals?) ↵

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↵Lakers-Suns Game 2: I wouldn't call it "must-win" for the Suns — NBA series famously don't really start until the home team loses — but it would certainly help them earn some mo for a return to PHX by losing by less than, say, 30. ↵

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↵NBA Mock Draft: Wall No. 1, obviously. Turner No. 2, obviously. Favors No. 3, obviously. Then it gets interesting. Because Minnesota doesn't need another 4, the consensus is that they will take Syracuse SF Wes Johnson. At No. 5 in his latest mock, SN's Sean Deveney has the Kings taking Al-Farouq Aminu, with DeMarcus Cousins dropping to the Warriors at No. 6. Deveney has the most intriguing pick of the draft — Butler's Gordon Hayward — going No. 21 to OKC; I think he goes 10+ picks earlier than that. ↵

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↵NBA Lottery losers: The T-wolves dropped to No. 4, ↵after their genius GM David Kahn called it a "three-player draft." The ↵best available player will be Kentucky PF DeMarcus Cousins — too bad ↵the T-wolves already have two solid 4s in Kevin Love and Al Jefferson. ↵

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↵(I think the head-shaking over the Nets dropping from first to third ↵is overblown, simply as a function of exotic new owner Mikhail ↵Prokhorov making his national NBA debut and feeling the Nets' touch, ↵while Ted Leonsis did the same thing with the Wiz and won. The Nets ↵have so many needs that Derrick Favors at No. 3 will be a fine pick, ↵entirely complementary to C Brook Lopez and PG Devin Harris, plus all ↵that cap space.) ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: Nothing typifies the sorry state of the league's coaching development pipeline like the news that the best the 76ers can do is re-tread Doug Collins. ↵

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↵NHL Playoffs: Flyers go up 2-0. Wow, that 0-3 hole in the conference semis feels like years ago, doesn't it? Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are like the Celtics: Up 2-0 before they even make it back to home ice. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: Lollygate, Day 2. Well, the obvious interpretation of the Marlins' blistering win in the absence of benched Hanley Ramirez is that the Fish were rallying around their manager — and sending a message to their teammate. But let's not discount the fact it's a lot easier to make a free-swinging statement when ace Josh Johnson is pitching. For his part, Hanley insists he's no lollygagger, but his defensiveness belies that he might be subconsciously conflicted about how he reacted. ↵

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↵More: ↵

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↵— Hm: Zach Duke beat Roy Halladay? ↵

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↵— More trouble for Mo? ↵

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↵— Good luck with that protest, Yanks ↵

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↵— Today: 47-y.o. vs. 19-y.o. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: I appreciate the dogged reporting about PEDs in the NFL — the kind you won't see from, say, NFL reporters — but is it really news that a doctor is accused of giving players PEDs? Isn't there already a presumption by fans that there is a pervasive PED culture in the NFL? And we have decided we don't really care? ↵

↵CFB Offseason: Florida's $2.66 million for its assistants is a bargain, especially if they are taking on added responsibility as Urban Meyer tries to change his management style. (I'm a big believer that elite college football coaches — and that extends to assistants — are undervalued.) ↵

↵Big Ten Expansion: If this process is going to take another 12-18 months, let's stop following it every day as if something is going to happen at any moment. ↵

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↵Pop Culture: Erin Andrews is on to the finals of "Dancing with the Stars," competing against Olympic skating champ Evan Lysacek and singer Nicole Scherzinger. Alas, Chad Ochocinco was bounced out last night. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Let's all say a little prayer for Manute Bol's health. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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