According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, Pat Riley has had a big hand in making John Wall the presumptive first overall pick for the Washington Wizards. And the two have probably never even met.
It was Riley's thuggish teams in the '80s and '90s that helped inspire the NBA to more strictly interpret the rule against hand checking a ball handler, starting in 2002. Before that time, it was much more difficult for a player to drive the lane untouched.
Some have said that the hand check rule has helped perimeter shooters. Bonnell has something else in mind.
Suddenly a team's best ballhandler could go anywhere he wished, virtually unimpeded. Think of Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, he of the non-existent jump shot. Anyone with a speed dribble and change-of-direction could lead a team to the NBA Finals. So every coach in the league screamed, "Get me one of those!"
The hand check rule has made it easier for quick and skilled point guards like Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Chris Paul to find a way to the basket. And the rule has also now virtually guaranteed that the next great quick and skilled point guard will be picked No. 1.
So maybe Wall won't have to work on his jump shot afterall?