By: Patrick Waring
(Above Photo Courtesy of Noah Graham/Getty Images NBAE)
Basketball never stops.
I’m sure those are the words that Washington Wizards PG John Wall hears in his head nonstop. Oh, I forgot to add All-Star PG to his title.
Fresh off of the Team USA mini-camp in Las Vegas earlier this month, Wall made a quick stop back in D.C., and then headed to Los Angeles to participate in a mini-camp for the Wizards. A camp Wall organized and setup. Not only did Wall tell CSNwashington.com’s Ben Standig about the mini-camp, but he also discussed plans of having the team report to training camp two weeks early. With a young core of Wall, Bradley Beal (going into the last year of his current deal) and Otto Porter, trying to continue to bond and work on their games together should come as great news for coach Randy Wittman and the Wizards. The team also added rookie Kelly Oubre and experienced players Alan Anderson, Gary Neal and Jared Dudley to the mix this offseason. These are things that leaders do. Wall has accepted the role and is looking for success while proving doubters wrong.
Wall learned valuable lessons from playing last season with veteran Paul Pierce. Pierce made a brief, but productive one year stop in Washington last season. The team would once again reach the playoffs, but he was also able to teach his business-like approach to teammates, more importantly, Wall. How to conduct yourself, handle adversity and to push the right buttons to get your message across.
Wall spoke to Pierce’s leadership, but also recognized that it’s his time now. And Wall hasn’t just been talking. He is coming off of his best season and was voted as a starter on the All Star Team. In 79 regular season games, Wall averaged 17.6 points, 10.0 assists (only second to LAC PG Chris Paul) and 4.6 rebounds. The Wizards would go on to sweep the Toronto Raptors in the opening round of the playoffs, but came up short against the Atlanta Hawks in the next round. Wall broke his left wrist after a Game 1 win and ended up missing the next three before returning to action. The Wizards would ultimately lose the series, but it would leave others thinking about what may have happened with a healthy Wall.
Wall has made great strides since being drafted by the Wizards with the first overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft. He has worked on his shot, played with more control and has become one of the better defenders at his position. Dedication to defense earned Wall a spot on last year’s NBA All Defensive 2nd Team.
Wall’s development and growth as a player is something that the city and the franchise desperately needed, also something that had to happen when Wall signed his five-year extension for $80 million in the summer of 2013 (which seems like a major discount compared to deals finalized during this current offseason). Back-to-back playoff appearances and all-star seasons have put the Eastern Conference and other point guards on notice. Wall has continued to work and has become more vocal during games and practices.
He has delivered for this team night after night. Sure, there are parts to his game that he needs to improve on, but he knows that and is continuing to work at it. Wall is looking to lead the Wizards back into the playoffs and past the second round. Day after day and night after night, basketball doesn’t stop and neither will John Wall. He has a job to do and goals to achieve. The team needs it and he wants it. Wall will hit 25 years of age in a week. No longer a youngster to the league, now a leader to a team that’s looking to make moves.
You can follow me on Twitter @WaringPatrick.