For the Washington Wizards success, the formula is quite simple: let John Wall control the game. Without Wall, the Wizards would just be another team in the NBA that struggles to get to 25 wins each season. So when the news broke this summer that he was having two knee procedures that were claimed to be “minor,” it was still a huge cause for concern.
Originally, there were questions if he’d be ready by the regular season opener on Oct. 27 in Atlanta. Once the first few days of training camp passed, there was optimism that Wall would be a go by then. Nobody thought he would get any time in the preseason games, not only for precautionary reasons but because they didn’t think he would make that quick of progress.
Wall is one of those freak athletes that can play through and shake off injuries quicker than most, and this one was no different. He put all of the worries to rest of whether or not he’d be ready by Oct. 27 by playing in the third preseason game against the New York Knicks.
In 16 minutes, Wall recorded eight points, four assists, three rebounds, and one steal in the 90-88 loss. The team was less concerned with the final score and more worried about how Wall’s knees would react to the speed of the game.
Wall’s performance was consistent with what we’ve seen from him the past two years, which is slicing defenses with his penetration and executing the pick-and-roll situations with Marcin Gortat to perfection for easy layups.
Gortat told the Washington Post following the game:
“Offensively you can always catch the rhythm. You might need a game [or] two or three to get your rhythm and find those sweet spots, to get the chemistry going,” Gortat said before the Wizards’ game Monday night against the New York Knicks. “Obviously me and John, this is our fourth year together. I can read him like an open book. He knows what I’m going to do. We don’t have to worry about that.”
The Wizards are one of the most difficult teams to predict record-wise due to the heavy weight on injuries. If Bradley Beal or Wall sustain an injury that keeps them sidelined even for a few weeks, it could mean ultimately missing the playoffs for the second-straight season. Historically, Beal has been the main culprit with catching the injury bug, but no on the roster can clone Wall’s presence on the floor.
Trey Burke was the starter for the first two preseason games as Wall rested. While there were some stints throughout the game where Burke showed he could add some positives for this team off the bench this season, there were also issues with his pace and decision-making. Tomas Satoranksy has also been battling for minutes at point guard. His 6’7″ frame gives him the immediate advantage on the majority of point guards, but with this being his first season in the NBA, he’ll have a lot to learn.
Gortat again spoke to the Washington Post on the two back-ups:
“Obviously playing with Tomas might be a little bit different because we are European and we kind of understand what we want, but playing with Trey is a completely different thing,” Gortat said. “Trey is first a scoring guard, then a passing guard. So yeah, it’s going to be a challenge for us. It’s going to be a challenge to learn to play together.”
The good news is, Wall is back. He felt good. He looked good. And because of it, the Wizards will look to get off on the right foot as the regular season continues to loom closer.