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All-NBA achievement great for John Wall, his future in D.C., but he wants more

All-NBA achievement great for John Wall, his future in D.C., but he wants more

Before John Wall knew he was an All-NBA player for the first time in his seven-year-career, he concluded “it was a pretty cool season.”

The Wizards fell one game short of their goal of the Eastern Conference finals and one win short of 50 wins. Wall is the franchise's fourth All-NBA third-team selection, joining Gilbert Arenas, Juwan Howard and Bernard King.

Thursday, the league announced he was selected among the top 15 players in the NBA when he was named to the All-NBA third team.

Wall felt he should’ve been All-NBA two years ago, when he had a better season than Kyrie Irving but was left off despite being an All-Star Game starter for the first time. He’ll probably feel like he should’ve been second team.

Isaiah Thomas, who led the Boston Celtics to 53 wins and past the Wizards in a seven-game series, was All-NBA second team ahead of him.

Wall averaged career-highs in points (23.1), assists (10.7), steals (2.0) and field-goal percentage (45.1). He also had 50 double-doubles – 45 more than Thomas.

If Thomas is given extra credit because of his success despite being just 5-foot-9 and a defensive liability, consider Wall had surgeries to both knees on May 5, 2016.

[RELATED: Will Satoransky or Oubre play summer league?]

He wasn’t anywhere near top shape entering training camp in September and began this season with restrictions. He wasn’t supposed to play in back-to-back games until January but sped up the process when the Wizards began 2-8 and were in danger of falling off the cliff.

Wall responded by scoring a career-high 52 points, a career-high 20 assists and knocking down his first game-winning shot in the final five seconds. The Wizards won 17 games in a row at home and won their division for the first time in four decades.

“I have two healthy knees. I don’t have to go through a surgery again,” Wall said during exit interviews earlier this week. “Like I told everybody I banked on myself. After I have surgery I’ll come back a better player and it showed this season. All I can do is use it as motivation going forward.”

Bank is a small but big word. With the 2017 collective bargaining agreement, there’s performance-based criteria for which Wall now qualifies. Instead of being able to get 30% of the salary cap on a new deal, Wall can get a maximum 35% if he were to work out an extension for four more years.

It’s a wrinkle added to the CBA to give teams more of a chance to retain their own free agents.

When Wall signed his current deal, the salary cap was just under $60 million. When the league gets the completed audit of its finances June 30, the cap is expected to be about $101 million for the 2017-18 season.

The piece of the pie is bigger, but Wall seems more likely to ride out his current deal that has two years left and figure out what to do next.

How the Wizards progress will be key to whatever his decision is but he wants to win which means getting deeper than the second round of the playoffs in three of the last four years. He would like to do it in D.C. and this season and his All-NBA selection are at least stepping stones in the right direction.

[RELATED: Beal thinks Wizards could have given Cavs a run for their money]

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes, Travis Thomas and Julie Donaldson reset the series and looked ahead to Game 5.

They were joined by TSN Sports anchor Kayla Grey to find out the Toronto perspective. The Wizards have all the momentum in this series, now they just have to keep it going.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Even after injury-riddled year, Wizards are seeing peak John Wall in playoffs

Even after injury-riddled year, Wizards are seeing peak John Wall in playoffs

You would not have known it by John Wall's towering poster-dunks over Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl in Game 4, or his fourth quarter takeover after Bradley Beal fouled out, but Wall is still technically working his way into midseason form from the left knee surgery that kept him out more than two months down the stretch of the regular season. Add into the equation that he sprained his right ankle in Game 3, then resprained it in Game 4 right after Beal went out, and it's quite clear that what he is doing is simply not normal. 

Throughout Wall's recovery, his head coach Scott Brooks remarked how Wall can regain his form unusually quick following an injury absence. Game 4 was just his eighth game back, yet through four playoff games he is averaging an absurd 26.8 points, 13.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.0 blocks.

If that's what he's doing eight games removed from recovery, and against the top team in the Eastern Conference, what does peak playoff form look like? 

"I told y'all, I told all the media that I only need like three or four games. I really didn't need too many games," he said. "All the hard work that I did in those two months was to prepare myself to be ready for the playoffs."

Wall said he started feeling like himself in his final regular season game, his fourth outing following the injury rehab. It was against the Celtics and he scored 29 points to go along with 12 assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

"I just started to see shots fall down that I was falling short with a couple games before that," Wall said of that night.

Brooks saw a change in Wall against the Cavaliers on April 5, in just his third game back. That game Wall put up 28 points, 14 assists, four rebounds and three steals. Most importantly, he logged 38 minutes.

"I knew I was going to challenge his body with extra minutes," Brooks said. "The way he responded to that, I knew he was back."

Whenever the turning point happened, there is no looking back. Wall has found his groove to not only impact, but at times dominate playoff games against one of the best defensive teams in basketball.

In Game 4 once Beal went down, Wall looked like the best player on the court. He scored eight of the Wizards' final 14 points to seal the victory and did so on a bum ankle. He outshined both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, two All-Star guards.

Wall even played sound defense on DeRozan in big moments. DeRozan shot 10-for-29 in the game.

"I think I did a good job of contesting him," Wall said. "Just do whatever it takes to help this team win."

What Brooks predicted would happen has indeed played out. He has been with Wall for about two years now and knows what the star point guard is made of.

"I've been with him two years, he loves to play," Brooks said, noting there have been some tough conversations to convince him to come out of games.

Consider this: Wall has scored 20 points or more in six straight games, his longest streak of the 2017-18 season. He has actually reached 23 points or more in those six games, which is tied for the longest such streak of his entire career.

Through eight games overall and four games in the playoffs, Wall has reminded everyone of what the Wizards missed. Yes, they went 10-3 when he first went down with the injury in late January, but that was not sustainable.

They need Wall to reach their full potential as a team and especially in the postseason. Late-game situations like in Game 4, when Beal exited and it was tied with 4:58 to play, are when the superstars separate themselves.

Wall did that and now the Wizards are in good shape with the series at 2-2 and having won two straight.

"Blame everything on him," Brooks joked of the Wizards' up-and-down regular season. "If he wasn't hurt, we'd be better, right?"

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