All signs seem positive in John Wall's recovery from arthroscopic left knee surgery, as over the weekend he went through full 30-minute workout on the court before the Wizards took on the Miami Heat.
He took shots, he stretched and even ran. This Wednesday will mark six weeks since he had the procedure and the initial timeline was six-to-eight weeks.
Wall still has several milestones to reach. He hasn't practiced, though that could happen very soon. He will need to work his way up to 5-on-5 scrimmages and along the way be cleared for contact.
PODCAST: TOMAS SATORANSKY GOES 1-ON-1
With light at the end of the tunnel, the question of how many games Wall will play by the end of the regular season is coming into focus. The Wizards are on track to make the playoffs and not only want Wall back, they want him at his best. That likely will not happen immediately when he returns.
Like any player coming back from an extended absence, Wall will need to play himself into game shape. All the calisthenics and time on the exercise bike can only get him to a certain point. The same goes for game simulation in practice. Nothing quite compares to live NBA action.
The problem is that the Wizards' regular season is nearing its close. There are only 15 games remaining.
The Wizards have three games this week and three games the next. If he comes back in two weeks, he will have nine games to work with.
There is an important factor to consider in all of this. Of the Wizards' final seven games, six are part of back-to-back sets. Head coach Scott Brooks said recently that it's likely Wall will be on a minutes restriction when he returns and could be limited in back-to-backs.
Given the recent history of how the team has handled injured players and specifcially Wall and knee issues, it's plausible he is only allowed to play in one out of two games in back-to-backs. In that case, Wall returning with nine games left would actually mean six or seven. And those first few games could include minutes restrictions.
NBC Sports Washington analyst Tony Massenburg, who played 13 seasons in the NBA, said on the Wizards Extra podcast he thinks it usually takes about five-to-seven games for an NBA player to get his conditioning and rhythm back. If Wall misses two more weeks and has restrictions when he returns, he will bump right up against that threshold.
RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS
Massenburg's timeline makes sense if you look back at how Wall played when he returned earlier this season from platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment on his left knee. He averaged just 14.2 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 35.5 percent from the field in his first five games. He then posted double-doubles in the next three.
The good news is that the Wizards have played relatively well without Wall. Though they have lost four of six, they are 12-7 since he went down. They don't need to rush him back and that is the most important aspect of all of this.
But it is getting close to the point where it's fair to wonder how much time Wall will have before the postseason begins. It's one thing to be playing catch-up in the regular season. It's a completely different task when done in the playoffs.
NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!