John Wall is an open book about his shortcomings. Coach Scott Brooks blasted his defense in a loss to the Toronto Raptors earlier this season, when he sat his point guard down for a film study session together. And recently he revealed that Brooks wanted him to lose weight so he can be a more effecitve two-way player.
Coming off surgeries to both knees May 5, the leaner Wall has gotten has led to better efforts end-to-end for four quarters.
"I have a lot of respect for him. Had the two surgeries over the summer, didn't play basketball, did the work, put the time in to be able to get back in training camp. Then he gained a few pounds in the process," Brooks said. "He's worked hard to get back down to fighting weight. He has been there about the last three or four weeks. The rust is starting to come off of his game."
Wall has been prone to gambling for steals rather than playing position to stay in front of his man. That can lead to seven steals like he had in Wednesday's 109-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets. Or it can lead to breakdowns on the interior and put the bigs out of position in a scramble like it has time and again in a 3-9 start, or in Game 5 of the East semifinals when Al Horford's putback dunk cost the Wizards a 3-2 series lead.
At 6-4, Wall is bigger than point guards such as Steph Curry, Kyle Lowry and Kyrie Irving and every bit as fast. In one of his best performances two seasons ago, he had 10 points and 11 assists in a win over the L.A. Clippers by dominating his matchup with Chris Paul.
Wall had a game-high 25 points and 10 assists vs. Charlotte, but he doesn't have to always turn in performances like that for the Wizards (10-14) to win.
"I like when he impacts the game with his passing and his defensive play," Brooks said. "That gives our team juice and it gives our team passion when he does that. He had a tough challenge last night but he met that challenge with Kemba (Walker). He has to lock in defensively every night. There's no days off in this league, especially at that spot."
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