The tenor of the Wizards’ bench has altered with Scott Brooks in charge, and assistant Sidney Lowe will have a lot of influence on John Wall and Bradley Beal in their quest to get to the next level.
“A lot of times your legacy is built on your winning. I know he competes. I know he wants to win. I recruited him in college,” said Lowe, who was head coach at N.C. State in Raleigh which is Wall's hometown, to CSNmidatlantic.com. “We go way back.”
Wall, of course, chose to attend Kentucky for a year before the Wizards selected him No. 1 overall in 2010.
Beal signed a five-year, $128 million max contract with the Wizards this summer when the salary cap spiked. Wall signed what was a max contract in 2013 at $80 million under a much smaller cap.
While salary doesn’t necessarily make a player a leader, that’s the role/goal the Wizards envision with this backcourt. They can’t just blend in. But in the last few seasons Trevor Ariza, Paul Pierce and Jared Dudley – none of whom was the best player – took on a large share of this responsibility. All three were role players and Ariza admitted he was uncomfortable doing it. It was Ariza in 2013 and Dudley in January of this past season who called the players-only meetings with the locker room in distress.
“I think both of those guys will become those leaders. John certainly has got the demeanor to do it. I think he’s got the attitude to do it,” Lowe said. “But you learn that as you get older. You learn there’s certain ways to lead. You have to really have a feel for your teammates, who you can yell at, who you have to put your arm around, when to talk to them, when not to talk to them. Sometimes leadership is not rah-rah all the time.”
It’s not just in-game behavior but the little things such as arriving at practice ready to go rather than half asleep. That has happened more than a few times. Wall and Beal have been at odds with veteran teammates because of some things they've said but most of them are gone with the roster turnover. Assistant Howard Eisley worked with the guards in the last few seasons under then-coach Randy Wittman and Sam Cassell preceded him.
Wall is coming off surgery to both knees May 5 and might not be ready for training camp. Beal has been recovering from a rough season in which he played a career-low 55 games because of multiple injuries and ailments, but he told CSNmidatlantic.com last week that he envisions a co-leadership role.
“It’s your communication and getting your players to feel good about you. And the way you do that is by you getting them to feel good about themselves,” Lowe said. “There’s something to that. Obviously that’s an area where I can work with and talk to with John and help him out a little bit. I think he’s going to be able to do it. I’m a John Wall fan. I’ve always been. I believe in him.”