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11 months removed from Achilles surgery, John Wall is clearing major milestones in his recovery

11 months removed from Achilles surgery, John Wall is clearing major milestones in his recovery

WASHINGTON -- This Sunday, Jan. 12 is a significant milestone in Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall's recovery from the surgery he had to repair his ruptured left Achilles tendon.

It will mark 11 months since he had the procedure, for which an 11-to-15 month rehab timeline is generally prescribed. Though the Wizards have preached patience throughout Wall's road back, giving all indications he may not even play this season at all, it remains an important mile-marker for his injury.

In conversations with multiple people within the Wizards' organization who are familiar with his recovery, the message remains the same. The Wizards are prepared for the event Wall does not return this season, though they will ultimately not rule out the possibility.

The latest for Wall, NBC Sports Washington has learned, is playing in three-on-three scrimmages against members of the player development staff. He began those drills earlier this week.

It's a notable step in Wall's recovery, which had recently progressed from running and dunking to one-on-one contact drills with coaches. He has been traveling with the Wizards and going through pregame warm-up routines both at home and away games.

Wall's latest milestone is being monitored closely. The team gives him two-to-three days off between the three-on-three sessions. And they take further precaution by holding him out of Wizards shootarounds, which he could technically participate in at this point.

How long Wall will remain out from here is still not certain, but one thing has been made abundantly clear and that is the team's success will have no bearing on his timeline. That goes both ways. If the Wizards start building momentum towards qualifying for the playoffs, the team will not take that into consideration and bring him back sooner than they otherwise would. And conversely, if they fade further out of the postseason mix, it does not mean Wall is less likely to return this season.

"I don't know if he's going to play this year. I don't know if he's not going to play," head coach Scott Brooks told NBC Sports Washington. "I just know that he's going to take every day and make the best of it. When you do that, you eventually come back the way you need to be."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has said on numerous occasions the Wizards are not paying much attention to the calendar when it comes to Wall's rehab. They want to take every extra precaution possible to ensure his long-term health and the investment they have made in him with a supermax contract worth $170 million that kicked in this season.

But keeping Wall out for this entire season would push his recovery timeline to 20 total months if he were to then return at the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign. That is an unusually long period of time for the injury he had, nearly twice as long as other players have required.

That reality led to the team being denied a disabled player exception for Wall this season. An independent doctor was unable to determine he would be out until at least June of this year.
Wall has also put his progress on display publicly by working out before games. He has thrown down a series of dunks that make it seem like he is not too far away from returning.

The most direct comments on his expected return date, however, came from chairman Ted Leonsis over the summer. At a press conference, Leonsis declared Wall would "probably won't play at all" this season. Many members of the organization, including coaches and players, are operating as if they won't have Wall back this season.

"It's moving in the right direction. We don't know one way or another," Brooks said. "We just know that he's relentless in his work and he's diligent in his treatments and his rehab. You've gotta pile those days with a one-day-at-a-time mentality."

There is another element worth mentioning. Wall took time off to grieve the passing of his mother in December and that adjusted his timeline slightly. He was away from the team and had to then ramp his work-outs up again.

Perhaps that can alter the way the 11-to-15 month timeline is viewed. Either way, Wall is entering territory where a return can soon be expected more often than not.

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Jerome Robinson's shot the latest young player success story for the Wizards

Jerome Robinson's shot the latest young player success story for the Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have become the land of opportunity, a place where second chances are given to NBA players too young to be considered reclamation projects. 

Shooting guard Jerome Robinson is the latest to be thrown into the mix. He was the 13th overall pick in 2018, but couldn't get minutes with the L.A. Clippers. Now he's in Washington with an opportunity that wasn't there for him when he was at the end of the bench on a title contender.

The Wizards, though, have a place and a role for him and that translated to the biggest shot of his NBA career on Wednesday night, as he made a go-ahead three with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift Washington to a 110-106 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

“I had a really good look. At that point, when I saw it was wide-open, I had to take it," Robinson said. "At that point you just got to have all the confidence and let it go.”

Robinson sank the three, then on the next possession reeled in a rebound and made two free throws after getting fouled. All within about 10 seconds, he made three plays to give the Wizards the win.

But the shot stands out above all and it was a unique situation for a player of his level of experience. Star shooting guard Bradley Beal passed him the ball and in doing so showed a lot of trust in a player who hasn't proven much at the NBA level.

Robinson, though, didn't look like he was new to the moment. He knocked it down like a pro.

"Jerome didn't hesitate," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He has a tendency to hesitate and I'm telling them, 'he who hesitates doesn’t make shots.' I like that. He caught it, had confidence, he took the shot."

Being too timid with his shots is apparently a thing for Robinson. Brooks wasn't the only one who mentioned it.

"We've been telling him all night...it was a few where he was hesitating. We didn't bring him over here for no reason," Beal said. "If Coach [Scott Brooks] has you on the floor there's a reason you're out here."

“I remember the coaches were telling him [not to hesitate] and you have to shoot if you’re open," forward Rui Hachimura said. "We know he’s a good shooter. The last minutes, the last play, he didn’t hesitate, that’s why I think he made it.”

Robinson, 23, is still trying to build confidence, holding career averages of 36.6 percent shooting from the field and 30.7 percent from three. It is understandable why he would be a little unsure of himself when taking shots.

But after Wednesday, he has reason to believe. The Wizards gave them an opportunity and he seized it.

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Bradley Beal trusting Jerome Robinson to win game vs. Nets spoke volumes

Bradley Beal trusting Jerome Robinson to win game vs. Nets spoke volumes

WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal had scored 50-plus points in his previous two games. He had 30 on Wednesday night against the Nets, including 17 in the fourth quarter alone. If he chose to dribble his way out of the double-team and launch a hero-ball shot in the closing seconds, no one would have blamed him.

He is a star player having the best stretch of his basketball life. Why wouldn't he take the shot?

Well, he didn't. Instead of trying to win the game himself, Beal saw his teammate, Jerome Robinson, wide open on the wing. Robinson, just 23 and in his second year, hasn't proven much at the NBA level yet despite being a 2018 first round pick.

But he was open and passing to him for the open look made basketball sense, even if it required fighting off the urge to be the alpha dog. Fortunately for Beal and the Wizards, Robinson came through as the unlikely hero, as the Wizards knocked off the Nets, 110-106, to snap a three-game losing streak.

Robinson not only made the three to put the Wizards up two points, he then grabbed a rebound on the next play and sank two free throws to seal the win.

"Big props to Brad, trusting his teammates. That tells you what kind of person he is," Robinson said.

Beal is a two-time All-Star currently second in the NBA in scoring, averaging 30.1 points per game. But he has long taken pride in being an unselfish player, the type who fits seamlessly into a team-oriented system.

Sometimes that means taking what the defense gives him and Beal felt the Nets' approach dictated his decision. He had Garrett Temple, a scrappy defender, facing him up with Caris LeVert sprinting his way. That left Robinson in space.

"I'm not going to chuck it up from 45 when I've got two, three people running at me," Beal said. "I've got wide open teammates. Win, lose or draw, I'm always going to trust guys who are wide open."

Head coach Scott Brooks pointed out afterward how Beal made a similar play in the game before, when the Wizards lost in overtime to the Milwaukee Bucks. At the end of regulation, he passed to rookie Rui Hachimura under the basket and Hachimura was blocked by Robin Lopez.

The results were different, but two games in a row Beal showed faith in a young and inexperienced teammate. Hachimura, though already a standout, is a rookie. Robinson, a second-year player, has yet to find a niche in the NBA and was cast off by the Clippers in a trade just weeks ago.

Also helping the cause on Wednesday was the fact Beal has become a much better playmaker in recent years. This season he is averaging a career-high six assists per game and has improved that number now in four straight years.

Brooks believes he has adapted with All-Star point guard John Wall out due to injuries.

"It was three years ago by an unfortunate injury. John was out [and] missed 41 games that year and last year he missed 50 games. Brad has had a lot of reps [because] eams are going to double team him," Brooks said.

In the middle of a career-best hot streak, a lot of NBA players would have taken the shot. But Beal made the right basketball play and it led to a Wizards win.

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