Seemingly from the day he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2010 until his Achilles injury in 2018, the Wizards were John Wall's team.
But life changes fast in the NBA, and in the two years Wall has been out recovering, Bradley Beal has ascended as one of the best scorers in the NBA. He's coming off a year in which he averaged over 30 points and six assists per game and with two years left on his contract, the Wizards have committed to building around him.
With those comments coming in parallel with remarks from the Wizards front office about their enthusiasm for Wall's return, those developments surprised Wall, per NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, though he understands Beal's rise as a legitimate No. 1 option on offense.
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard addressed his team's stance on building around Beal Wednesday morning with Kevin Sheehan of 980 The Team, explaining how it wouldn't be fair for the Wizards not to prioritize Beal just because Wall is coming back from an extended absence.
"When I say we're building around [Beal], John's been away for two years, it'd be unfair to say, 'Hey this is John's team.' Bradley's put in the work, he's been available, John didn't ask to be injured but the NBA marches on."
It's a harsh reality for Wall, who was coming off a career-year in 2016-17 before going down with an Achilles injury mid-way through the 2017-18 season.
Still, Sheppard expressed his confidence in Wall's ability heading into the upcoming campaign.
"Nothing marginalizes a player like an injury. I know what John can do, I know what he's capable of. I feel when he comes back he'll be a huge impact player for us, Scotty Brooks has already said he's the No. 1 pick in this draft for us. But with Bradley, he's such a dynamic scorer, he's really a two-way player he's a fantastic defender when he doesn't have to carry the load for 48 minutes and shoot every shot and guard the other team's very best player."
The anticipation surrounding Wall's return grows by the day -- and every time there's a new video of him playing pickup -- and if the Wizards' sole focus is to make life easier on Beal, they'll need Wall in a big way, regardless of who's team it is.
"We're trying to lighten the load on [Beal] and maximize his efficiency out on the floor and having someone like John come back into the fold will make that so much easier."