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Wall Week: What Kobe Bryant and other famous NBA Achilles injuries can teach us about John Wall’s recovery

Wall Week: What Kobe Bryant and other famous NBA Achilles injuries can teach us about John Wall’s recovery

This week is Wall Week at NBC Sports Washington. We are rolling out content each day centering around the Wizards' five-time All-Star point guard. Today, we examine how other NBA players have recovered from a ruptured left Achilles...

Wizards guard John Wall is now roughly seven months into his recovery from a ruptured left Achilles, which by most historical measures means he is more than half-way through his rehab. The Wizards, though, have indicated he could miss all of next season. If that scenario plays out, he is only about a third of the way towards returning to action in an NBA game.

There has been a wide variance in recovery times for ruptured Achilles injuries in the past. Most players have taken about 10 to 11 months off. But the time of recovery hasn't necessarily correlated with how successful a player has been once they returned.

Some of the best success stories have involved players returning in 10 months or less. Some of the worst-case scenarios have involved players taking a year or longer.

Here is a breakdown of some of the more notable cases of NBA players tearing their Achilles, including the time they took to recover and how they played following their return...

Kobe Bryant

When: March 2013, Age 34
Recovery time: 240 days
Before: 25.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 45.4 FG%, 33.6 3PT%
After: 18.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 36.6 FG%, 28.5 3PT%

Given he was 34 at the time of the injury, it was predictable Bryant would not return as the same player. Most interesting as it pertains to Wall, though, may be the fact Bryant returned to play only six games the following season. He could have sat out the entire year, but chose to play a handful of games even though the Lakers were en route to a 27-55 finish. Wall and the Wizards may have to face a similar decision in the spring of 2020.

DeMarcus Cousins

When: Jan. 2018, Age 27
Recovery time: 357 days
Before: 21.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 46 FG%, 33.8 3PT%
After: 16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, 48 FG%, 27.4 3PT%

Cousins is a guy Wall will likely lean on throughout his recovery, as he just went through it. The two were college teammates and remain good friends. Cousins, though, is not exactly a success story. Though he returned to play well for the Warriors last season, he subsequently tore his quad and then his ACL. Whether those injuries are related to the Achilles tear is not clear, but the whole saga is something Wall would certainly hope to avoid.

Dominique Wilkins

When: Jan. 1992, Age 32
Recovery time: 283 days
Before: 26.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, 46.9 FG%, 29.7 3PT%
After: 21.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.2 apg, 43.9 FG%, 33.9 3PT%

Wilkins may be the best testimonial for recovering from Achilles surgery. He suffered the injury in his 30s and 27 years ago when sports medicine wasn't as advanced, yet he came back to make two more All-Star and All-NBA teams. He also did so after taking fewer than 10 months off. Wilkins later said this of why he was able to return at such a high level:

“When I came back, people had their doubts, they said I was done and my career was over, but I came back and had my best all-around season of my career,” Wilkins said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It just depends on the person and how driven they are.”

Wesley Matthews

When: March 2015, Age 28
Recovery time: 237
Before: 14.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 44.3 FG%, 39.3 3PT%
After: 12.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 39.6 FG%, 36.8 3PT%

Like Wall, Matthews is a guard and he tore his Achilles at the age of 28. He suffered the injury in March and returned in time for the start of the next season. Fewer than eight months had passed before he was back in an NBA game. Though that could offer optimism for Wall, Matthews hasn't quite been the same player, at least statistically. His efficiency numbers have dropped off.

Rudy Gay

When: Jan. 2017, Age 30
Recovery time: 273 days
Before: 18.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 45.2 FG%, 34.5 3PT%
After: 12.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 49 FG%, 36.8 3PT%

Gay offers one of the best examples of a player who has returned from an Achilles tear. Though he hasn't scored at the same volume that he once did, he is a more efficient player now and a key component of a good Spurs team. Gay has adjusted his game now that he isn't the high-flyer that he once was. Wall may have to evolve a bit himself, depending on how the injury affects his speed.

Chauncey Billups

When: Feb. 2012, Age 35
Recovery time: 296 days
Before: 15.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 2.9 rpg, 41.6 FG%, 38.9 3PT%
After: 6.2 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.5 rpg, 36.5 FG%, 34.1 3PT%

Billups' Achilles injury happened so late in his career that he could have retired, yet he decided to come back to play two more seasons. He only managed to play 41 total games those two years and didn't log nearly as many minutes. The hope with Wall, also a point guard, is that his relative youth will give him a better chance of returning to All-Star form.

Elton Brand

When: Aug. 2007, Age 28
Recovery time: 243 days
Before: 20.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 50.5 FG%, 15.4 3PT%
After: 10.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 48.9 FG%, 0.0 3PT%

Brand returned to play eight more seasons, but was nowhere near the same player. He was a bit undersized for a big man to begin with and losing a step didn't help. The ominous sign to take away from Brand's recovery is that he was 28, the same age as Wall. And he later explained exactly what was missing when he came back:

“I didn’t have the same explosiveness that I had. … I didn’t have it. I had to change my game a little bit where I jumped off two feet, and I was a little bit slower," he said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brandon Jennings

When: Jan. 2015, Age 26
Recovery time: 339 days
Before: 16.6 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.2 rpg, 39.1 FG%, 35.1 3PT%
After: 6.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.3 rpg, 36.3 FG%, 31.6 3PT%

Jennings was an exciting score-first point guard in his 20s when he suffered the injury, just like Wall. And Jennings ended up having a recovery that was on the longer side, as Wall expects to have himself. But unfortunately for Jennings, he was never the same player again. He appeared in only 143 more NBA games (23 with the Wizards in 2016-17) and most recently played in Russia. Jennings lost a step and couldn't adjust his game properly to compensate.

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Can Michael Jordan's Hornets prevent back-to-back wins for the Wizards?

Can Michael Jordan's Hornets prevent back-to-back wins for the Wizards?

Sporting the NBA's most prolific offense and coming off their best win of the year against the Spurs, the Wizards are gunning for their first set of back-to-back wins since March of last season. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

In order to get there, they'll have to get past one of the worst teams in the league in Michael Jordan's Hornets. Charlotte is currently 24th in offensive efficiency, 23rd in defense and has the fourth-worst net rating, getting outscored by nearly eight points per 100 possessions. 

The Wizards' defense has been legitimately awful through the first 12 games of the year, but perhaps the Hornets could be their "get right" game to build some confidence on that end of the floor. 

To do that, they'll need to neutralize Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges. 

Terry Rozier

Rozier broke out in the 2018 playoffs by helping lead the Celtics to the brink of the NBA Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. His follow-up act last season was disastrous. He failed to adjust to a reserve role behind Irving, he ended up shooting 38 percent from the floor and the Celtics, for a multitude of reasons, crashed and burned. 

It became clear that for Rozier to succeed, he needed a team to give him a starting role. That's exactly what the Hornets provided when they signed him to a three-year, $58 million deal to replace Kemba Walker. 

In his first season as a full-time starter, Rozier is averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting a career-high 41 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three. When trying to stop the Hornets' attack, nearly everything begins with Rozier. 

He's not much of a facilitator on pick and rolls, mostly looking to score off the dribble. This isn't something he's great at, because Rozier's a streaky shooter. If the Wizards' defense lets him get comfortable early and some of his pull-up jumpers fall, he could be in line for a 25-plus point night. 

Miles Bridges

Bridges may not be the most polished offensive player yet, scoring most of his points off of activity and athleticism around the rim, but that's the kind of player who could go off against a defense like the Wizards.

He's shooting a modest 36 percent from three on 4.4 attempts per game, so there's not much of an upside to playing off of him to keep the second-year wing out of the paint. The key will be making sure he's accounted for on the offensive glass and getting back on defense after misses to limit transition opportunities. 

Similarly to Rozier, the Wizards need to be mindful not to let Bridges get going early on. If they can keep both out of rhythm early, Washington shouldn't have a tough time with these Hornets. 

Expectations were low coming into the year for the Wizards and seemingly fell even harder after the team limped out to a 2-7 start. However, it's clear this team can score against anyone and if they decide to play even a lick of defense on Friday, they should walk out with a relatively easy win. 

The Wizards and Hornets tip-off Friday night at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

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Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura get a boost on their NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura get a boost on their NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal is lighting up every defense he plays against and NBA 2K20 has taken notice. Though his rating still isn't as high as it should be. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Beal came into the season with an underwhelming 87 overall rating, and after averaging over 30 points per game over the first 12 games of the season, 2K decided to bump him up to 89 overall

Other rating changes included Luka Doncic going from a 90 to a 93, Andrew Wiggins humping from 80 to 84, and Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving each experiencing a drop from 92 to 91. 

Beal has one of the biggest jumps of the batch here, but let's be honest, he should be at least a 90 overall. 

He's leading the most prolific offense in the NBA, putting up career-high scoring numbers on uncharacteristically low shooting percentages and is well on his way to an All-NBA selection. He deserves a spot amongst the NBA's elite. 

Also, Rui Hachimura, who entered the season with a 76 got a small bump to 77 overall. He's started the season strong as one of the leading scorers among all rookies at 13.3 points per game and is starting to prove he's a building block for the Wizards. 

There's plenty of time for Beal and Hachimura to get another boost before the season ends, so if they continue to play the way they have to start the year, Wizards fans should expect Beal in 90s and Hachimura in the 80s before long. 

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