NBA Injury Report: John Wall Already Participating In Team Practice And Scrimmages
John Wall – Washington Wizards
It has already been more than a year since we last saw Wizards star point guard John Wall razzle and dazzle all over the court. He has yet to play an NBA game since December 2018, and it is obvious that his team is struggling to rack up the wins in his absence. But now that the NBA season has been suspended for probably a couple of months more, there is a growing chance that Wall could still return to the Wizards’ active line-up this season.
Team general manager Tommy Shepard hosted an AMA (ask me anything) session on Reddit, and injected a hint of optimism for Wall’s future.
"We're extremely pleased with John's condition right now, his participation throughout the rehab process has been fantastic. I've never seen him this motivated to make a full recovery. We see John scrimmage with the Go-Go, we see him at practice with the Wizards. And while the rust is still there, there's plenty of signs that point to a full recovery."
The past year has been full of disappointment for the 29-year old playmaker. After notching his 5th straight All-Star appearance during the 2017-18 season, Wall showed that he is already one of the elite point guards in that year’s postseason. They may have bowed out to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2018 Playoffs, but Wall normed a monster stat line of 26.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 11.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in six games.
That series had a lot of people anticipating an MVP season from the 6-foot-4 stalwart. In fact, he was coming off a career-best 37% clip from the three-point line, negating people’s criticisms on his inconsistent long-range marksmanship. But Wall hit a massive roadblock after playing 32 games during the 2018-19 season. He initially suffered a left heel injury, then developed an infection in the incision from the surgery he went through to fix his heel. It would become a double knockout when reports circulated that he slipped in the comforts of his home, resulting into a ruptured left Achilles tendon injury.
After sustaining the Achilles injury, it was also reported that Wall would need at least a year to fully recover. Fast forward to today, he is already past that timeline. His backcourt partner, Bradley Beal, has grown into a fully-fledged superstar as he shoulders a really heavy workload on Washington’s offense.
But despite Sheppard’s optimism regarding Wall’s health status, he and the Wizards organization have always reiterated that there is no chance that the star point guard is returning this season. While there are recent videos capturing Wall doing spectacular dunks, he himself told Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington that those dunks don’t mean that he is already set to play a full NBA game.
“Now you understand how quickly and easily things can be taken away. Everybody was like ‘if he is doing these types of dunks, he can play.’ Well, there’s a lot more to basketball than just dunking. That’s not playing 38-to-40 minutes and then seeing how your body reacts the next day. You won’t know that until you play in a game. So, that’s why I’m not rushing the process and trying to re-injure anything. I’m just taking my time.”
Drafted with the first overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, Wall has grown from just a speedy, athletic guard into a solid shot creator and playmaker. It was in 2017 that he first notched his All-NBA team selection, an excellent indication that his skill set is still improving.
While no one can blame the Wizards front office for giving Wall a max contract extension, the latter’s injury has certainly put a dark cloud on the team’s future. The four-year, $171 million contract kicked in its first year this season, and Wall is set to earn more than $41 million for the next three years. He will be 32 years old by the last year of his contract, when he is slated to receive $47 million. 32 is still not an age of serious decline for NBA players, but given Wall’s long history of injuries, he may be entering the twilight of his career by then.
Furthermore, the Wizards’ roster has always been in question. They have failed to surround Wall and Beal with a roster fit for championship contention. Even more pressing are the speculations that Beal might be on the way out if this trend continues. It is no secret that Beal is already on a superstar level, a stage in his career where he is ready to be the “alpha” of his own squad.
This has also shed some negative light on his backcourt partnership with Wall. With Beal also emerging as a decent facilitator for Washington’s offense, people have discussed that there might be a possibility that this is causing a rift between the two stars. But in a sit-down with The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, Beal assured everyone that this has never been an issue for him and Wall.
“And now here comes the media doing this, ‘Well, who’s the man?’ And for a minute it was kind of, hell, we both felt like we were the man. We weren’t talking about it. But everybody was like, ‘Well, I think Brad feels like the man,’ or ‘I think John might feel like the man.’And so, it actually came to a point where we talked about it. And it was like, ‘I don’t feel like that.’ ‘Well, s—, I don’t feel like that either.’ And it was like, ‘Well, why are we giving that energy because it’s just really affecting us, it’s affecting our locker room.’ And it shouldn’t. Especially when there’s no problems here.”’
As the league is slated to resume probably in June or July, there should be a very big possibility that Wall would don the Wizards threads again this season. Should this scenario materializes, it would be a perfect chance for Wall and the Wizards to gauge if this partnership will still click or if it’s already time to move on and jump ship.
Zach Collins – Portland Trail Blazers
As starting center Jusuf Nurkic went down with a horrible leg injury before the postseason last year, then-sophomore big man Zach Collins was promoted to a greater role. Collins showed his potential in the playoffs as his two-way skill set became a valuable contribution for the Blazers’ surprising run to the Western Conference Finals.
As a mobile and lengthy big man who can run the floor, shoot the ball from long-range and also defend and switch onto multiple positions, expectations were very high for the 22-year old hooper. But three games into the season, Collins injured his left shoulder, requiring him to undergo a surgery.
Fast forward to today, Collins has now made huge strides in his recovery. Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian reported that Zach and the team’s medical staff have always targeted a return this month, although the league recently announced an indefinite suspension of the games. While Collins is yet to join in a full scrimmage with his teammates, Goldberg reported that his individual training has indeed intensified.
“The intensity of his workouts has steadily increased over the last few weeks. While he said that his left shoulder still gets sore when he lift weights, he also said that he can now shoot normally, and even work on hook shots with his left arm, without feeling much, if any, soreness in his left shoulder.
The next step for Collins will be participating in contact drills. He is hopeful that he will be cleared to do that within the next two to three weeks and hopes to return to full practice soon after that.”
As the games are scheduled to resume after a few months, the Blazers will have a good problem on their hands. In an effort to fill in for the vacated position of the injured Nurkic, they traded for defensive big man Hassan Whiteside last summer. Whiteside has put in the work this season, norming massive double-double averages while leading the league in blocks per game. Should the league decides not to cancel the season and just go on with the current schedule, it remains to be seen how head coach Terry Stotts and his coaching staff will rotate the minutes of Nurkic, Whiteside and Collins.