Washington Wizards superstar John W#all cleared hurdles recently, then Tommy Sheppard confirmed he won’t play in the 2019-20 campaign. It’s the right move.
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) February 3, 2020
And just recently the biggest news of all: John Wall is playing 5-on-5 basketball.
John Wall is in Miami with the #Wizards and told me he spent the afternoon playing 5-on-5 with… Amar’e Stoudemire (!) at a local gym inside a hotel.
This is a significant step in Wall’s Achilles’ rehabilitation. However, still don’t expect him to play this season.
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) January 22, 2020
So, he looks ready, he’s practicing in full, there have been no complications, and the Washington Wizards sit just 3 games outside of a playoff berth. He’s coming back, right??? Not so fast.
On Friday, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard confirmed that John Wall would indeed sit the rest of the 2019-20 season.
“I think we have maintained that all along. We didn’t plan on seeing him this year. I think that’s fair to John, to manage the expectations for him,” Sheppard said. “He’s on his way, but he’s not there and he’s not close yet. He’s a lot closer than he was a year ago when the injury happened.”
This news comes as a blow to those that thought the Wizards had a real chance at making waves in the playoffs, and to basketball fans everywhere as one of the best talents in the NBA won’t grace the hardwood. So Wizards fans are justified in being upset.
However, sitting Wall is 100 percent the right move in this situation. If we rush John Wall back, what’s the best scenario? Maybe we rise to the 5th or 6th seed (unlikely as we’d have to win 14 more games than the Philadelphia 76ers over our final 31 games, but possible), but we couldn’t expect much more and probably end with worse.
That best case scenario, by the way, would earn us a playoff dance with the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat and there are still glaring holes in our roster’s makeup. I personally do not see us winning either of those series, or even one against the 76ers if it came to that.
The other side of this is the benefits of sitting John Wall and Bradley Beal. Both should sit to close out the season and here’s why: the development of younger players and roster evaluation.
I truly believe that even if we sit our all-star back court, this team has the talent to sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. And that would be neat but it would also mean that the younger talent on this roster has progressed and is the right group to surround a returning John Wall next season.
I’ve written extensively about how I think Wall won’t be quite what he was before the Achilles injury when he returns, but adding Wall is going to be a boon no matter what. It certainly won’t make us worse.
So if the team is good enough to snag 8th sans Wall, and the younger guys develop nicely, adding Wall will put us over the top. And that seems to be the plan.
If we add Wall now, we’re actually doing ourselves a disservice. And if we continue to play Beal, I’d argue it’s the same thing. If we sit them instead and take skilled players away from the roster this season, it’s addition by subtraction.
You force the younger players to shoulder the scoring load, and they either take a step forward or they don’t.
Sitting Wall (and Beal) would also help us determine what exactly we have with the rest of the roster. How can you get a good look at newly acquired Shabazz Napier or Jerome Robinson if you have to play Wall & Beal 60+ minutes each game?
How would you get a look at Troy Brown as a potential leader with Beal and Wall on the same floor? You can’t really judge a guy in 15 minutes a game and you can’t test a guy if you surround him with proven talent.
While bringing Wall back might increase the win tally this season, the much smarter long-term play is exactly what Tommy Sheppard and the Wiz front office are doing: Sit John Wall.
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