Before John Wall lets this season slip out of his grasp like a careless pass on a fast break, Wizards Coach Flip Saunders met with his second-year point guard on Monday to implore him not to focus on the problems or pressures of the present and think about the next steps of his career.
“It’s not where we’ve been, it’s where we’re going. This is a great opportunity for you to establish your legacy and where you’re going with it,” Saunders said he told Wall.
Wall is having an admittedly difficult start to his second season. His production is down from last season, averaging just 14.4 points on 35.1 percent shooting with 6.8 rebounds and 3.9 turnovers. He also ranks 178th in player efficiency rating – just ahead of Gordon Hayward and Renaldo Balkman and about nine spots below Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft.
Wall has struggled playing with a supporting cast that can’t shoot but also a desire to do too much in response, which contributes to some out- of-control play at times. After the Wizards lost their eighth game in a row to Minnesota on Sunday in a display of selfish one-on-one play, Wall sounded helpless to the struggles on the team, which is shooting just 39.7 percent and ranks 30th in offensive rating and assists.
“I just try to be the point guard, try to lead people out there on the floor and get everybody involved,” Wall said. “That’s my role, you know what I mean. You find guys when they are open and you don’t turn them down when they are open. Then whatever they do after that when they got the ball, it’s up to the person that’s got it.”
Wall said he didn’t expect this season to be that tough. “It’s not good right now.”
But Saunders told Wall that if the team fails, it reflects more on the two of them. “It’s on everybody,” Saunders said. “Usually what happens, is it’s on the best player and the coach. That’s how usually it goes. And that’s part of the responsibility that we all have, in those types of positions. The positive is, when you’re the best player and it’s on you, you’re usually the one who can help change things around, as well as the coach can. You guys have the most impact to that. That’s something you should relish and look forward to. That’s what he’s looking to do.”