John Wall caught a pass at halfcourt from Andray Blatche and was ready to take off on a fastbreak. But as he approached the three-point line, center JaVale McGee slowed up. A frustrated Wall implored McGee to keep going toward the basket, but McGee slowly trotted to a halt.
Wall whirled around, avoiding a steal attempt from Chris Singleton, and eventually picked up his dribble. He flippantly tossed the ball to McGee, who made a lazy underhanded pass back to Wall. Shelvin Mack intercepted it, then took off for a dunk before Wall angrily chased him down and slapped the ball against the rim. As he grabbed the rebound, Wall shouted, “Just run ‘Vale. Run!”
Wall then found Blatche under the basket for a layup, but continued to shout at McGee, “Run ‘Vale, I’ll get you open.”
In his second season with the Wizards, Wall has a better grasp of his team, which requires him to be more vocal and demanding of his teammates. He hasn’t been hesitant to correct them on mistakes or expect more of those who should know better. He’s more in command.
“It’s just basically having a year under your belt,” Wall said. “What I’m basically saying is, it’s not trying to get on them because they’re doing something wrong, but just trying to help them. Same way, if I was doing something wrong, I would want someone to yell at me if I was doing something wrong.”
Wall sported a nice cut on his left temple on Tuesday, which he said came as the result of some rough play the previous day. The Wizards have certainly gotten physical during the first five days of camp, with new arrival Ronny Turiaf providing the nastiest block on Monday. Turiaf met Hamady Ndiaye at the rim for a rejection that had Ndiaye landing awkwardly on the floor and leaving practice with his left shoulder covered in ice. Ndiaye was back at practice on Tuesday.
“We’ve been playing physical,” Wall said. “You see H got his shoulder hurt, just people playing hard. We’re just trying to compete and not hurt nobody.”
Wall has had his share of chase-down blocks during camp, lurking behind an unsuspecting teammate — then leaping from behind to swat the ball — showing a commitment on the defensive end.
“John’s been really good as far as getting after it, really concentrating,” Saunders said. “Last year he had problems at times keeping people in front of him. He’s really worked on trying to contain people and put pressure on people. Because he’s healthier, that’s helped him a little bit.”
He’s also taking the responsibility of being a leader. “Knowing the guys, they know I’m going to always play hard,” Wall said. “They can trust me. Trust I’m going to get them the ball. Trust I’m going to play hard. Trust I’m going to try to do the little things to help.”