John Wall’s second season came close to being delayed by another year, as NBA owners and players waited until late November to salvage a 66-game season. Though he wasn’t pleased to lose almost 20 percent of his salary for the upcoming season, Wall did find a way to take advantage of the extended offseason.
Wall had the opportunity to heal and study the mistakes of a rookie season that proved to be even more challenging than he anticipated. He entered the NBA during an era when point guard – not center or power forward – is the marquee position and took his lumps as he matched up against Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, or even less-heralded players such as Raymond Felton or D.J. Augustin.
“I knew it was going to be hard because you think of it, at the time that I came in, there are a lot of great point guards, and everybody was getting to their peak and mainly in their second, third, fourth year and so most of those guys is veteran, they knew what to do and how to play the game,” Wall said. “I know when you’re a rookie, they’re especially going to attack you. They want to see if you belong here. I knew what to expect. They just played better at times and they knew the game better than me.”
His instincts and athleticism helped him hold his own and finish with one of the best statistical seasons ever for a rookie point guard, despite dealing with injuries to his foot and knees.
After taking time to get healthy, Wall also tried to figure out how he could be more aggressive and he took it out on opponents around the league during dozens of summer pro-am league games and charity exhibitions.
“You can’t really watch too much film throughout the season to study it so I had five, six months to watch a lot of film and study what I did wrong and how I can play against certain players, and you just take that into consideration for the next season,” Wall said. “Mainly the whole time this summer, I was just studying a lot of film on how I played and what I did wrong and what you can work on and how you can take advantage of certain plays. This year can be fun. I’m a veteran now, not a big-time veteran but I’m in my second year so I know a lot more than what I did last year.”
Wall also knows that he’s excited to have an opportunity to play this season. He said two months ago that if the players were going to accept a 50-50 split that they should do it before checks were lost. But since he always thought the situation wouldn’t get resolved until January, Wall offered a shrug when asked what took so long.
“If you took it early, you wouldn’t have lost no money, but that’s what you save for,” Wall said. “That’s why you don’t go out and splurge, and I think, even though we got a deal done and some people lost a little bit of money here and there – it’s not all about that. But I think it really challenged us to know that you’ve got to learn how to save money. You never know what can happen in this world.”