His shimmying crossover dribble and other deceptive, tricky moves all came naturally and instinctually for Wall, with no prior practice involved. The injury, however, has forced him to find other ways to expand his game and improve without running and jumping being a part of the equation yet.
“Not playing basketball, period, is tough,” Wall said this week. “This is my first time really being out for a long time and not being able to come back. But it’s something you’ve got to deal with and take your time and come back healthy.”
Wall appears to be on course for a return by the end of the month after visiting with a doctor and receiving what Coach Randy Wittman said was a “positive report.”
“Everything is looking [good], going in the right direction,” Wittman said of Wall’s MRI exam. “Big difference from the last one, showing the healing and everything.”
Wall discovered the problem in late September, when he visited orthopedic specialist David Altchek in New York. The Wizards projected that he would miss at least eight weeks. While those close to him have hoped that he could return by Nov. 30 in New York, Wall said he doesn’t have a scheduled return in his mind.
“No target at all,” Wall said, shaking his head. “No. I wish I did.”
Wittman stressed that it is important to remain cautious with Wall, especially with so much of the season, and the franchise’s future for that matter, hinging on his contributions. Wall, the top overall pick in 2010, has averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 assists in his first two seasons.
“Even though I want him back, it doesn’t do him any good or us any good if it’s not the right time,” Wittman said as the Wizards (0-3) prepare to host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. “You’ve got to make sure he’s right before we ever think about that.”
Wall played all 66 games last season but missed 13 games as a rookie after developing foot problems and a bone bruise under his right kneecap.
Looking back, Wall said he probably should’ve taken longer before coming back in his first season, since he didn’t play at the level he expected and finished a distant runner-up to Blake Griffin for rookie of the year. He doesn’t want to rush back and aggravate the injury, especially with Altchek warning him during the diagnosis of the risk of a stress fracture without the appropriate rest.
“I learned my first year listen to my body more than my heart,” Wall said. “I came back injured but I still came back okay, but I didn’t come back the way I wanted to. I know to take my time this time.”