“What happened for Derrick Rose, the balls dropped right and he went to a good team as the No. 1 pick,” said Calipari, who also coached Rose at Memphis. “But it didn’t happen for John. It’s going to be rough on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, going to Charlotte [as the second overall pick this year]. You’re going to get them to 40 wins? Okay. It’s all a tough road. And then they put it on you, like you’re the guy that’s supposed to change it. There is no one player in the NBA that can do it.”
Wall hired trainer Rob McClanaghan, who helped Rose become the league’s youngest MVP ever in his third season and also worked with Oklahoma City all-star point guard Russell Westbrook. Wall focused on staying balanced with his jump shots, taking pull-up jumpers in transition and making sharp cuts — skills that have made Rose and Westbrook two of the league’s toughest matchups. Wall also added 10 pounds of muscle.
With the Wizards overhauling their roster in the past nine months, Wall is now the team’s longest-tenured player, and he will be looked upon for more than just numbers when he returns. He wants to win and said he would like to be the “savior” for a Wizards franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since President Obama was first elected.
“I’m the leader of this team and I’m the guy that leads, but I’m not saying I got to do everything every night,” Wall said. “I’ve got other pieces out there to help me out, but I want to be the leader and let guys know I’m willing to do whatever it takes to take the step in my game and for the team to keep going.”
Wall still believes the Wizards will be able to compete while he’s gone. They signed Jannero Pargo on Monday and will look to A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack as other point guard options in the interim.
“They are not going to be expected to do the things I do. It’s once in a lifetime for people like that and I’m blessed,” Wall said, “but I believe in my teammates, I trust those guys and I believe they can win games.”
Wall said his injury came as the result of the “wear and tear” of working out. He didn’t participate in the voluntary workouts last month as a precautionary measure and has been using his spare time playing video games and sleeping because he can’t play basketball or even bowl, his second-favorite activity.
“It’s tough. Just try to keep positive people around me. Try to stay positive, don’t think negative,” Wall said, while hinting that he hopes to return sooner than expected. “Luckily I’m young. Hopefully, I can heal quicker than it takes for older people.”