When asked if he felt fans understood the challenges he faced in coming back, Wall said: “I don’t think so. I think they see me as the number one pick, and I’m supposed to just come out here and be spectacular every night.”
In many ways, Wall felt the same about his game, believing that he had to live up to another standard despite playing on a team and under a scheme that doesn’t require him to carry a heavy scoring burden.
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“I’m not a wannabe scoring point guard all the time. I like to get my teammates involved first and try to score when I have to,” Wall said. “It’s kind of crazy, because the way the league is going, every point guard is a scorer. You’ve got Kyrie [Irving]. You’ve got Damian Lillard. Those young guys coming up, scoring right out the bat. You got guys like Russell [Westbrook] who’s been doing it a while, and Derrick [Rose], but all I want to do is keep getting better. My game is still developing on the offensive end, but I can do more things to help my team win.”
Wall admitted he had been pressing when he hit a rough patch around the all-star break and forced the action offensively, which led to more mistakes and more stress. Before he cracked completely, his mother, Frances Pulley, came up from Raleigh, N.C., for the first time in nearly two months. She made her patented sweet tea, gave him a much-needed home-cooked meal of shrimp, fish and cabbage, and provided the same feedback as his teammates and coaches.
“Keep playing, fight through it, you know. It’s a tough time that you’re going through. And every game is not going to be perfect,” Wall said she told him. “It’s kind of like hitting the rookie wall. I felt kind of so frustrated because the games we lost was games that I had the opportunity to step up and do something big. I just had to take the blame on myself and move forward, come out and keep playing aggressive.”
Beal has been on a surge since the beginning of the calendar year but landed awkwardly after jumping to contest an expected shot by 76ers all-star guard Jrue Holiday. With a fourth-quarter go-to option no longer around, one who already has a game-winning jumper under his belt, Wall was forced to be more assertive. But that also required him to show some faith in his unpolished jumper.
“He has great confidence,” Wittman said, “and that’s what you have to have obviously, at this level and it came through. It was a stepping stone. He’s making the strides now.”