Kidd has transformed from a speed demon whose jumper was so nonexistent early in his career that he was sometimes called “Ason,” because he didn’t have a “J.” On the back end of a career that began when Wall was 3 years old, the 39-year-old Kidd has blossomed into a dangerous threat from beyond the three-point line. He stressed that Wall, 22, has time to discover a consistent shot and should focus on pace and tempo until it comes.
“When you have the strength of speed, it’s your job to use it,” said Kidd, who claimed he never possessed Wall’s speed. “He can get it to sixth gear and he’s as fast as anybody with the ball. If you don’t trust [your shot], it takes time, trial and error. When you see the success, you start to understand it’s not always about being in sixth gear. I think it’s just a matter of knowing when to use the gears and knowing, ‘I can be just as fast as anybody if I’m in fourth or fifth gear.’ ”
‘I’m having fun, man’
Wall believes that the time he spent observing from the bench the first 33 games helped him gain a better perspective about how he could influence the game and run the team.
“It’s a development process for me. I learned how to change pace, when to attack, when not to attack and get my teammates involved,” said Wall, who is averaging 14.6 points, 6.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds in just 27.8 minutes. “Not being fully in shape and being able to play right away and it was tough to not have my rhythm, but I’m having fun, man.”
Calipari said Wall is clearly “playing with a chip on his shoulder” after becoming forgotten or dismissed while sitting out with injury and advised him to “just keep leading. Keep learning how to lead, how to move people, how to take responsibility.”
Wall’s injury perhaps denied him the opportunity to help take the Wizards to the playoffs and allowed other up-and-comers to grab the spotlight this season. But Johnson said Wall can’t concern himself with what’s behind him.
“That always happens, when you get hurt, you’re out, people are going to forget,” Johnson said. “Then there is somebody else new. So they pay attention to whoever it is, Kyrie [Irving], Jrue Holiday, all those guys now get the publicity, so what he’s got to do is just get healthy. Don’t worry about that. His game will take care of everything else.
“He has to help these guys understand, he’s here to win,” Johnson continued. “Make this franchise into a winner and I think John is ready for that. He has the talent. That’s not the issue. We know he has the heart for it and he’s a gym rat, so you have those things going for you.”