On the day after he earned his first all-star game selection, Wizards point guard John Wall was still seeing stars as he went about practice Friday, only his focus had nothing to do with the annual showcase event and just about everything to do with preparing for the NBA’s biggest superstar at the moment in Kevin Durant.
Immediately after staying after practice to put up jump shots, Wall made a beeline for the Wizards’ other auxiliary gym to continue another hour of workouts. When he finally made his way to the gaggle of reporters and cameras awaiting his reaction to the all-star game nod, he said he still was humbled yet motivated to do more.
“It feels great,” Wall said. “Let’s you know all the hard times I’ve been through and fighting through injuries and finally got a healthy season, it’s paying off. … I’ve been in the afterglow at home, but today I came here, got my work in, got workouts in and had a great practice, preparing ourselves for a tough game tomorrow against Oklahoma City.”
While the nation’s focus has been on Durant’s gaudy numbers during the month of January, Wall’s stats en route to his all-star selection have also been impressive. Ranked third in the league and first in the Eastern Conference with 8.5 assists per game while averaging a career-best 19.8 points, Wall has made the most of his NBA-high 4,428 touches.
The fourth-year point guard’s deference was evident in his the gratitude he directed toward his teammates for helping him reach one of his career goals.
“It’s a big honor, a humbling experience,” Wall said. “I just want to congratulate my teammates and coaching staff. Without those guys, I wouldn’t be in the opportunity to reach this goal. It’s just shocking.”
Joining Wall in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend on Feb. 14-16 will be Wizards back-court mate Bradley Beal, who was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge. The second-year guard has seen his minutes limited while he recovers from a stress injury in his right leg, placing uncertainty around his participation in the rookie vs. sophomores contest.
Had it not been for the injury that sidelined Beal for nine games, Wall believes that his teammate could have had a legitimate shot at joining him on the East all-star roster.
“I think if he wouldn’t have been injured or we would have keep playing a lot better, he would have an opportunity to be in the same situation,” Wall said. “It’s just great to see him do other things as a player and I’m trying to do the same.”