John Wall will get the chance to go head-to-head with another one of his contemporaries at point guard when the Wizards host all-star point guard Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday at Verizon Center.
Lillard was among the young point guards that Team USA selected for its pool of 28 players to try out for international competitions through 2016. Since the team was announced, Wall has already helped shut down Golden State All-Star starting point guard Stephen Curry – another member of the pool – but said he wouldn’t get caught up in an individual duel with Lillard.
The challenge of containing Lillard, however, will be the same.
“You got to go over screens because they both have unlimited range,” Wall said about Lillard, comparing him to the Curry. “I just try to make it tough. Try to make him get to the basket and finish over those (big) guys and trust our help. I’ll take it on as a challenge and I’m not going to make it a one-on-one battle.”
Lillard, the reigning rookie of the year, and Wall were both named to the all-star team for the first time this season and are both Adidas endorsers. The two became close last summer while touring through China with their shoe company and participating in USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas. The duo had intended on working out with Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton but could never get their schedules to work out. Wall expects that to be different this summer.
“It definitely will this summer. Last summer was so busy for me, with us being with Adidas,” Wall said. “The way the season is going for both of us it’ll probably be even busier this summer and we’ll be on the same trips again. Hopefully, we can find an opportunity to get out there and learn some things from him.”
Martell Webster had the chance to work out with Lillard over the summer and came away impressed by his competitiveness. “That kid’s got a chip on his shoulder. I got to hang out with him last summer. he’s agood kid and he just wants to win. John is very competitive as well, so this is going to be very amazing matchup tonight. Two high flying all-star guards and a consistent player, an all-star player in LaMarcus Aldridge as well, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Webster started his career in Portland but has never seen his former teammate Aldridge playing at such a high level. Aldridge is averaging career highs of 24.4 points and 11.6 rebounds. “No. No. only on TV. He’s gotten better consistently, every year he’s been in the league,” Webster said of Aldridge. “I don’t see him slowing down any time soon. Same with Damian.”
The Wizards (23-23) have won two straight close games against the Portland Trail Blazers, but a third consecutive win could finally put the team above .500. Trevor Booker is out for personal reasons.
(TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: