It’s been five weeks since John Wall underwent surgery on his left knee. Over that time, he’s walked with crutches then without, promoted corporate partners in interviews and events, attended All-Star Weekend, wore funky sunglasses on the Washington Wizards’ sideline and donned a referee’s stripes to officiate a contest involving Special Olympics athletes. These are mere crumbs from his public movements, but behind closed doors Wall’s five-week rehabilitation appears to be moving along in a manner the Wizards predicted.
Wall has spent much of the last month in the Wizards’ weight room focusing on his conditioning, but this week he added a new wrinkle, on-court shooting. On Wednesday morning, Wall completed his second shooting drill since undergoing arthroscopic debridement Jan. 31.
Coach Scott Brooks, who watched the workout, said Wall attempted jumpers and moved side to side from different locations on the court. The act of lofting low-impact jump shots inside a practice facility may not seem like much, but this work, as the next step in the rehab process, impressed Brooks.
“Shoot and move 10 feet over and shoot the next spot,” Brooks said, describing Wall’s routine. “Not a lot, but he looked good. Not too many guys cannot touch a basketball for five weeks or so and still feel like it’s part of his hand, the way his handle is. Shot the ball well.”
When Wall underwent the procedure, the Wizards announced that he would be expected to miss six to eight weeks. As March 14 will mark the sixth week and thus the first potential date Wall could return, Brooks was asked if the team had projected Wall to be shooting by this point in his recovery.
“I think so. The initial timeline was six to eight weeks, so it’s somewhere in between there,” Brooks said. “Anytime there’s a timeline, it’s just an educated guess by really smart people and you never know how everything is and you don’t put the pressure” on returning.
“You just put the pressure [on] doing your job and working and being diligent and getting the proper treatment that he has gotten,” Brooks continued. “That’s all you can ask for and then you just move on to the next day.”
The next steps appear to follow similar recovery plans the Wizards have employed for players who are recovering from significant injuries. If Wall continues to feel “pretty good” — as Brooks described his physical state after his initial on-court workout Tuesday — then he will participate in live action with the team’s staffers, not Wizards’ teammates. After that, Wall will progress to what Brooks described as five-on-zero with teammates. After successfully completing those steps, Wall would finally return to practice.
“I don’t know when that will be,” Brooks said, “but it’s gearing toward that direction.”
When Wall and the Wizards reach that point, a focus will shift to his workload.
In January, Wall had averaged 36.8 minutes before shutting it down. Once Wall returns, Brooks has previously indicated that he will not appear in back-to-back contests. Within the projected timeline of Wall’s comeback, the Wizards have three sets of back-to-back matchups, including an April 1o home game against the Boston Celtics and the regular season finale the next night in Orlando.
Before the Wizards must plot out the protection plan for their franchise point guard, Brooks enjoyed watching Wall take small steps in the right direction.
“He hasn’t been on the court in five weeks but you’re talking about a very competitive, elite, world-class athlete,” Brooks said. “So he can do things that the real world can’t do and that’s what makes him a special talent, special player. So, he’s feeling good. I saw him shoot, he shot the ball well again.”