ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — What’s the most surprising thing about John Wall? Is it his superhuman speed? Is it how he returned from injury last season to post the best numbers of his career, averaging 18.5 ppg to go with 7.6 assists per? Or maybe it’s that even though he’s entering his fourth NBA season, he’s still just 22 years old?
It may be the last point that is most relevant, because as Wall is quick to point out, he’s a player still in development. And this season he’s looking to build off his superb second half and get the Wizards to the postseason.
Last week just before the Draft, I caught up Wall in Los Angeles at an adidas event.
ME: So how are you feeling?
WALL: I’m feeling good. Just making sure I’m staying healthy this summer, that’s my main thing. Getting the right treatment, taking care of my body, and making sure I’m getting stronger in the right places. That’s the main thing for me, just trying to have a full, healthy, 82-game season.
ME: What do you mean, getting stronger in the “right places?”
WALL: Just getting stronger around my thighs and leg area, my knees. Having tendonitis and playing so many minutes, that’s a lot of wear and tear, especially at a young age. So I just want to make sure my quads are strong, my hamstrings are strong, and all the joints and ligaments around my knee are fully healthy. I’ve had check-ups and they’re doing great.
ME: And you have to be 100 percent because you kind of only have one speed. I remember I saw you play pick-up ball in Vegas during the lockout and you were the only guy who went full-speed in every game. You were taking some hits, getting up and down the floor.
WALL: That’s all I know how to do, is go 110-percent when I play. Even when I play pick-up, I play against guys who are serious about it. This is a game I love, this is what I love to do, I don’t just do it for fun. So I feel like when I’m out there playing. Even if it’s just against a little kid, I end up playing harder than I’m supposed to. That’s a bad thing, but it’s just my competitive edge that I had growing up.
ME: No, that’s good! That’s what you need! You should always try to dominate, right?
WALL: Yeah, I dominate when I play my nephew. He’s like 11th grade, and I dominate him. I feel like whenever I’m between those lines, I have to be competitive. I can’t take it for fun. Like, I went to a camp in Kentucky and was playing knockout against some little kid, and the little kid almost beat me, and so I just got serious at the end. I started playing serious. I was like, “I can’t miss any shots!” (laughs)
ME: What was it like last season for you, dealing with the injury?
WALL: It was the longest I’ve ever been out. I think it made me mentally stronger. And I think it made me a better leader. I already loved and respected the game, but I think now I respect it to another level. Especially being there with my teammates on every road trip, knowing I can’t play. Being there early to work out and make sure I’m getting treatment. I could have stayed back in D.C. while my team was traveling, but I wanted to be a leader, be the guy just sitting right beside the coaches and help guys learn, help guys out. That was my main focus. When I came back and played, they all knew what I was capable of and they accepted me for who I was. (more…)