The Washington Wizards announced on Saturday that John Wall would be sidelined for two weeks after receiving injections in his left knee.
After banging knees during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 7, John Wall underwent an MRI on Friday, according to a release from the Wizards. The team said their All-Star was dealing with “left knee discomfort and inflammation.” The latest course of action is for Wall to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection into his knee, which is supposed to help reduce the inflammation. He’s expected to miss two weeks.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first problem Wall has had with his joints. He missed the first 33 games of the 2012-13 season with a stress injury in his left patellar tendon. Over the next four years, Wall appeared in at least 77 games each campaign. In 2016, he had surgery yet again and went under the knife to address issues in both of his knees.
Injuries are never a good thing. But they get far worse when they’re detrimental to how someone plays. A guard like Wall doesn’t have the most reliable jumper, but he’s big and a freak athlete. That explosiveness and ability to change speeds allow Wall to get the basket and finish over bigger guys, but it also generates a fair amount of open jumpers for his teammates. That’s easy money for a team that connects on 36.9 percent of their threes.
Since that night in Dallas, Wall has played in all but one of the eight contests that followed it. Oddly enough, it’s been some of his best basketball of the season. In those seven games, the 27-year-old averaged 19.7 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor. Washington is 5-3 over that stretch. Up to and including the Dallas game, Wall’s numbers were 20.8, 10.8 and 41.2, respectively. The points and assists may have taken a hit, but few things are more dangerous than an efficient John Wall.
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The Wizards have a grueling schedule coming up, making Wall’s absence a bit rougher. They face the Portland Trail Blazers (twice), Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons over that stretch. All of those teams are at least three games over .500.
Bradley Beal is now going to be the leader of this team. He’s been playing out of his mind and is consistently showing that he’s worth the max contract Washington gave him, but this is a new test. The 24-year-old is in the midst of his best season, putting up 24.1 points a night while shooting 47.1 percent from the field. His teammates are going to look his way more often.
Otto Porter is the next guy to get bumped up a tier. It’s a weird position, but he’s going to serve as Beal’s wingman and teams are going to be much more attentive when he’s on the court. Porter benefits tremendously from Wall and Beal, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he adapts to the heightened efforts against him. On the year, he’s averaging 15.5 points while shooting a blistering 47.8 percent from three-point territory.
Tim Frazier will command the starting point guard role, and he’s one of the more reliable backups in the league. This year’s numbers don’t say so, but it wasn’t too long ago when he was a legit 13-7 guy with the New Orleans Pelicans. On the bright side, if things get messy he can just put the ball in Beal’s hands and let him go to work.
Below Frazier is where things get murky. Kelly Oubre has shown flashes of being more than a three-point threat, but the consistency hasn’t been there. Everyone else is going to have to find a way to contribute positively, and Scott Brooks and his staff will have to work overtime to compile rotations that aren’t a detriment to their team.
If we’re trying to find the silver lining in John Wall’s injury, it’d be it happening early in the season. Had the Washington Wizards got this news in March, it would have an impact on their playoff seeding, and this is a team who, on paper, is arguably the third-best in their conference.
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