The natural instinct is for Wizards fans to be worried that John Wall will be unnecessarily put in harm's way like Robert Griffin III was in the Redskins' playoff game. Here's why we should be comforted that there won't be a repeat scenario.
Those of you who are like me and root for the Washington Redskins in addition to the Wizards probably had the same thought while watching Robert Griffin III limp around on a gimpy knee against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Boy, I hope the Wizards don't put John Wall in harm's way like the Redskins did to RGIII.
It's an understandable emotion. Griffin is the future of the Redskins and he clearly wasn't right. He was hurting the team in his diminished state, and you'd hate to cause a long-term health risk to a franchise player like that just for one playoff game. When the exact doomsday scenario happened late in the fourth quarter, it made people angry, as it should have.
And so, we're naturally worried about the same doomsday scenario with Wall. Is he really going to be healthy when he takes the floor? Is there a need to risk his long-term health with the season already down the tubes?
These are natural questions, of course. However, I think the Wizards have taken the necessary precautions.
Keep in mind that Wall is still not playing. The Wizards could have insisted he come back in December and fight through the cartilage damage he described. They didn't. They could have insisted Wall come back before even practicing. They haven't. They could immediately throw him in there for 35 minutes a game once he does come back, but based on Randy Wittman's words from Friday, it doesn't seem like that'll be the case. If anything, they've been unusually cautious with this injury.
Now, one could argue that the only way to be extra cautious with Wall is to sit him for the entire season, but that doesn't seem too realistic. Sure, the Wizards are going nowhere, but we need to see Wall play if only to answer a lot of questions about Wall himself. Is he showing signs of taking the next step? How will he lift up the rest of the roster? Will he return as confident a player as before? At some point, we need to see Wall answer these questions. If he's healthy, he should play.
Obviously, the Wizards need to keep a close eye on Wall's progress. If he shows the slightest sign of pain, the Wizards need to make sure he's not put in harm's way for no reason. Given how the Wizards have kept the kid gloves on Nene with his minutes limit, I'm a little more confident that they'll be similarly careful with Wall. His long-term health does come first. But recent history, as well as their public statements, make me think that they've learned from some of their past mistakes.
Time will tell, of course, and this is the Wizards we're talking about. The team's history with treating injuries doesn't lend them to being given the benefit of the doubt. But I certainly think they have and will continue to do much more to keep Wall healthy than the Redskins ever did with RGIII.