WASHINGTON -- As John Wall goes, so goes the Wizards. This has been the case since he first put on a Washington jersey three years ago and has only become more true as the team has been built and grown around him.
Washington looked terrible until Wall returned from injury last season. Once he became settled in with his new teammates, though, the floodgates opened and Wall and the team itself looked, if not quite elite, then at the very least competent. And, now that another lottery pick has been added to the mix and Wall is another year older, tangible results are becoming more important than positive signs. People around this team want to win and win now.
Everyone associated with the team seems to be talking about the playoffs as their primary goal for the season. Wall is no different.
"I got a lot of expectations (for this season) but I keep them to myself. The big one is the playoffs," Wall said on media day.
As idealistic as that sounds, Wall is Washington's best player and, unless he continues to improve upon his performance from last season, they won't make the playoffs. But what about in terms of his personal performance? Wall said he's looking to solidify the improvements he made to his half-court scoring attack as well as improve his defense.
Defensively, Wall was more sizzle than steak last year, with his high rates of blocks and steals (he blocked shots at the same rate as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade last year) offset by his tendency to ball watch, leading to open shots for his man and defensive breakdowns for his team. Unlike many young players who appear more excited to discuss their new go-to offensive move or latest offseason purchases, Wall emphasized his work toward becoming more fundamentally sound on defense as well as his time spent watching game film.
"The biggest challenge is defensively. Just getting over pick and rolls better ... Iso situations, learning how to play better and sending guys to the help defense and learning how to close out," he said,
"(I worked on) my jump shot, I keep improving that, and my floater, and just becoming more active on defense," Wall said.
On his post-up game: "I worked on it a lot, my trainer was just here yesterday. Hopefully Coach [Wittman] will call some plays and I can get into the post."
"I don't really think it's the three that's really going to open up my game but it'd be great to add that to my game. I feel like just being able to knock down midrange [jumpers] and make it tough in pick and roll situations when guys got to go over the top instead of going underneath," Wall said.
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