Dear John Wall,
Great job against the Memphis Grizzlies last night. For the first time in a couple months, you looked like you were back to the old you that captivated the basketball world and ran away with the All Star vote among Eastern Conference guards. You had your burst back last night and it let you do the crazy things only you can do, like make Courtney Lee look like a video game glitch and block a shot in the paint and on the perimeter in the same possession. After everything you've been through the past few months - playing through sore knees, rolled ankles and blinding migraines - it's nice to see you come out on the other side unbroken by what you went through.
But after Thursday's big win against the Grizzlies, we heard you were a little upset by their choice to rest four of their starters. Here's what you said after the game when you were asked if you felt that decision was disrespectful to you and the team:
"That's how I see it. They sit them, I don't really know the reason why. We are a team that's on the rise and teams respect us now and then they don't respect us. We just wanted to come out and play basketball the right way and get the win no matter what."
John, don't do that. Don't be that guy. I'm sure you were upset that you didn't have a chance to prove yourself against one of the NBA's best last night, but they didn't make the decision they made last night to disrespect you or the team.
Over 82 games, every player on every team breaks down at some point, especially on grueling trips plalying five games in seven nights, like the Grizzlies were finishing up last night. The prior night, they dropped a game to the lowly Celtics and Mike Conley got hurt in the process. If anything, resting their starters was a concession that they didn't have a shot at beating your team, so why burn their stars out?
Resting star players when they're healthy isn't about finding weak opponents you can beat with one arm tied behind your back, it's about doing what's best for your players over the long term. Yes, durability is admirable and valuable, but so is being able to play at the peak of your abilities. What's the point of consistently playing 82 games if it means you're constantly fluctuating between 80 and 90 percent all season long?
Back in late January, you admitted you thought about sitting out a game against the Suns, but decided to play anyway because you felt your team couldn't afford to have you rest when Nene was getting the night off. Again, it's admirable that you chose to play though your injuries to try to help pull out a win on the road in Phoenix, but you really didn't help the cause by going out there at 75 percent. You logged 36 minutes, scored 11 points on 16 shots, and watched from the bench as Garrett Temple (who was fresh) helped spark a late run that turned a certain blowout into a narrow loss. And if you're being honest with yourself, it played a big part in the slump you've been in the past month and a half, until you finally got some needed rest thanks to the schedule lightening up over the past week.
Given how much you're responsible for offensively and defensively, it's understandable why you might feel like you can't afford to rest. But at the same time, we'd argue the last few months have shown us that the Wizards can't afford not to give you a night off every now and then. And we promise you other teams won't take it too personally when you actually do.
P.S. Sorry about opening this letter with "Dear John," but we weren't sure how to avoid that while opening this letter.