John Wall made some positive improvements to his game last season. He earned his first Player of the Month award, he shot a career-best 35.1 percent from beyond the arc, and he averaged a career-high 10.2 assists per game despite playing with a revolving cast of players this season. Still, despite those improvements, most would agree it wasn't a great year for Wall. He had more turnovers this season, didn't shoot as well inside the arc, and took a big step back defensively.
Recently, Michael Lee of The Vertical caught up with John Wall, and as part of their discussion, he talked about how his left knee (which he recently had surgery on) has been holding him back the past three seasons:
It was painful. You watch a lot in games, I jumped off my right leg, or I jumped off two feet. I never jumped off my left leg. That's the reason I rarely went right, because I had to jump off two feet, because this leg, I couldn't get off of it. ... Dr. Parker told me, 'I don't know how the hell you were able to do it.' [Famed orthopedist] Dr. [James] Andrews told me the same thing: 'You're basically playing on one leg, to be honest with you.'
Playing like that would help explain why Wall struggled so much on the defensive end after being named 2nd Team All-Defense the year before. It's not easy to keep and maintain a proper defensive stance if your knee is giving you trouble. Likewise, if you can only generate lift with one leg, it limits what you can do to avoid defenders when you're attacking the rim. It would go a long way explaining why Wall shot 57.6 percent in the restricted area, down from 61.3 percent last year, and why he was blocked on 50 of those shot attempts last year after only getting blocked 35 times in that same area in 2014-15.
But Wall isn't the only one who believes he can come back stronger next season. His new coach is a believer too:
"He told me I haven't reached nearly my potential, and that's something I like to hear, because I haven't. I've just showed glimpses of what I can be."
After going through a surgery, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is doubt, whether it's doubt in the strength of your knee or doubt that you'll be able to return and play as well as you did before the surgery. From the sound of things, Wall won't have any issues with either of those issues as he works toward getting healthy in time for the start of next season.