John Wall’s Q Rating around the NBA has never been lower than it is right now. He missed the playoffs last year, he’s coming off surgery, he doesn’t have a shoe deal, he couldn’t recruit an All-Star to join him in Washington this summer, at least one site thinks the Wizards will finish 12th in their conference, he admitted he has issues with the second-best player on his team, and he had to address allegations that he’s “pocket watching” other players.
Wall has faced plenty of adversity in his NBA career, but this is the first time he’s had to deal with serious questions about his health, star status, and whether or not he’s the right player to lead the Washington Wizards moving forward. Even if a lot of those questions are from talking heads desperate for something to discuss during these dull summer months, they’re still there and they’ll be with him until he takes the court.
He can’t control the narrative that’s been crafted around him this summer, but the good news is he can control how he responds on the floor this season. He can work with Bradley Beal to make the offense flow better. He can show the rest of the league what they missed when they passed over Washington in free agency. And he can show everyone he’s worth the money he thinks he’s worth as a player and an endorser by how he handles things this season.
Better yet, he should finally have the tools to make the most of his abilities. Say what you want about what the Wizards did this summer, at least they got rid of a lot of the obstacles that were getting in Wall’s way the past few seasons. Now he gets to play under a proven coach who has had success getting the most out of athletic point guards. He also now has more athletic players on the perimeter who can run with him on fast breaks and more rim protectors who will allow him to be more aggressive on the defensive end. The team may not have made a significant talent upgrade from last year, but at least now the supporting pieces should align better with Wall’s strengths than in previous years.
As bad as last year was for John Wall, things are aligning for him to reclaim the status he worked up to by the end of the 2014-15 season. The opportunity to show he still belongs with the stars of the NBA, the chance to play with teammates who align with his skills, and his penchant for using slights and criticisms to fuel his game should give Wall everything he needs to make people forget about this summer.