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Mounting expectations on John Wall’s return could backfire

The Washington Wizards should be excited for his return. But they also want everyone to temper expectations first.

New Orleans Pelicans v Washington Wizards Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

There hasn’t been a ton of basketball news to report on recently as far as the Washington Wizards go. However, Chris Miller’s recent podcast episode (reported by Chase Hughes) has caught my attention. Wizards’ combo guard/forward Isaac Bonga had this to say about John Wall’s current capabilities:

“I think people don’t get how still crazy good John is right now. People don’t get it. People don’t get it. Seeing John... with us and [with] G-League [players]. It’s like, man, he cannot wait. He legit can’t wait to be back out there. That’s what he be showing every day out there. It’s crazy,”

In fact, this is not the first time someone from the Wizards’ organization is talking about the subject. In March, just days before the league was suspended due to COVID-19, Scott Brooks had this to say to Chase Hughes:

“He’s putting his work in. He hasn’t played a lot of 5-on-5, but he’s played enough to see that he’s going to be just fine. He’s going to be the John that we all love. He’s going to be one of the best point guards in the league when he comes back.”

Of course, every Wizards’ fan hopes and prays Wall will come back as good as he ever was. However, might it be putting additional unnecessary pressure on him that he will return, after two full years of absence from NBA courts, to be ``one of the best PGs” or ``crazy good”?

Of course, John Wall has been speaking up himself about how anxious he is and how well his recovery has panned out in a recent conference call with media (as reported by Chris Crouse) where he declared he is “110 percent” healthy, and “itching to get back out there,” but even he used some caution and added that he’s still taking his time with rehab and getting himself into the “best possible shape.”

Tommy Sheppard has used caution in his statements and has wisely emphasized how expectations should be managed (as reported by Chase Hughes in February):

“I think we have maintained that all along. We didn’t plan on seeing him this year. I think that’s fair to John, to manage the expectations for him. He’s on his way, but he’s not there and he’s not close yet. He’s a lot closer than he was a year ago when the injury happened.”

As Kevin Broom has explained using a detailled analysis the type of injury Wall is recovering from requires heaps of caution and lowering of expectations.

Let’s hope that Wall’s teammates and coach take a lesson from his GM and don’t unnecessary mount too much pressure on Wall’s much anticipated return so that he can gradually become the John Wall we all love and admire.