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It’s time for John Wall to evolve like the rest of the Wizards

Washington’s franchise player still believes he and Bradley Beal can make the league’s backcourt. That sounded great several years ago, but it’s time for him to move on toward the next chapter of his career

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Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

John Wall feels that he and Bradley Beal will be the best backcourt in the NBA for the 2020-2021 season. I’m sorry but are we back in 2013? Am I having Deja Vu?

John Wall’s comments on ESPN’s WYD shouldn’t be taken too seriously and I’m 100 percent certain I’m overreacting but in my opinion his comments beg the question - what are we doing here? Yes, he was asked where he and Beal would rank as a backcourt but why is our veteran, soon to be 30-year old point guard still doing this?

Wall and Beal talked ad nauseam about being the best backcourt in the NBA early in their careers. The first time they said it I certainly took notice and appreciated the confidence. The problem was they never actually achieved it and the last we saw them together, the wheels were coming off. So why exactly are is Wall going in reverse and regurgitating a talking point that 1) is meaningless and 2) should not be a priority to either he or Brad at this point in their respective careers.

A double-edged sword with the Wall/Beal Wizards has been that they don’t back down and aren’t afraid to speak their minds. Frankly, that’s why I think they had the playoff success they did early in their careers. They weren’t intimidated by anyone and never went into a series thinking that the opponent was better than them.

That was a good characteristic in my mind but as they the seasons went on that confidence became bravado and the result was Wolf Season, the Cavaliers were ducking them, they would have make the Conference Finals if Wall hadn’t been hurt, etc... The talk, and failure to back it up got stale and began to fall on deaf ears. The pundits got tired of the Wizards.

Wall will be entering his 11th season in the NBA the next time he steps on the floor for a live game. Going on his age-30 season and what will be two years off the floor between NBA games, it’s time to leave the bravado behind. It’s frankly beneath him.

The team has changed drastically since the last time he played. Ernie Grunfeld and most of the players he had grown accustomed to playing with are gone. There is no Paul Pierce or Trevor Ariza to be “the vet” for him – he’s that guy now.

Tommy Sheppard is also steering the ship now and he’s not trying to recreate what his predecessor built, he has his own vision of the team.

Does Wall’s bravado about he and Beal being the best backcourt in the NBA jive with Sheppard’s vision? Do we really think Sheppard wants to recreate the prior iteration of the Wizards, an iteration which took them from the conference semifinals, to the eighth seed, then out of the postseason? Or do you think he wants to see Wall come back in, embrace the changes, and be the floor leader they need to continue Beal’s ascension and bring out the best out of what will be a young core around them. That isn’t going to happen if Wall is chasing something that isn’t important.

Wall always says the right things when it comes to talking about his game. Every off-season he talks improvements to this jump-shot, his excitement to play without the ball, being healthier than he has been in years past, etc…however when the season would start, we would see mostly the same player. Some of that certainly can be attributed to the injuries but nonetheless, the off-season rhetoric has been the same, without the results to follow.

I’m not suggesting Wall or any player sugarcoat what they have to say. I appreciate confidence and a willingness to compete. One of the criticisms of this era is the players are teaming up versus competing so the all the confidence and talking in the world is welcome, but it can’t be misplaced.

Wall has always been credited for his authenticity. He will always say what’s on his mind. That works both ways however. His answer can’t be excused as just answering a question he was asked because if Wall did not want to answer it that way, he wouldn’t have. So you are left wondering, what’s more important to him, shaping the future of this franchise or chasing the same goals he had seven years ago?

Wall should absolutely aim to be the best version of himself when he returns, but he also has to realize how things have changed around him since he last hit the floor. The organization has evolved, Beal has evolved, and the roster around him is evolving; it’s time for Wall to do the same thing and evolve with them versus taking the same wrong turn again.

That isn’t going to happen until he leaves the past behind. It’s time to stop talking about Demarcus Cousins, the series with the Hawks, game 6 versus the Celtics, his all-NBA season, or being the best backcourt in the NBA. How are we supposed to be convinced things will be different if Wall isn’t willing to try things differently? If he doesn’t, it’s just going to be Deja Vu all over again.