John Wall put together one heck of a rookie season in the NBA. The Washington Wizards guard averaged more than 16 points and more than eight assists per game for a Wizards team that finished with just 23 victories.
One year later, Wall believes the Wizards have the pieces in place — including veteran big man Ronny Turiaf and JaVale McGee — to make a run to the playoffs. Wall, the No. 1 overall pick, says he’ll be just fine handling the pressure.
John Wall joined 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. with LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes to discuss his approach heading into his second season, the pressure of it being his team, having a younger team, big man JaVale McGee, why the team is a playoff team this year and things slowing down in his second year.
What’s different about your approach heading into your second year?:
“Just seeing how people guarded me, but as a team also. Watching a lot of film this summer of guys I played against, what I did good, what I did bad. Also, turnover-wise, what I need to do to help the team win and be a better leader. I think the offseason and the lockout really helped prepare me for the upcoming season.”
Do you feel like you’re ready to handle the workload of this being your team?:
“It’s a lot easier now. Throughout my high school and college career, I put the pressure on. The NBA is totally a different level. You’ve basically got the whole city, the whole D.C. family behind you. … My teammates understand that they can trust me to be a leader. I always lead by example on the court, but I think not being able to play how I wanted to and missing some games, they couldn’t really listen to me. I learned that some guys you can yell in front of everybody and some guys you’ve got to hug and baby. … This year, everybody knows their role.”
Is it different for you to play on a younger, more athletic team?:
“Kind of. I think, for us, as a young team, you’ve always got to play hard. A lot of guys are veteran and know the game better, so the main thing is to play hard, you’ve got to play defense, you’ve got to play together and in the fourth quarter, you’ve got to learn how to close out games. We lost 20 games by five points or less, when we was up five, with three minutes to go.”
On big man JaVale McGee:
“He’s got a better post-up game than he had the year before. I think you can basically compare him to Tyson Chandler. … He’s going to play more back to the basket and making pick-and-pop jumpers and if he’s doing that for us and playing the way we need him to and staying in great shape and all that, he can really help us out a lot.”
Are you guys a playoff team this year?:
“I think so. Last year, we was ahead of Philly at one point and then they went on a 15-game winning streak. The most winning streak we had was two games and that was near the end of the season. … I think, going in, the main thing for us that’s really going to help us, in our first of two road games, we have to win one of those games. If we lose those two games, you start thinking of last year and the guys from last year start thinking, ‘Is this another year of losing a lot of road games?'”
Do you think, after your rookie year, things will slow down for you?:
“Yeah, your first year, you see the plays going fast. It’s plays, plays, plays and you’re just trying to make any kind of read that you see. … That one split second you wait and hesitate to do something, you miss out. You just watch a lot of film and seeing the careless plays that I made, it makes it a lot easier through training camp.”