Monumental Comeback or Monumental Collapse?
Updated: Jun 3
Bradley Beal has remained constant in John Wall’s NBA life.
Whether that would change or not will rest ultimately on Wall’s ability to adapt in his comeback bid from two major injuries – knee and ruptured Achilles heel – that only a few have gracefully recovered from.
During this time when Beal’s star has been shining at its brightest, Wall chose to share the limelight as he announced that he’s 110 percent healthy and ready to come back next season.
Beal, who drew another interest in the trade market this week, has doubled down on his plan of staying as a Wizard for life. While he was flattered with the idea of the Brooklyn Nets trying to add him as the third wheel in the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving partnership, he’s more intrigued with the ceiling of his friendship with Wall.
"My biggest thing right now is that I want to play with John [Wall] again. I want to see him get back to that level where I know he can be, especially since my game has grown so much [while he's been out]. What can we accomplish together? I'm so happy he's healthy, working his tail off." - Bradley Beal on ESPN
However, the odds are stacked against Wall, whose game is predicated on speed, to return to the All-Star he once was in the fast-changing landscape of the league.
The biggest wall that can stand between him and Beal is accepting the fact that he’ll be re-joining a team that is no longer his.
The script has been flipped. His former co-star is now the lead star. Beal is no longer playing behind Wall’s shadow.
The Wizards are now Beal’s team.
The brotherhood he was harping on last month will be put to the test once he returns.
“People say they don’t know our relationship between me and Brad [Beal] because everybody was like, ‘Well y’all don’t get along.’ Bro, when I got the phone call, the first person that came down to my hotel room and hang out with me was Brad. [He] come to hold me like, ‘You’re my brother.’”
“… After they played that game against Charlotte, they lost, Brad didn’t even get on the team plane. He drove down to be with me in North Carolina for the next two or three days. You see what I’m saying?” - John Wall on All The Smoke Podcast
Wall would need to reconfigure his game to fit in next to Beal, who has become the new face of the Wizards’ “Monumental Basketball”, the team’s revamped front office synergy under the leadership of new GM Tommy Sheppard.
But if there’s any glimmer of hope for the Wizards, Wall isn’t the type that easily crumbles.
He is smart enough to know what’s needed to be done. The only question is if he’s willing to set aside his ego and do whatever it takes. There’s an evidence in the past that suggests Wall possesses that heart.
For years, he has been quietly developing a jump shot working out with renowned NBA stars’ trainer Rob McClanaghan to establish that separation from his peers and inch closer to greatness.
McClanaghan, the former Syracuse walk-on turned skills trainer, has a solid track record of working out with the league superstars – MVPs Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook; All-Stars Kevin Love, Wall and Beal and also Milwaukee Bucks’ big man Brook Lopez, who has redefined the center position by adding the three-point weapon to his arsenal.
Wall was on his way to add that potent jump shot to his game until injuries betrayed him. From just a mere 29-percent three-point shooter in his rookie season, he morphed into a solid 37-percent outside sniper in 2017.
From a rising star, the fall came swift for Wall.
He’s been since reduced to a punchline due largely to his albatross contract and his assortment of injuries. But if there’s a moment he could hang onto to get back on the right track, it’s the Game Six of their Eastern Conference Semifinals showdown against Boston Celtics in 2017.
This was the time when Wall was at the peak of his powers, deserving of the supermax contract.
While the jury is still out whether he could return to that form, one thing’s for sure. Beal will be there to carry him. And he has to accept it or his grand plan of a monumental comeback will collapse.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo