John Wall slashed, dashed and dished his way through an impressive 21 minutes in Saturday night's win over Atlanta, which doubled as the point guard's season debut after missing the first 33 games with a knee stress injury. It goes without saying the Wizards suffered greatly by not having the face of the franchise on the court. That was then. Players and coaches alike have a little (or in some cases a lot) extra spring in the step. Even before Wall's return the team starting showing signs of improvement in games against Brooklyn and Oklahoma City. Regardless, thinking about the postseason at 6-28 is tantamount to dreaming the impossible dream.
With all that said, now what?
That's a big picture question we'll talk about here all this week, assuming others matters like more injuries (the horror!!) or say the Rudy Gay trade rumors don't take over the landscape (I put little stock into this buzz and virtually none in the Wizards actually parting ways with Beal).
That's a question Wall was asked after the Wizards strung together consecutive wins for the first time this season:
"We got our team. Just keep building," Wall said. "Get as many wins as we can get. Keep fighting hard. That's all we can do. You don't want to give up on the season."
Other issues to ponder over the coming days, weeks and months of the 2012-13 season
* Now that roster is nearly as it was entering training camp, we go back to what was expected to be a training camp and early season topic of Randy Wittman's playing rotation. No matter how you view the overall roster, there are more viable options than there are minutes. That might not be the case over the next week or two as Wall and the other recent returnees ramp up their conditioning, but soon enough the core of Wittman's rotation will shape up. Then what.
*Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton are all recent first round picks - and in general sense all play the same energy forward type role. Booker had the edge for minutes coming into the season, but that might not be the case now, especially since he cannot shake the injury bug. Wittman said on Sunday the 6-foot-8 forward, also playing his first game on Saturday after missing 24 with a strained knee, "tweaked" his ankle and is questionable for Monday's game against Orlando. Vesely follows up a 10 and 7 outing against the Thunder with a five fouls in five scoreless minutes performance against the Hawks. Singleton cannot even get on the court. There's a chance some nights that could be the case for all three.
*A.J. Price's role was to be that of Wall's primary backup, but the chatty point guard was thrust into the starting lineup with Wall out. Now he's back and poured in season-high 16 points against Atlanta, but there were times this season where he looked like a run-of-the-mill option. Speaking of options, Wittman can now use 6-foot-6 Garrett Temple at the point or elsewhere on the perimeter. How the coach allocates minutes behind Wall will be interesting, especially since...
*It could curtail the on-court run for Jordan Crawford, the Wizards leading scorer at 15.6 points per game. Without Nene and Wall for stretches of the season, without Bradley Beal consistently asserting himself as a scorer, Wittman relied heavily on Crawford's natural point-producing skills even though the ball-dominant guard ways are not conducive with a moving -the-ball approach. Now the inside-outside pair are both back and Beal is racking up points, meaning Crawford's role can be reduced, if not eliminated should a trade for other needs be presented.
*Then you have the age old quandary of age on the court in what is now essentially a rebuilding season. You have the veteran Emeka Okafor and the third-year center Kevin Seraphin battling for minutes inside. Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster offer a decent defense-offense pairing, but they also block minutes for the aforementioned trio of Booker, Vesely and Singleton.
*The trading deadline is still a few weeks off, but the Wizards will be in the rumored mix. Webster, Price and Cartier Martin are on one-year deals and thus could be attractive for playoff teams needing to fill a specific hole. The whole point of the Gay rumors is that Memphis is gauging whether it wants to potentially pay the luxury tax but keeping so many high-cost players. The Grizzlies won't be the only team in that boat and the Wizards are reportedly ready to swoop in and take advantage of such scenarios, if possible.
*Maybe most important of all, does a Wall, Beal, Nene nucleus with the other pieces on hand and with Wittman pulling the strings get you into the playoffs. If the Wizards can go .500 or better the rest of the way, we might have our answer. Granted, the rest of the way is a long way to go, but without this year's postseason a viable option, it's what we are left to ponder. Well, that and a bunch of other roster and franchise questions.