A.J. Price participated in a full contact scrimmage on Saturday, his first since fracturing his right hand on Dec. 8. That meant for the first time this season, all 15 players on the Wizards roster were available. For a 4-27 team coming off the toughest loss in already trying season, that's something.
Also something, getting a look at John Wall going full bore on the court, something the media had not witnessed before today. The team said Wall began practicing in full on Thursday.
During those five or so available minutes of the spirited scrimmage, the Wizards point guard darted and dunked (well, attempted one, anyway). Any first-time viewers with minimal expectations likely would be pleased at seeing Wall's driving aggression and subsequent soaring on the missed jam - two free throws came his way on the play. Another time he elevated and playfully hung on the rim after a teammate's basket.
On the other hand, anyone expecting to see arguably the fastest player in the league go zoom, zoom, zoom up and down the court would remain unfulfilled. There was burst, just not John Wall level burst, not yet.
Regardless, it's progress, which is what the Wizards hope they can make when all the inactive players are inactive on game day no more.
"It’s a great feeling, "Bradley Beal said, "because we know what kind of team we’re capable of being and we’re short now, but we’re still competing with teams with what we have. And we’re going to be that much better when we get everybody back and the chemistry is still going to be there, because guys understand we know how to play off each other. So I’m really looking forward to it."
After the crushing 115-113 double-overtime loss to Brooklyn, the Wizards (4-27) fourth straight and 12th in 13 games, finding anything positive counts as a win even if its not the kind that counts in the standings.
Trevor Ariza hoped to play Friday night, but the small forward wound up missing his 16th straight game with a strained left calf. Trevor Booker (strained right knee) recently said he's targeting the Jan. 12 game against Atlanta for his return, though the team has not stated a return date for any of the four players. Washington plays at Miami (22-9) on Sunday (6 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
"I always think Ariza is probably the closest one of them all," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "Last time he went this hard, the next morning there was still a little tightness in there. We're going to have wait until we get over to the shoot-around tomorrow and see what the progress from was today, really for all of them."
No longer wearing a cast, Price had two fingers on his right hand taped together. When situated in the lane or moving in front of a ball-handler, he noticeably kept his hands in front and close to his body. Even with the some level of tentativeness, Price has a conditioning leg up on his fellow injured players.
"A.J. is probably going to come along pretty fast I would think. Because it being his hand, he can do a lot more conditioning because his legs were fine," Wittman said. "Everybody else it was a leg situation. You can do all the swimming and [anti-gravity treadmill] you want. It's not the same. I anticipate [Price] being here pretty quick."
For the record, not all the players scrimmaged as Wittman rested some that played heavy minutes Friday night, notably Nene, Emeka Okafor and Jordan Crawford. Still, consider it a good day. Seeing as there have been so few, the hopeful versions stand out.