Wall: "If I don't make the playoffs, it's a waste of time"
FAIRFAX, Va. -- Until now, the talk about John Wall and leadership has been mostly just that until recently. eresay.
But going into the Wizards' third day of training camp at George Mason University, it's evident. There's a distinctly different flavor despite losing Emeka Okafor (herniated disk) and Chris Singleton (foot/toe surgery) last week.
"Everyone is more focused. It might have something to do with the veterans," said Trevor Booker, a rising fourth-year forward who has observed the first two days while on the sideline with right knee soreness. "We have a lot more veterans than usual. I think everybody is into. Very vocal. They're playing with a lot of passion right now."
Wall, who signed an $80 million extension in the off-season, has indeed become more assertive as he tries to lead this team to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
In fact, when I asked Garrett Temple about it as he walked off the court after a three-hour session he said it's on the defensive end. And the Wizards already were a top 10 defense in points allowed last season.
Coach Randy Wittman has witnessed a change in Wall since he returned from individual workouts. He wants more of it, and from more players.
"He's a critic with some of our guys in correcting (them). … Thats the thing with our group that I think is going to be important this year for you to take another step," Wittman said. "This group has to come together and be able to coach one another and fix things on the floor when they happen instead of waiting for a timeout, coming over to the coaches. Fix it, talk to each other, critique each other, help each other. As those things happen in a game they can correct them amongst each other.
"Sometimes that's a hard thing, for players to take criticism from another player. That's where this team has to get to. I've seen some of that….when you get to that point in the locker room, that's where you really grow and bond as a team. All the good ones do it. Trust me. This team, we didn't have that. (It's) a quality we didn't have last year."