As John Wall enters his third year with the Washington Wizards, there is a great deal of optimism surrounding the team. The point guard from Kentucky is the face-of-the-franchise, and along with the newly acquired Nene, is clearly identified as one of the team leaders.
The Wizards selected Wall with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, and immediately asked him to direct a team that, quite frankly, wasn't very good. However, in spite of the team's lack of success, Wall has continued to develop both as a player and a person.
Wall would be a senior in college right now. The 22-year-old thought this would be the season that would significantly define his career, the season he would prove that he was worthy of being the Wizards' first overall pick.
It could still happen, but the start of Wall's season has been postponed. He is expected to miss the month of November after being diagnosed with the early stages of a stress injury to his left knee cap.
That's all the bad news the Wizards need, a team that hasn't qualified for the playoffs in four-straight years. They've finished each of the last four seasons more than 25 games under .500, including the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12.
But that's not all. Nene, their second-best player, has been sidelined with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He wasn't able to practice with the team prior to its regular season opener against Cleveland on Tuesday. After being acquired in a trade late last season, Nene played in only 11 games with the Wizards, but that was more than adequate for teammates and coaches to be impressed by his skills and leadership.
The Wizards' preseason has been defined by one mishap after another, from Trevor Booker's nagging left hamstring to Kevin Seraphin's strained right calf to Emeka Okafor's bout with food poisoning. Although none of those are long-term injuries, they've damaged Head Coach Randy Wittman's plans for establishing lineup continuity as the team tries to break the playoff skid.
But, there is a silver lining. Wittman shared this explanation on how the adversity will benefit his team:
"You anticipate that when everyone gets back healthy, that the guys here that have gotten more playing time than they probably would are going to be better prepared to be playing," Wittman said. "You hope when we're all healthy that we're a better team because of this happening."