With John Wall in place, playoffs are Wizards’ sole focus

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

The Washington Wizards plan to go from bottom dwellers to playoff contenders this season with a healthy John Wall in place for the long term and key players joining the team this summer.

Wall is enthusiastic for the chance to get his first taste of playoff action and he knows what it is going to take.

“Main thing for us is just going in healthy, and just get off to a great start,” Wall said Thursday at a news conference announcing his five-year, $80 million contract extension.

“We know what it takes going into a season, and I know what it takes to win.”

The Wizards have not made the postseason in five years, but their hope is with their franchise player locked in for the next six years and the additions made this offseason, the team will break into the playoff hunt.

Wall has averaged 16.9 points and eight assists in his three years as a Wizard. Injuries forced him to sit out for a large portion of last season, as he only participated in 49 games.

Washington finished last season 29-53, but went 24-25 (including 14-12 against playoff teams) after Wall rejoined the lineup. Before Wall’s Jan. 12 return, the Wizards were only 2-18 against eventual playoff teams.

“It’s been an up-and-down road for us,” Wall said. “[Owner] Ted Leonsis told me it was going to be tough times. Tough times don’t last long, tough people do.”

Leonsis made it clear the team wanted to lock Wall in and did not leave any question who the franchise’s centerpiece is.

“To be able to now secure his services for five years plus the year that he’s playing this year really gives the fan base, the team, the coaching staff, the wherewithal to know that we’ll have stability,” Leonsis said, “and that we can continue to build systematically around what John’s gifts and skills are.”

Wall and the Wizards are satisfied with how the roster has evolved this offseason. The additions of Otto Porter and Eric Maynor, along with the retention of Martell Webster, should open up lanes for Wall and Bradley Beal.

Washington added Maynor earlier this offseason as a backup point guard who will be able to act as a security blanket, but coach Randy Wittman also plans to play them alongside one another.

“That’s all I really need is a guy that is capable of making shots,” Wall said of his supporting cast.

Now a max-contract player, Wall has been working on several facets of his game this offseason. Not only has he improved his jump shot, which has been one of his biggest struggles, he said he has worked on a floater and also plans to work out with retired NBA great Gary Payton later this summer.

The improvements will be much anticipated as Washington has hopes of having its first winning season with Wall at the helm.

“The day we drafted John, we’ve said that we want to build this franchise with him and around him,” said Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld. “I think over the last three years he’s shown that he’s capable of leading us where we want to go. And that’s back to the playoffs and to be a perennial playoff contender.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama

  • Dinesh D'Souza's "America: Imagine the World Without Her" got promising reviews from two major Hollywood publications. It opens nationwide Wednesday.

    D’Souza on Costco debacle: ‘It was really bizarre’