Wall's NBA return nears in Durant-organized pickup games originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
John Wall has taken another major step toward returning to an NBA court for the first time since Dec. 26, 2018.
Friday, in Los Angeles at The Academy -- once known as the Mamba Academy -- Wall and several Washington Wizards players, including Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant, took part in several runs of pickup with members of the Brooklyn Nets. The games featured D.C.-area native Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, among others.
According to a source, the pickup games were put together by Durant. Like Wall, Durant missed the entire 2019-2020 season after surgeries to repair a torn Achilles tendon.
This latest step is a major one in terms of Wall competing against some the highest-level players in the league.
A source in attendance tells NBC Sports Washington that Wall showed explosiveness, while showcasing a much improved 3-point shot.
Before the NBA shut its doors on March 11 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Wall was already taking part in 5-on-5 scrimmages with teammates. But once the shutdown happened, it forced Wall to take a step back.
“I was in my best shape possible before the quarantine hit and we got hit,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington during the NBA restart in August. “The COVID-19 kind of set us back because we didn’t know what was going on. We have to be safe and sound and stay home."
When Washington was invited by the league to compete in the Orlando bubble, Wall decided to continue his rehabilitation in Miami with Wizards assistant coach/player development Alex McLean. Wall began playing pickup with Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond and top 2020 NBA draft prospect James Wiseman.
Wall told NBC Sports Washington during the summer that he’s now playing basketball pain free, which hasn’t been the case most of his ten years in the NBA.
“I feel young to be honest,” Wall said. “I hooped today and I told [McLean] I didn’t even feel like I played today. You know, that’s the most important thing to me just locking in to have my body prepared for a whole season no matter how many minutes I play.”