It's impossible to see John Wall return to the court without thinking of a trio of former teammates from his first season and a half in the NBA.
Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young have had notable years with their respective new teams -- the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers -- since leaving Washington behind. All three have a chance to go to the playoffs -- McGee and Young (with the Los Angeles Clippers) were both there last year -- while the Nets and Nuggets are the hottest teams in the NBA.
And all three have exposed the same flaws Wall refused to vent about when they shared the same locker room.
Blatche (11.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) continues to thrive off the bench for the Nets, who have won six in a row and eight of nine under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. That includes a double overtime win in Washington in which he had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
As a reserve, Blatche wasn't a factor in either extra period. He did find himself in a sexual assault investigation a few days later stemming from an incident in Philadelphia. Whether he's in trouble or just near it, there's a distraction growing in Brooklyn that has Blatche's name on it.
The Nuggets have won five in a row since Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla wrote, "I would give McGee a one-way bus ticket to Altoona, Pa."
McGee (10.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg) doesn't necessarily get the credit. His biggest contribution during the winning streak was 17 points and a Pau Gasol concussion produced by his elbow in a 112-105 win at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Back in Philadelphia, Young is the 76ers' top scorer off the bench (10.1 ppg), but he received his first DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coach's Decision) in a 107-100 win over Houston last weekend. Sixers coach Doug Collins, in search of better defense, said he plans to keep Young behind Damien Wilkins in the rotation.
Meanwhile in Washington, a healthy and determined Wall has stronger faith in the players around him and the chance to write a new chapter after the first part of his career, however remarkable, wasn't played in ideal surroundings.
- Craig Stouffer