Like the rest of us, Marcin Gortat understood that John Wall would be limited in Washington Wizards training camp. Knee surgery and rehabilitation can be a long process, and Wall is recovering from two procedures. So, conventional thought — and cautious words from the man himself — would lead one to believe that Wall would slowly work back into form through training camp while trying to get ready by the season opener on Oct. 27.
However on Tuesday, the first day of camp and exactly one month before the first game, Gortat and several other Wizards recognized just how far the former University of Kentucky star has come in his recovery.
“He looked good. I heard a lot that he wasn’t going to be ready for training camp but to me, he looks normal. He looks completely normal,” Gortat said. “Obviously we didn’t do a lot of hard playing, five-on-five or four-on-four really, really hard but he looked completely fine.”
When the Wizards opened practice, Wall jumped into drills just like the rest of his teammates. He was able to participate in contact layups as well as full-court work and remained on the court for more than an hour before the team turned to more live action. But before he returned to the sideline, he had impressed his coach and teammates.
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Coach Scott Brooks estimated Wall participated in about 70 percent of practice. Kelly Oubre Jr. said Wall dunked during drills. Gortat noted how Wall was talking trash — an encouraging sign of how he has remained engaged while physically limited.
But what did Wall think about his first practice?
“I feel great,” he said. “I’m a little fatigued but other than that I feel really good.”
Wall said how his body reacts over Tuesday night will affect his participation for Wednesday’s practices. If Wall still feels “great,” then he expects to repeat his first-day workload while once again eschewing four-on-four or five-on-five. So, the steady recovery continues but Wall has flashed promising signs to teammates.
“John is going to be back. I have a very good feeling about it,” Oubre said. “He looked great. … He was John Wall. It’s going to be a great year, man.”