John Wall healthy, eyes playoffs
"The goal is the playoffs," Wall told ESPN.com. "We've got the pieces."
Wall said that the addition of Al Harrington was "huge" and that the 33-year-old veteran may be the missing piece for the Wizards to get to the postseason. Harrington signed on Aug. 14 after the Orlando Magic waived him.
"We got what we needed with Al Harrington," Wall said. "He looks healthy, and to bring in a true veteran who knows what it takes to win was important for us."
However, injuries have already hit the Wizards. Starting big man Emeka Okafor is out indefinitely with a herniated disc, and reserve forward Chris Singleton will miss six to eight weeks with a broken bone in his foot.
"That's the only thing that can hold us back: health," Wall said.
Wall missed the first 33 games last season because of a knee injury. By the time he returned, Washington was 5-28. The Wizards went 24-25 with Wall in the lineup, and he averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 assists in the 49 games. He said he has added strength, is up to 205 pounds (he was listed at 195 last season) and feels 100 percent healthy heading into training camp.
SportsNation: Wizards playoff bound?
Will the Wizards make the playoffs? Who do you blame more for their five-year postseason drought? Vote!
Wall signed a five-year, $80 million extension on July 31, but he isn't concerned about the added responsibility of the lucrative deal.
"There would be pressure on me either way," he said. "But I love the pressure."
He said he understands why some people don't include him among the top 10 point guards in the NBA, and he hopes to change that soon and move into the conversation with players like Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.
"I like it and use stuff like that as motivation," Wall said. "This is the first time I'll have a full year where I need to be. I feel like I'm a top-five point guard in the league, but I've got to go out there and prove it."
Wall said he has taken a similar approach to Rose and worked on his perimeter shot. Both he and the Chicago Bulls star were considered subpar shooters, largely because both were able to use their athleticism and rarely needed to settle for long jumpers.
"I never had to shoot, but now I'm more confident," Wall said. "I can miss seven or eight shots now and I don't get discouraged."
MORE NBA HEADLINES
- Westbrook to return for OKC; Durant still out
- Bulls' Rose: My confidence through the roof
- Melo doubtful vs. Thunder with back spasms
- NBA denies Kings' protest of loss to Grizzlies