Wizards' Wall benefiting from Coach Cassell

Wizards' Wall benefiting from Coach Cassell
April 7, 2013, 6:00 pm
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BOSTON -- It's no coincidence that the Wizards are playing the best basketball of their season since John Wall's return from a left knee injury.

The Wizards are 24-19 since his return, and he's averaging 18.0 points, 7.6 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in those games.

By all accounts, Wall is a hard worker on and off the court. It's pretty obvious to see now. But he's also had some important figures by his side - and in his ear - before, during, and after his injury.

One of those people is Sam Cassell. Cassell, who won a championship with the Celtics in 2008 has since turned to coaching. He retired after that championship season and became an assistant coach of the Wizards, where he remains today.

"Big mentor," Wall said of Cassell. "Somebody that's scored 16,000 points in this league … He probably was one of the best at the mid-range area jump shot, something that I'm adding to my game and having a lot of confidence in in working out with him. Doing competitive drills of shooting and seeing who can win. The student has been beating the teacher lately, so he really don't like that."

It's no surprise to hear that Cassell remains very competitive to this day, as he was one of the bigger trash talkers during his career that spanned from 1993-2008.

"Oh, that's the best thing about him," Wall said. "I'm the same way. When I play, that's the only way you know how to play. When you're competitive, it's talk. It's no disrespect, it's no bad mouthing it's just fun. That's how people get themselves going."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who played against Cassell, and then coached him for one season, understands how the Cassell-Wall relationship is good for both sides. And he sn't surprised at all to see Cassell transitioning so smoothly to the coaching side of the game.

"He wanted to … You knew that's where he wanted to go," Rivers said. "And he's done a great job. I'm really happy for Sam. Sam will be a head coach. And he's just working it. He understands that, and it's really a neat thing for Sam as much as John I guess too. With the experiences that Sam's had to be able to impart on John, and John being a good kid and a listener, I think it's a great combination."