The Philadelphia 76ers have been without Andrew Bynum all season and may never get him back. However, the Sixers aren’t the only team that has missed their franchise player for a long period of time. The Washington Wizards were missing John Wall for months as well, yet as USA TODAY’s Jason Wolf pointed out on Feb. 18, Wall has come back despite having similar problems to Bynum.
Not only did Wall have bone and cartilage damage to his knees like Bynum, they got injections of the same compound, Synvisc-One, from the same doctor at about the same time. However, Wall returned to action over a month ago, while Bynum may not play until the 2013-14 season for a new team.
Wall didn’t suffer an additional injury while bowling like Bynum did, and Wolf claimed that Wall’s right knee responded better to injections than Bynum’s left knee. Whatever the circumstances are, the undisputable fact is that Wall is playing again and Bynum isn’t, and the Wizards are far better for it.
Wall’s stats aren’t as gaudy as usual through 18 games, as he has only averaged 14.7 points per game. Yet Washington has gone 10-8 with him after starting the season 5-28 without him. Philadelphia could certainly stand to go 10-8 or better over the next month as it fights for the postseason.
The Wizards didn’t have any real expectations this season even with Wall, whereas the Sixers were supposed to be contenders with Bynum. Although Philadelphia still has playoff hopes, unlike Washington, its long term future is still more dire.
Wall is already set as the future of the Wizards’ franchise, while Bynum could leave the Sixers this offseason without ever playing a game for them. There was no real urgency for the Wizards to bring Wall back, even during their 5-28 start, but seeing him return should give them hope for next season when he has fully recovered.
The Sixers may not have a next season with Bynum, and they can’t properly judge if they should seek one until they see him take the court. If that never happens, they will truly be in bigger trouble than the Wizards, which would be very telling indeed.