John Wall's season debut is about more than him slipping on a new pair of Adidas sneakers, sliding on bright red pads to cover his knees and pulling that white No. 2 Washington Wizards jersey over his head for the first time since last April.

For Wall, returning to the court on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks — regardless if it's coming off the bench or playing limited minutes — represents an opportunity to take the first steps toward restoring some of the joy that has been taken away through two seasons stuck in lottery misery and a third that has been derailed because of an irksome stress injury in his left patella.

"I'm going to be anxious and super excited, so I'll probably get tired in probably 30 seconds, because I haven't played in so long," Wall said, wiping sweat from his brow after Friday's practice. "It's exciting to be out there with my teammates, have fun and play with the team I wanted to play with all season."