Bradley Beal struggled mightily in his first professional game, and while he's bound to get much better going forward, there were still some discouraging signs.
It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game. It's just one game.
OK, good. Now that we've got that out of the way, we have to confront the obvious: Bradley Beal was not very good last night. He hit two three-pointers in the first six minutes and seemed to be aggressive getting his shots off ... and then he disappeared. Worse, Dion Waiters, the man taken one pick after him, had an aggressive game, scoring 17 points and generally abusing Beal in the pick in roll.
This simply wasn't the inspiring debut we were all hoping to see. There were brief moments in the preseason where Beal really asserted himself and took over games, but they were few and far between. For the most part, he got his offense on spot-ups and coming off screens, but he didn't really take advantage of chances to get to the basket. It's hard to say Beal had a bad preseason, but he also left you wanting something more. Last night, he really left you wanting something more.
To a certain extent, some of this could be pinned on Randy Wittman. So far, the Wizards' coach has been reluctant to put his rookie in a lot of high pick and rolls, choosing instead to run him off screens more often. While Beal is potentially an elite catch-and-shoot player, these kinds of plays don't exactly lend itself as well to aggressive. A smart player can attack off curls; a rookie, even one as skilled as Beal, faces a tougher adjustment. By contrast, Byron Scott seemed to have no issues giving Waiters some looks in the high pick and roll, even with Kyrie Irving on the court. I'd like to see Wittman just turn Beal loose and force him to learn how to be aggressive, especially with John Wall injured.
But a lot of this is on Beal too. He had two chances to go by Waiters and get to the rim on high pick and rolls, and Waiters stripped him both times. He did a lot of standing around in half-court sets instead of running into open space, and while the Wizards' current point guards aren't exactly adept at finding open guys, Beal could have done more to make their lives easier. Beal's defense on Waiters was also very bad, with lots of poor angles on pick and roll coverage and on closeouts, and that has nothing to do with how Wittman uses him.
It's just a bit disheartening because this was the knock on Beal in college. He has such a smooth game that he sometimes fades back when someone comes back at him. That has to change in the NBA, because nobody is going to do him any favors.
And with John Wall and Nene sidelined, there's no better time to go all out than right now.