Better Know A 2012 NBA Draft Pick: Bradley Beal

Mar 18, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal (23) brings the ball up the court against the Norfolk State Spartans during the first half in the third round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Editor's Note, by Mike: The 2012 NBA Draft is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start looking at this year's prospects. We've enlisted the help of a couple of our community's top draftnicks to break down as many prospects as possible from this year's class, whether they're high-lottery picks, potential first-round sliders or sleepers that could make an impact on a team from the second round. First up: Bradley Beal, by the artist formerly known as pantslessyoda1.

Team: Florida

Expected draft position: Top Eight

College career recap: Beal came to Florida as a top ten recruit on a Gators team that was widely expected to contend for a championship this season. Armed with the NCAA's third-best offensive rating but a very mediocre defense, they finished the season one missed three-pointer from beating Louisville and making the Final Four. Beal played out of position at small forward on a regular basis and earned a reputation as a scorer who relishes contact around the basket and who stepped up as a team leader and even occasional defensive stopper when small forward Will Yeguete was injured.

Basic Statistics Per 40 Pace Adjusted (via Draft Express)

Year

GP

Min

Pts

FG

FGA

FG%

2PtA

2P%

3PtA

3P%

FTA

FT%

Off

Def

TOT

Asts

Stls

Blks

TOs

2011/12

37

34.2

17.4

5.6

12.5

44.5

6.6

54.1

5.9

33.9

5.5

76.9

1.6

6.3

7.9

2.6

1.6

1.0

2.5



Best attributes: Despite a reputation as a Ray Allen-esque shooter, Beal's percentages were fairly mediocre last year. Shooting 45 percent from the floor, 54 percent on two pointers, 35 percent on threes and 76 percent from the line, Beal is closer to Rip Hamilton or Eric Gordon than Ray Allen or as a shooter coming out of college. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for a guy who will most likely make a living as a shooter, it's not great.

However, Beal makes up for being more good than great as a shooter by having a very solid all-around game, especially compared to similar shooting/scoring specialists. Beal averaged about eight rebounds per pace adjusted 40 minutes last year, indicating a surprising level of athleticism for a guy who's roughly 6'4'' and not particularly long or strong. Only two shooting guards averaged more (one being Will Barton, who I wrote about earlier), and neither has flashed his upside as a shooter. For the sake of comparison, Dwyane Wade as a junior averaged eight rebounds per pace adjusted 40 minutes and Rajon Rondo averaged eight as a sophmore at Kentucky. Neither Evan Turner or Landry Fields approached Beal's rebounding numbers as freshmen.

Since Beal is still extremely young, this bodes even better for his future as a guy who can contribute more than just points.

Biggest weakness: Beal is estimated to be roughly 6'4'', which is relatively small for a shooting guard. He's strong, but he's not huge, and he might struggle to defend larger shooting guards at the next level, especially jump shooters and guys with high release points like Marshon Brooks, Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson and Kyle Korver. Sharing a backcourt with John Wall should allow him to cross match from time to time, but Wall's not particularly well equipped to guard those guys either, plus it would be bad strategy for Wall to expend all of his energy chasing Korver through screens when he needs to run the offense.

At the same time, Allen is similar to Beal in terms of size and body type, and Beal's played adequate defense whenever he's been motivated. In his defense, Beal is young enough the he could conceivably grow a little bit more, plus large shooting guards with accurate jumpers tend to be the exception rather than the rule in today's NBA.

He's also not a terribly explosive finisher. Beal tends to lay the ball in when he goes to the hoops and lacks the hops and quickness to finish over and through defenders even at the NCAA level. He'll make his living outside of the paint, but you'd prefer that he be able to take greater advantage of teams that lack elite shot blockers, plus his inability to penetrate at an elite level will most likely prevent him from being able to run the offense when Wall is off the court.

Why he'd fit in D.C.: He'd immediately become the best three-point shooter on a long-term deal. Currently, Cartier Martin is the only Wizard with an above average three point shot, and the organization has shown no signs of making him a part of its long-term plans yet. With athletic finishers like Nene, Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin rolling to the basket and Wall constantly slashing to the hoop, the Wizards' spacing is very poor and they lack anyone who can regularly make teams pay for playing a zone or sagging into the paint.

Even if Beal doesn't live up to his reputation as a shooter and averages only 36 or 37 percent from downtown, he'll help the Wizards offense tremendously by constantly forcing teams to account for him and making them pay when they help on their bigs or drives by Wall or Jordan Crawford.

Beal's also a reasonably talented passer, averaging 2.6 per pace adjusted 40 minutes, has a reputation as a good teammate, and played on a Florida team that finished third in the nation in offensive rating while making the Elite 8. All of these qualities will fit nicely on a Wizards team that is slowly but surely building an identity as a hustling team built around a pass-first point guard with multiple big men who can pass well out of both the low post and the high post and who excel at moving without the ball.

In short, Bradley Beal is a team player on a team that's built around team players.

Why he might not: He's not very big for a wing, which might lead to problems defending the position at the next level. Bigger shooting guards like Tyreke Evans, Dwyane Wade, Rodney Stuckey and Joe Johnson will most likely give him trouble, plus he didn't have a reputation for being a particularly intense defender on a fairly lackluster defensive team in college. He could also wind up being more good than great as a shooter, which might not be enough for this team if he's playing next to guys like Booker, Vesely, Nene, Seraphin and Singleton who are at best unreliable from the outside. Shooting guards who shoot a mediocre percentage on two-pointers and don't draw a ton of fouls tend to be relatively inefficient NBA players, too.

Verdict: Pick him, but evaluate other guys. He doesn't look like an off the charts offensive dynamo a la Stephen Curry, James Harden or Brandon Roy coming out of college, but Beal is definitely solid. A reasonable pro comparison for him would be Eric Gordon. They're similar in terms of height, but Gordon gets to the line a lot more and was a superior playmaker coming out of college, while Beal is a much better rebounder with more upside as a shooter, even if it's based more on his reputation than his actual results. He won't be a franchise player, but he has the potential to be a very very good one who might ride an elite team's coattails into an all-star game or two.

He's also a perfect fit for the team, both as its currently constructed and where it will most likely be in a few years, and he'll have a mutually beneficial relationship with Wall.

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