Last week, our friends at CSN Washington debated whether the Washington Wizards should start Bradley Beal or Jordan Crawford at shooting guard on opening night. Frank Hanrahan suggested that the Wizards were too bad last year to afford to bring Beal along slowly, while Ben Standig wrote that starting Crawford is the right move because the Wizards will win more right away.
My only thought: this is all really much ado about nothing.
I'm not usually one to make a lot out of the idea of "competition," since true "competition" is hard to achieve in a league where everyone has a guaranteed contract. But what's the point of handing Beal the job in August before his first training camp?There's really no upside. If Beal is named the starter now, suddenly he has to deal with a lot more pressure in trying to live up to his high billing. Meanwhile, Crawford will metaphorically stew in a corner because he isn't even given a chance to keep his job, a headache that Randy Wittman can't afford to have given the need for Crawford to refine his game. Why throw gasoline on his fire and elevate a 19-year old kid before you know what he's capable of picking up?
The better solution: make Beal win the job.
For one thing, it'll force him to take charge more than he did in college. If he wants to be a starter right away, he needs to beat out a player that won't surrender anything to anyone. He was too deferential at Florida, and it hurt him early in the season. A competition with Crawford, one of the most outspoken players in the league, is the perfect test to see how far Beal's resolve has com since last year.
For another, what's the worst that could happen from an open competition? Maybe Crawford wins, which means a 19-year old has to spend the first bit of his career coming off the bench. That's hardly a death sentence. And heck, given Beal's skill set, a sixth-man role may be somewhere where he actually thrives. We just don't know.
Neither do the coaches, really. They know Crawford, but Beal is a blank canvas. Player development isn't filling Beal's canvas for him, it's giving him the tools so he can do his own painting. Why stunt that process by shutting a door on a position that Beal hasnt even won yet?