During this past offseason, Bradley Beal turned a ripe 21 years old. And very soon, the Wizards are expected to make this young man set for life financially, as the sharp-shooting sidekick to D.C.'s own Point God, John Wall.
Beal's shooting stroke is extraordinary. He has picture-perfect form, his elbow tight to his body as he goes up, creating that "L" shape with his shooting arm that every youth basketball coach tries to teach their players. As he and his game mature, we'll continue to see more and more of what makes Beal so special.
For starters, he's shooting a career-high 43.6-percent from beyond the arc which is impressive for any player no matter their age. On the other hand, he's shooting a career-low 4.1 attempts per game. When this young pup is out and running with Wall, look out. Beal is hitting 42.5-percent from the beyond the arc on passes from Wall, and nearly 53-percent of total passes that come to him are from Wall.
When the Wizards initially sent Glen Rice, Jr. down to the D-League before eventually dumping him altogether, there was an emphasis on his inability to catch and shoot. He needed too much time with the ball in his hands to create his shot. Beal is quite the opposite, as the following chart shows his improved percentage from beyond the arc in catch and shoot situations, where he and Wall thrive.
|Frequency||Made||Attempted||3 Point Percentage|
That's what the team was looking for, and Beal provides them with that option. Beal's lack of long-distance shooting has been made clearer by Randy Wittman's infatuation with his players taking midrange jumpers. This season, though, he's shooting drastically less from midrange than his first two seasons.
Here's a look at the number of midrange shots he's taken per game pre-All Star break as compared to his attempts at this time in his first two seasons:
So where are his shots coming from if he's shooting career-low percentages in three-point attempts and midrange attempts? At the basket.
Cumulatively, more of his shots are coming within 10 feet than ever before in his career. But guess what? Beal's averaging a career low in free throw attempts per game, at just 2.5.
Now, this is where he should get better with maturation and his understanding of how referees call fouls near the hoop because, as most of Wizards nation has discussed via social media, Beal never seems to get fouls called for him.
James Harden is a master at this and while I don't condone many of Harden's techniques for drawing fouls, they definitely get he and his team what they need most -- free points. (He's averaging a league-leading 9.3 free throw attempts per game, FWIW).
To put all this into perspective, Houston Rockets guard Alexey Shved, who plays just over 13 minutes per game, gets to the line more often than Beal (2.6 attempts per game for Shved to 2.5 for Beal), though Beal plays more than 20 minutes longer per game than Shved.
As I mentioned, these problems should fix themselves as Beal grows into his own in this league. He's a young buck and a student of the game. Nothing, other than his freak stress injury issue, should come in the way of him becoming an All Star for many years.