Bradley Beal's Evolution into a Great Scorer

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Even as a 21 year old player in the NBA, we all know that Bradley Beal has the ability to be a very good scorer in the NBA, but it seems that there is something that has continued to hold his game back, at least until recently. In the past 3 games, Bradley is averaging 22.3 points per game, while shooting 39% (7 for 18) from 3 point range, and shooting 80% (12 for 15) from the free throw line. Pretty decent statistics, but the debate that has come around to most of us Wizards fans that follow the team regularly, and that is, what is holding him back from putting these numbers up more consistently. Is it shooting too many long-2s and not enough 3s or is it a lack of aggression going to the basket and getting to the free throw line? It's a complex question that I think has it's fair share of supporters from either side but I believe going forward one or both of these areas are going to have to see an increase if he expects to be an elite scorer. Let's break this down.

Let's start with free throws. Bradley Beal attempted 10 free throws last night which is the most he has attempted since 12/29/14 against Houston and these two games are the only time he has attempted double digit free throw attempts this season in 41 games. By comparison, James Harden has had 5 games in just the past month where he has attempted at least 10 free throws and 18 games with that many attempts for the season in 49 games. Also according to, Bradley Beal's free throws make up 13.7% of his scoring. Here is a look at how notable shooting guards around the league stack up:

NBA Guard Comparison of Scoring Percentage By Free Throws

Player % scored from FT
Jimmy Butler 30.5%
James Harden 29.5%
Kobe Bryant 25.1%
Dwyane Wade 20.4%
J.J. Redick 15.7%
Monta Ellis 15.3%
Klay Thompson 13.9%
Kyle Korver 12.8%
Joe Johnson 12.6%

So he's not as big and strong as Jimmy Butler is with his ability to go to the basket, and he doesn't have as good of handles as James Harden, but is it unrealistic for him to get as much of his scoring from free throws as JJ Redick? Perhaps this number could improve with more accuracy at the free throw line, but nonetheless, it's clear that Beal does not score as much of his points from the free throw line as much as the elite scorers at his position.

But what about the 3 point shooting? Could increasing his 3 point shooting improve his scoring? Right now he has a very similar percentage of scoring from free throws as Klay Thompson but Klay averages 22.4 ppg compared to Beal's 15.4 ppg, so how is this possible?

NBA Guard Comparison of Scoring Percentage By Three Point Shooting

Klay Thompson 3 point shooting contributes to 42.2% of his scoring while it contributes 36.4% for Bradley Beal. He also attempts nearly 3 more 3 pointers a game compared to Beal (7.1 versus 4.2). Their accuracy is very similar (43.6 versus 44.6), where Thompson is slightly more accurate, so it seems the argument for more attempts can be made, which likely contributes to Klay scoring more points. Also considering the mid range shooting. Beal shoots 4.7 mid-range jumpers a game at 33.7%, where Thompson shoots 4.2 mid-range jumpers a game and shoots at 43%. Maybe Beal just isn't a great mid-range shooter, and maybe settling for those instead of taking more 3s has also affected his ability to score.

To summarize this up, of the notable shooting guards who make a larger percentage of their points from the free throw line, all of them except Redick average more points than Beal. Only Redick and Thompson have a larger percentage of 3 pointers contributing to their scoring than Beal. So the question then becomes, is more free throws going to make Beal a better scorer or more 3 point shooting? Or is there a way that he can improve both? Perhaps by taking less mid-range jumpers? What do you believe needs to happen to his game to improve his scoring?

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.