Do you always agree with your co-workers on everything that you work together on? The answer is probably not.
In the case of John Wall and Bradley Beal, that certainly is the case. With the recent headlines surfacing of Wall and Beal having on-court turmoil, we need to sit back and reflect on what is actually happening here.
Consider this situation. You have two highly competitive athletes who desire to be the best at what they do. However, they also have to find a way to make this all work within the confines of a team concept. If they can do this, it can help them reach their ultimate goal of winning an NBA championship. It sounds simple, but it really isn’t.
Young players like Wall and Beal are still developing pieces to their game. They are also developing leadership skills and learning about their new coaches and teammates who are also part of the process. That is why when Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks heard the recent headlines, he had this reaction in a recent Washington Post article by Candace Buckner:
“There’s a lot of things I’m worried about going into camp, and every coach in this league is worried about. That is not one of them,” Brooks said of Wall and Beal’s possible rift. “I haven’t even talked to our assistant coaches about it. Will I meet with each player individually? Yes. Will I meet with the team? Yes. Will I meet with the positions together? Yes. But I don’t see our team having a problem with chemistry.”
It’s interesting to see that Brooks doesn’t see this type of behavior as an issue. He even pointed out in the interview that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, both of whom he coached in Oklahoma City cussed each other out at times and even had teammates separate them during games.
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman did a fascinating study back in 1965 called Developmental Sequence in Small Groups. It explains how small groups are generally able to get to the point to perform at a high level. Tuckman’s study broke down four stages of getting to this level of high performance: forming, storming, norming, and performing.
Based on the description of each stage, the acknowledgement of the issues that Wall and Beal would clearly put them at the storming stage. The storming stage is when conflicts between teammates start. They question roles, challenge authority, and take their place. Some of these things certainly describe the chemistry between Wall, Beal, and the Wizards in general.
But what does this mean? It means that at this stage having open disagreements is expected. It is a common dynamic on all teams. It shows that they are both maturing as players and maturing as teammates. What is more concerning is not what has happened, but what happens from this point forward, now that they have both acknowledged this issue.
The Wizards have a new leader in Brooks who has an opportunity to shape the future of what the Wall and Beal tandem will become, for better or worse. They are at a critical stage where they need to figure out how to work together or this team will simply not succeed. Brooks’ abilities to be structured, to assign roles, to mediate conflict, and to organize his game plans will go a long way in establishing where this duo goes from here.
Seeing the Wall and Beal tandem at the storming stage should not alarm us. Some of the most successful teams have had their conflicts and figure things out. But now with the help of Coach Brooks we will get to see if the Wizards, particularly Wall and Beal, will begin the process moving beyond this point and showing that they can play together at a high level. The 2016-17 season will certainly tell us a lot about this duo’s ability to lead this team in the future.