As we wrote last week, Bradley Beal improved in just about every area last season. Not only did he improve his shot selection and efficiency, but he took steps forward as a distributor as well. He posted career highs in assists per game as well as assist percentage.
Beal managed all that even though he had to share the floor with John Wall for most of the season. He played 2,362 of his 2,684 regular season minutes (88 percent!) alongside Wall, which limited his opportunities to be the focal point of the offense and create playmaking opportunities.
Scott Brooks indicated that could change next season in an episode of The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix. Around the 21 minute mark of the episode, Brooks spoke about what he learned from coaching Beal last season and how he’d like to use him differently next season:
I knew he was a good player. I knew he had a lot of good offensive skill. But I didn’t really know if he could facilitate as a playmaking, ballhandling two-guard. As the season went on, I thought we did a better job of really utilizing some of the things that he can do.
Going into next season, we can stagger some of his minutes so he doesn’t always have to play with John and vice-versa. They can both help each other and help our team score points with their ability to attract defensive schemes. They’re hard to guard, they both can score, but they both can help their teammates score.
Based on Beal’s workouts this summer, it looks like he’ll be ready for whatever role he needs to play next season. That said, it’s important to make sure that his efforts aren’t wasted in lineups that counteract his efficiency.
This plan hinges on how well Tim Frazier, Tomas Satoransky, and Jodie Meeks perform. If Beal is going to run the offense more with Wall off the court, either Frazier or Satoransky will need to improve their shooting to give Beal adequate spacing, or perhaps Brooks will need to use Meeks as an off-ball point guard to keep defenses honest.
It’s good to see Brooks is open to staggering Wall and Beal more often this season and giving Beal more chances to facilitate, but it needs to be done the right way. If Brooks can find a way to make staggered lineups effective next season, it will make it much easier to manage rotations and keep Wall and Beal’s minutes down next season.