WASHINGTON - The Wizards haven’t experienced a lot of consistency throughout the first 37 games of the season for various reasons, but one bright spot of consistency has come from Bradley Beal. His play this season is a prime example of how he’s taken his game to another level.
The biggest area where he has grown is playmaking. Being labeled just a “shooter” has never appealed to Beal, it makes him angry. He’d rather wear Celtics green before he would accept being called merely a shooter.
“I kind of hate the label of just being known as a shooter because that’s one-dimensional,” Beal said back in November. “That’s all you’re known for. I want to be considered as a playmaker, a guy who can put the ball on the floor and create shots for himself as well as for his teammates.”
He got a chance to show how he’s developed into a complete offensive weapon when John Wall was sidelined for nearly three weeks with knee issues. He demonstrated he was capable of scoring, facilitating the offense in larger doses and controlling the flow of a game.
But after a red-hot stretch where he scored 110 points over a three-games, he hit a rough patch in mid-December where he shot under 40 percent from the field over a five-game stretch, including a 4 points on 15 shots in the Wizards’ blowout loss on the road to the Nets.
Over the last week, however, he’s found his rhythm again. He scored 25 in the Wizards’ Christmas Day win over the Celtics and 21 against Houston’s talented backcourt on Friday. On Sunday, he put up 39 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds against the Chicago Bulls which helped him earn Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. After the game, he credited a consistent approach for how he was able to snap out of a slump earlier in the month and get back on track.
"I might have games where I don’t might make any, and games where I make seven, and games where I make two. That doesn’t change my confidence," Beal said after Sunday’s game. "I continue to shoot the same way, with the same mechanics, and the same mentality. I believe that every shot is going to go in. I was happy and fortunate that they were falling tonight.”
With Beal’s offensive surge and Wall’s return from injury, the Wizards find themselves heading in the right direction. They’re 7-3 since Wall returned, their best ten-game stretch of the season so far.
"It’s all about winning games and if you win games and you play for each other, individual awards come," Scott Brooks said after Sunday’s game. "If you focus on that, you’re focused on the wrong things. I’ve talked to Brad many, many times and he has not mentioned All-Star to me.”
After the game, he made his pitch to anyone who would listen about Beal’s impact.
"Brad’s an All-Star," Brooks said. "I thought he was an All-Star last year, he led us in a lot of different games and [averaged] 23 points. It’s not just the 23 points, it’s the defensive play that he does, it’s the passing. We’re very blessed, we have two guys in the backcourt that are All-Stars."