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Bradley Beal’s struggles in late-game situations say more about the Wizards than they do about him

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards took down the Heat 117-113 on Tuesday, but it was only after Bradley Beal missed an opportunity to give Washington the win in regulation on this futile attempt in the closing seconds.

The miss led to plenty of discussion regarding Beal’s struggles late in games and prompted NBC Sports Washington to share the following statistics before overtime started:

When a stat like that pops up, it’s easy to start a narrative that Bradley Beal just can’t get the job done when it matters. But here’s the reality: Every player in the league is bad in those situations.

15 players have attempted at least five shots in games this season where their team is down by 3 or fewer points with under 10 seconds left, and none of them are shooting above 40 percent. Here’s the full breakdown, via NBA.com:

  • Russell Westbrook: 4-11
  • Bradley Beal: 1-10
  • Jimmy Butler: 0-10
  • DeMar DeRozan: 2-9
  • Damian Lillard: 3-8
  • Spencer Dinwiddie: 2-8
  • Kemba Walker: 0-7
  • Tyreke Evans: 1-6
  • Kristaps Porzingis: 2-6
  • Kris Dunn: 1-5
  • C.J. McCollum: 1-5
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo: 2-5
  • Josh Richardson: 1-5
  • Dwyane Wade: 1-5
  • LeBron James: 1-5

So yes, Beal has not been great in late-game situations, but the same is true for every star player. Even Westbrook, the only player who has made more than two shots in those situations, has gotten it done while largely settling for contested jumpers, much like the rest of the players on this list. Trying to get a bucket when everyone in the arena knows you’re trying to score is extremely difficult.

The teams who have had the most success in those tight situations are the teams who are the most willing to diversify their approach late in games. The Clippers, who have the best field goal percentage in those situations, have had four different players attempt a shot. The Thunder, who are also high on the list, have had four different players take a shot. Three different players have made shots for the Rockets in those situations, and none of them are James Harden.

Five players have taken shots for Washington in those situations, but Jodie Meeks, Mike Scott, and Marcin Gortat’s attempts all came on desperation heaves to beat the clock. The other 13 shots have all either gone to Beal or Wall, and that makes the team extremely predictable. They’re the third-worst team in the league shooting the ball in those situations this season.

Last season, they weren’t much better. They only made 3 of their 17 shots in those situations, and that includes Markieff Morris’ shot to beat Portland which referees admitted after the game should not have counted. If you take that shot out, Washington is 3-of-32 on shots in games where they’re down by 3 or less with under 10 seconds to play since Scott Brooks took over as the Wizards’ head coach.

Until Washington can find a way to diversify their late-game attack, these problems are going to keep happening. There’s only so much one player can do to fix these problems.