When the Wizards drafted Bradley Beal back in 2012, they envisioned an All-Star backcourt alongside John Wall for years to come. Outside of the 2016-2017 season where Wall made an All-NBA team and Beal was arguably snubbed from his first All-Star appearance, the two have never really played together at the pinnacle of each of their games.
Fast forward a few years and not only has the window closed on a once up and coming backcourt - but Bradley Beal is now the man here in Washington.
His 2018-19 Season
Bradley Beal was the real deal last year.
It seemed like Beal broke records on a near nightly basis. Not only did he pass Gilbert Arenas for most three-pointers made in Wizards franchise history, but he was also the only Washington player to ever average 25-5-5 for a season. Brad was nothing short of remarkable playing a league-high 36.9 minutes per night as he singlehandedly tried to will the Wizards to the 8th and final playoff spot.
Beal’s reputation as a knockdown shooter will continue to follow him around throughout his career, but the 2018-2019 season was just another reminder of how far Brad has come in rounding out his game. Arguably the biggest leap for Beal last season was his ability to finish from close in. He’s nearly perfected his handle and has bulked up so that he can finish in the painted area amongst the trees and through contact. Nearly one-third of Beal’s shots came from 5 feet or closer and he was able to finish at a rate of 65.8 percent.
He’s no longer just known as a scorer now though. Beal became much more of an initiator evidenced as he averaged 5.5 assists, a full assist better than the year prior. Beal’s usage rate was the highest it’s ever been as Brad had the ball in his hands way more often as the clear leader of the team once John Wall was sidelined with a season ending injury.
As the leader of last year’s team, he began to build more and more synergy with the younger guys as the season went on. Him and Thomas Bryant built a very solid rapport in the pick-and-roll game and he served as somewhat of a mentor once Troy Brown Jr. was inserted into the lineup on a regular basis.
We can’t take for granted the season that Bradley Beal put together last year as it was quite possibly one of the best season-long performances that we’ve seen in quite some time.
What His 2019-20 Season Could Look Like
With John Wall sidelined, there’s no question as to who’s the guy on this team.
Bradley Beal will be far and away the best Wizards player on the roster next year and the number of games Washington wins next year will rely heavily on Beal’s play. With the offense revolving around Beal, there’s no reason as to why he can’t turn in another 25-5-5 season, make the All-Star game, and maybe, just maybe, get over the hump and make an All-NBA team.
Beal will have the neon green light next year as far as get his shots up goes. As far and away the best player on the Wizards roster, no shot from Beal will be a bad shot as the second biggest scoring threat at the moment is Thomas Bryant. Brad put up nearly 20 shots per contest last season and there’s no reason to think that number should dip.
For a guy who’s continually added different dimensions to his game every summer, it’ll be interesting to see if Beal improves his three-point shot. The one bugaboo that has followed Beal throughout his career is that he hasn’t turned into the knock down three-point shooter (a la Ray Allen) that many thought he would be coming out of college. Brad shot just 35.1 percent from behind the arc last year. Not the end of the world but if he can get his three-point shooting up to the 40 percent range, he’ll then be in the ballpark to average 30 points per game.
It’s impossible to talk about Beal without mentioning the elephant in the room - will he finish the season in a Wizards uniform? No one is expecting the Wizards to be good next year. So as an inevitable rebuilding season slogs along, will Beal still be content in Washington or will frustration grow as the losses start to mount? The Wizards have said over and over again that they have no interest in dealing Beal. But we’ll see if the front office still feels that way should a contending team offers up a whole bunch of assets and first round picks in exchange for Beal’s services.
Fortunately for Beal, the ball is in his court. The Wizards offered him a three year $111 million dollar extension over the summer and Brad is in no rush to sign it - and why would he. He’s currently set to make $45 million over the final two years of his deal and should he make All-NBA team this summer, that’d make him eligible to sign a five-year $250 million dollar supermax deal. So yeah, you can bet that his agent told him to rip up that three year extension.
The big question that Beal needs to ask himself is, is he willing to stay with this team and undergo another rebuild or is he looking to join forces with a contender and potentially add a championship ring to his trophy case?
One things for sure, the topic of whether to trade Beal or not isn’t going to die down anytime soon and the rumors swirling around him from the national media will likely get louder and louder as the season goes on.