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Bradley Beal and the saddest entry into 3,000 minute club

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Beal spent the first four seasons of his career trying and failing to prove he could handle the grind of an 82-game season. Since then, he’s turned into one of the most durable and dependable players in the league.

He hasn’t missed a game due to injury since December 30, 2016 when sat out a game with a sprained ankle, although he did miss the final game of the 2016-17 season when Scott Brooks rested all his starters before the start of the playoffs. Since then, Beal hasn’t missed a game. He’s made 145 straight regular season appearances and logged more playing time than anyone else in the league over that time.

This season alone, Beal leads the league in minutes played, even though he’s played two fewer games than Jrue Holiday, who has logged the second-most minutes. If he keeps this pace up the rest of the season, he’ll play 3,066 minutes, which would be the most a player has logged since James Harden played 3,125 in the 2015-16.

3,000 minute seasons have become rare as teams have gotten more conscious about load management. There were 173 3,000 minute seasons between 2000-01 and 2009-10. There have only been 21 since the start of the 2010-11 season and two-thirds of them came in 2010-11 and 2012-13 (no one reached the mark in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season).

However, unlike most of the other seasons on this list, there’s a high chance Beal’s marathon season won’t lead to a playoff appearance. There have only been a seven instances this decade where a player has played over 3,000 minutes and not reached the playoffs. Two came in 2016-17 when Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins both went over 3,000 for the 31-51 Timberwolves. Two more came in 2010-11 when Monta Ellis and Dorell Wright both reached the mark for the 36-46 Warriors. The rest (Blake Griffin in 2010-11, Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan in 2012-13) featured young stars who didn’t have enough talent around them to make a playoff push.

Griffin was the only player in that group to make the All-Star Game during that same season. Beal is on track to join him, and unlike Griffin, who was just finding his way in the league, Brad is right in the middle of his prime. While there’s still time for the Wizards to make one last push to get back in the playoffs or dial Beal’s minutes back once it’s clear they’re out of the running, it’s still unfortunate to see so many high-quality minutes wasted.