Bradley Beal is very good. My analysis had him squeaking into the sixth and final All-NBA guard slot last season, which the voters ultimately confirmed. The Wizards seem to believe he’s the kind of elite player to build around, which I don’t agree with.
Still, he’s very good, he’s a prolific and entertaining scorer, and he’s The Guy in Washington. My personal belief is that he’ll never ask out of DC because there’s nowhere else he can get the supermax deal AND be the face of the franchise. Sure, he could sign the supermax extension and then demand a trade, but wherever he goes, he’ll be the second (or third) guy — not the undisputed franchise leader.
Anyway, Beal’s comps (see below) are largely unsurprising — mostly outstanding scorers who played questionable defense and were probably a bit overrated.
Reminder: The Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.
- DeMar Derozan, Toronto Raptors, 2016-17 — Good scorer, good player, iffy defense. Unlike Beal, his teams were usually a little better when he sat.
- Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets, 2006-07 — This was McGrady’s second to last really good season — 173 PPA. Beal’s peak so far is a 160 in 2019-20. McGrady topped out at a different stratosphere — a 235 at age 23 in Orlando.
- Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, 2008-09 — This was Bryant’s age 30 season, and while it wasn’t quite a “last gasp,” it was close. PPA 186, which fell to 149 at 31 before bouncing back to 170 at age 32. After that: 137, 159...and the torn Achilles. He finished out with seasons of 33 (just 6 games in his return), 80 and 62. His peak was a 200 PPA at 27.
- Mark Aguirre, Dallas Mavericks, 1987-88 — At his best, he was a very good small forward for Dallas. This was really his last good season — a 151 PPA at age 28. The following season, he was average for the Mavericks and got traded to the Pistons for Adrian Dantley where he continued to be about average. But, he was also part of those Isiah Thomas, et al. championship teams.
- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, 2016-17 — Lillard had been very good for several seasons. At age 26, he stepped up from a 150s PPA to 172. After that: 194, 193, 213, and 197. The Wizards are hoping Beal makes a similar leap at 28.
- Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks, 2012-13 — This was Anthony’s first full season in New York, and with a 162 PPA, it was the best of his career to that point. The following season, at age 29, was his best — a 173. His last average or better season was 2016-17.
- Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets, 2005-06 — See above. Injuries limited him to 47 games. He still produced a 154 PPA in this, his age 26 season. He came back with a 173, which was really his last hurrah until an average season at 31 with the Pistons. Confession: I’d forgotten he played for Detroit.
- Mark Aguirre, Dallas Mavericks, 1986-87 — See above.
- Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz, 2020-21 — No predictive value here because this was last season, but I’m including him as a barometer of overall quality.
- Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks, 2014-15 — This was the season after the 173 peak PPA. Injuries limited Anthony to 40 games and his production declined to 142 and continued to fall in future years.
The next player on this list: George Gervin in 1979-80. Gervin was a silky-smooth scorer whose best NBA season was a 177 PPA in 1977-78. This season, his age 27 year, was a 159. He hit 173 at 29 a couple years later.
Who’s next through the Doppelgänger Machine?
This poll is closed