So far in December, Bradley Beal is averaging 26.5 points a game, with the bulk of his points coming from a career-high 51 point performance against the Trail Blazers last Tuesday and a 34 point performance against the Suns on Thursday night. You can watch Beal’s highlights from the Suns game in the video above.
Over the course of the game, Beal made 13 of 22 shots overall, shooting 59.1 percent from the field. But take a look at where Beal took and made his shots. Out of those 22 attempts, only five came from the three point line, where Beal only made one three all night.
Beal’s performance on Thursday is in many ways, a repeat of last Tuesday. He took many midrange two’s, but still scored anyway. Also, 61.5 percent, or eight of his 13 shots were unassisted. With John Wall out due to injury, it is a good thing to see Beal answering the call where he is often creating his own offense.
There is one significant difference between Tuesday’s performance and what we saw yesterday. On Tuesday, Beal only attempted five free throws, but on Thursday, he took nine free throws. Free throws have gradually become more of a part of Beal’s game over the years. According to Basketball Reference, Beal only had a free throw rate (free throw attempts divided by the number of field goal attempts) of 22 percent in the 2015-16 season. That rate went up to 25.9 percent in the 2016-17 season, and it’s 31.1 percent so far this season.
Of course, there’s something that was lacking yesterday, and to a lesser extent this season in general: threes. Beal is shooting only 25 percent on his threes in four games so far this December. Furthermore, he is also only averaging 36 percent this season, a career low, down 40.4 percent last season. Most likely, this is just a blip during a long season, but it’s still worth noting.
The Wizards will face the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday afternoon. LA comes into this game with the fourth-worst defensive rating in the NBA, so Beal should be in a good position to keep his scoring run going.