Bradley Beal Is An Impact Rookie
The third overall pick in the NBA Draft is usually expected to make an immediate impact. However, not all high-potential, 19-year-old players are ready for the NBA. The game is faster and the opposing players are better. Many rookies either have trouble adjusting or become overly anxious in an attempt to prove they belong. However, Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal is one of those players who has plenty of potential, but has been able to contribute right away.
“He has shown great poise out on the floor,” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said. “That’s something you can’t teach, especially to 19 year olds. Sometimes it takes a couple of years in the league to develop a poise out on the floor, but he has shown it thus far and it’s something he has to continue to look to do.”
NBA coaches often look for one or two NBA-ready skills that their rookies can build around and use to justify playing time early in their careers, but Beal’s game cannot be pigeon-holed by just one thing he does well. He has already shown a more well-rounded skill set.
“He is a basketball player,” Wittman said. “He gets to the free throw line, he can spread the floor, put the ball on the floor and play pick-and-roll. He’s got a lot of different things that he can do and is not really labeled as a guy who can only do a certain thing.”
Beal’s impressive start in the preseason has not gone unnoticed by his teammates. The 19-year-old has been one of those rookies who looks like they belong from day one.
“I believe so, with the preseason he has had so far, he is that type of guy,” said veteran point guard Jannero Pargo. “He lets the game come to him. He doesn’t press at all. He just relaxes and plays his game and he has been playing really well for us, so I think he is that type of player.
“Just the way he plays the game, he plays at his own pace. He doesn’t rush, he doesn’t get rattled. He just plays his own game and as a rookie, as a 19-year-old, that is very impressive. You would think he would come in and play 100 miles per hour the entire time, but he doesn’t. He has a change of pace, a change of direction and it’s very refreshing for a 19-year-old.”
The only thing that Beal is still adjusting to is the increased physicality of the NBA game. That is something NBA veterans will test him on early and often as the season progresses. In Toronto, the 30-year-old journeyman wing player, Alan Anderson, got into Beal’s space in the first half and temporarily got Beal off his game.
“The only thing that I am having a little bit of trouble with is the physicality of it because there are guys that play my position that are taller than I am and post me up,” Beal said. “So I really have to work at getting stronger and competing down in the post, but mentally, I will be fine. It’s early for me, but I am not using being a rookie as an excuse, that’s not an excuse I like to use.”
“(Beal) allowed guys to kind of dictate to him defensively with shoving and pushing and guys are going to try and do that,” Wittman said. “If they find out what kind of player you are, they are going to get into you. They are going to push you, hold you and do those things and until he got (expletive) off there at the end about it, he kind of just accepted it. He has to make sure he doesn’t allow those things to happen.”
There are lessons Beal still has to learn, but early success is raising expectations. Still, the Wizards are demanding more from the rookie. Based on how easily things have been coming for him so far, Beal probably needs to be pushed for his own good.
“He is very patient with his game,” John Wall said. “But I was just telling him he needs to be more aggressive, especially when he is not starting and he is with the second group.”
“(Coach Wittman) just keeps telling me to be aggressive,” Beal said. “Everybody keeps telling me that. I am trying to be aggressive, but at the same time I am not trying to force it on offense. Really I am just trying to let the game come to me, but at the same time, the coach wants me to be in attack mode all of the time as well as my teammates. It is just a learning process for me. I know I am not used to it. It is the same thing I went through last year in Florida, just coming in and getting used to a new system and new guys and trying to fit in accordingly, but I have to be more assertive.”
For a player who is still getting used to his teammates and trying to fit in, Beal has been putting up preseason statistics similar to his college numbers and doing so in significantly fewer minutes. The sky really does seem to be the limit once Beal gets comfortable and starts playing as aggressively as his coach and teammates think he should.