NBA AM: Bradley Beal, More Than Just A Shooter
One of the surefire players expected to hear their names called within the first ten picks of the 2012 NBA Draft is former University of Florida standout Bradley Beal. The 6’4 shooting guard and early draft entrant is projected to go no lower than fifth according to scouts close to the process.
Armed with a smooth shooting stroke, elite range to go with it and fresh off a starring role in Florida’s Elite Eight NCAA Tournament run, Beal is being hailed as the most NBA ready shooting guard in this year’s draft class and it’s not hard to see why.
In his lone collegiate season at Florida, Beal averaged 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest on 45 percent shooting from the field (34 percent from three-point range). But it was his play during the NCAA Tournament which catapulted Beal to the top of draft boards and ultimately spurred his decision to pursue his NBA dreams.
“It was a tough decision because I’m the type of kid who likes school,” Beal said at the Chicago Draft Combine. “I actually enjoy doing schoolwork and things like that. I felt as though I created a bond with my teammates already and we could have had a great team next year. We were so close being in the Final Four this year. I felt as though we could have did the same thing next year. But it was just a situation where an opportunity was presented it front of me that I had to take advantage of.”
Led by Beal, who averaged 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in postseason play, the Gators defeated Virginia, Norfolk State and Marquette during the tournament before suffering a four point loss to Louisville in the Elite Eight.
Beal’s combination of scoring and rebounding during the postseason run shed off some of the earlier labels that he was just an outside scorer.
“I would describe my game as [being] an overall player,” Beal said. I don’t like to limit myself as just a shooter like Ray Allen.”
In HOOPSWORLD’s latest mock draft, Beal is projected to be selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 4 overall pick which would pair him with 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving to form a very talented, young and dynamic backcourt of the future.
Wherever Beal is ultimately selected he promises to bring his competitive nature to the league, one spurred by constantly competing against his four brothers.
“It was competitive,” Beal said about growing up in a household with four brothers. “You compete at everything. We always competed [with each other]. But at the same time we always supported one another. We’re real close. We’re like best friends.”
One area Beal is working to showcase is his ability to create shots for himself, a task he didn’t have to do much at Florida playing alongside a couple playmakers.
“My ability to create for myself,” Beal readily admits when asked what he’d like to showcase to scouts. “I know there are a lot of concerns about my ability to create for myself along with others because I had two great guards with me who had the ball most of the time and were distributing the ball more than I was. So I think that would be the biggest thing I need to showcase.”
Miami HEAT Snag Rare Win In Boston, Survive For Game Seven: Trailing their Eastern Conference series 3-2, the Miami HEAT entered Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics hearing rampant talk of whether it was time to break up their “Big Three” experiment, questions about their mental toughness and head coach Erik Spoelstra’s job likely hanging in the balance.
However when the dust settled, the HEAT emerged with a 98-78 victory over Boston which forced a pivotal game seven and temporarily silenced the outside noise plaguing the team. The one player in particular who was the primary driver in the team’s success was LeBron James who finished with 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists.
James, who is much maligned at times for his play in the clutch, didn’t use an array of screaming, yelling or rah-rah speeches to inspire his teammates, but more of a look which reflected intense focus on the moment at hand. There was no smiling or flamboyant celebrating after made baskets and no complaining to referees after perceived missed calls – just a look of determination.
“Y’all see that look he had on his face tonight?” Heat guard Mario Chalmers asked according to Michael Wallace of ESPN. “He had that look on his face since last night at dinner. We knew he was going to come out ready to play. That’s why he’s the MVP. I call it his ugly look.”
HEAT forward James Jones noticed a change of James from earlier in the series as well.
“To be able to play the game the way he played it, you can’t have these huge emotional swings, those big highs and lows,” Jones said. “You could tell he was a little more focused because of the magnitude of this one. Even in the huddles, he had this energy, this activity. He was upbeat like there was no question he could play every minute and every second if we needed him to. Very few guys can do that. He’s one of them. That’s what makes him who he is.”
Game seven will take place in Miami on Saturday night. The winner of that game will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals.
Knicks’ Shumpert Says Recovery Going Well: New York Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert’s rookie season ended suddenly and prematurely in the first round of the playoffs after he suffered a torn ACL. Prior to the injury, the former Georgia Tech star had earned a solid spot in the Knicks’ nightly rotation and was establishing himself as one of the league’s next batch of elite perimeter defenders.
Shumpert is still recovering from a surgery deemed successful and doesn’t expect to be walking until sometime next week
“They say I’m right on target with everything, I’ll be walking next week,” Shumpert told Anthony Sulla-Heffinger. “I’m being really optimistic about it, really happy about it, hopefully it picks up soon.”
One plus for a developing player is consistency at the head coach position. Shumpert had two as a rookie with Mike D’Antoni and Mike Woodson splitting the season. The Knicks have since signed Woodson to a multi-year deal and Shumpert can’t wait until the start of training camp.
“I think [having Coach Woodson back] is going to be great,” Shumpert said. “We’ll have a whole training camp together. I would love to have the whole team back. I like that group of guys. With the injuries I experienced in my rookie year I would like to have it back and have a healthy year. I always feel like I can play better.”
The Knicks finished the lockout shortened season 36-30 and reached the postseason for the second consecutive season after a six season drought. The team has not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since the 2000 season where they lost in the finals to the San Antonio Spurs.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats today starting with senior NCAA basketball analyst Yannis Koutroupis who will drop his weekly chat at 11 a.m. EST. Next up is salary cap expert Larry Coon who goes live at 3:00 p.m. EST. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats or if you are looking for a chat that already completed try here: Previous NBA Chats