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Wizards’ Bradley Beal On An All-Star Path?
Posted By Stephen Brotherston On February 16, 2013 @ 3:00 pm In All Star,Friday,Main Page | No Comments
The Washington Wizards’ season has not gone exactly as planned. When John Wall went down with a left patella stress injury, the carefully revamped Wizards went from dark horse playoff contender to lottery fodder in one quick move and no one was more directly impacted than rookie guard Bradley Beal. The third pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, the young shooting guard was going to get all the minutes he could handle and the team was counting on him to be productive almost immediately.
Beal was known for his excellent shooting mechanics in college, but his decision-making often left something to be desired and without Wall in the lineup to start the season, Beal was going to have the ball in his hands more than would be ideal for a rookie learning his craft at the next level. Beal was going to be asked to develop some skills more than a little ahead of what was reasonable to expect.
“I have learned a lot,” Beal said. “Not so much the physical part, it is more mental than anything. [You] have to be focused and ready for all the pressure that is going to be on you and I think I have done a pretty good job of handling that. It was just with John [Wall] out, it was kind of difficult for me as all eyes were on me, but once he got back everything kind of got going.”
In Beal’s first 31 games before Wall returned, the Wizards put the ball in his hands a lot and he responded by averaging 13.1 points per game. The league acknowledged his efforts with two Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards, but the high usage rate and points produced disguised some very poor shooting. Beal was averaging just 36.7 percent from the field. It was taking a lot of shots to get those points.
Wall’s return to the Wizards in mid-January had an immediate impact on the team and on Beal’s play. After winning just five of their first 33 games without Wall, the Wizards have gone 10-8 since and Beal’s efficiency has taken a huge step forward. In Beal’s last 13 games, the rookie has boosted his field goal percentage to 46.5 and maintained his scoring at 13.5 points per game.
At the All-Star festivities in Houston, Beal reflected on his decision to go professional.
“Super, super surreal, it just happened so fast,” Beal said. “Last year, I was debating whether to leave [college] or not. If I think about it, we could have a great team in Florida. They are doing well, but we could have been even better. [However] I know I made the right decision because I am having success in the NBA and everything is going right so far.”
Beal’s numbers could have been even better after Wall’s return except a wrist injury caused him to miss 11 days starting at the end of January. In the two games before Beal was advised to rest his wrist, he shot 2-10 and 2-6 and in the first game after his return, Beal had a 1-5 performance. Since then Beal has re-found his shooting touch and in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge game, Beal scored 12 points on 5-10 shooting from the field and hit on 2-4 three point attempts.
“I am just going to have fun [in the Rising Stars Challenge] and try not to do anything stupid out there and hurt myself or whatever,” Beal said. “I am just going to play my game and have fun doing it.”
Like everyone else on Team Chuck Friday night, Beal was able to enjoy a 163-135 thrashing of Team Shaq.
The 19-year-old guard has already been honored twice as the best rookie in the Eastern Conference and his play has dramatically improved since then. Now with Wall taking some of the defensive pressure off, Beal should be expected to continue to improve over the balance of the season. This year’s appearance in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge may be just one of many future appearances at All-Star weekend.
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