Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal Impressing with Improved Play

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Bradley Beal
WASHINGTON, USA - APRIL 26: Washington Wizards Bradley Beal walks through the crowd after defeating the Toronto Raptors 125-94 during game 4 of the playoff series in Washington, USA on April 26, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Joe Jacquez provides his impressions of Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards after seeing them in person on Thursday against the Suns.

The Washington Wizards are 5-4 in nine games without John Wall in the lineup, and Bradley Beal has been a big reason why.

The 24-year-old shooting guard out of Florida has lit it up from the field. Beal has scored 85 points in his last two games — an average of 42.1 points per game — and only two players, LeBron James and James Harden have had higher two-game scoring totals this season. He scored a career-high 51 points against the Trail Blazers in Portland on Tuesday and then dropped 34 against the Suns in Phoenix on Thursday.

Beal has been one of the best two-guards in the Eastern Conference for the last few years, but many have criticized him for relying too much on Wall. There is no doubt that Wall and Beal make each other better and form one of the best one-two guard combinations in the NBA.

But the most impressive thing about Beal this season is he no longer has to rely on Wall to score. He has been able to create his own shot. Beal has shown an ability to score from anywhere on the court and has been more aggressive in the post and at the rim.

Creating His Own Shot

The most telling trend around Beal’s improvement has been his ability to score at will by himself. In his rookie season, 74.1 percent of his made field goals were assisted compared to 25.9 percent unassisted.

Since 2012-13, his percentage of assisted field goals has decreased and his percentage of unassisted field goals has increased. In his second season, 63.6 percent of his field goals were assisted compared to 36.4 percent unassisted. He still relied heavily on a teammate’s pass but with less frequency.

Beal’s ratios slightly decreased in his third season, but only 7.6 percentage points separated the two ratios in 2015-16. His numbers took a turn for the worse last season, but he has bounced back again in a big way this year.

Beal has scored 51.2 percent of his field goals without an assist and 61.0 percent of his two-point shots. Both are the highest rates of his career. Beal’s numbers in the last two games without Wall are the only evidence anybody needs to see that he has improved.

State of the Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal’s scoring should help the Wizards position themselves near the top of the East by the end of the season.

The Wizards have been one of the most consistent teams at both ends of the floor this season. They rank 10th in Offensive Rating (106.2) and 11th in Defensive Rating (104.1).

But head coach Scott Brooks could use more consistently. On offense, the Wizards rank 23rd in assist percentage and 21st in rebound percentage. Washington also has to play better against teams with a losing record.

However, there is plenty to like about this team. After ranking 23rd in Net Rating (-3.4) and 19th in Offensive Rating last season, the Wizards’ bench ranks 11th overall and fifth in the East in Net Rating (0.3) and eighth overall and fourth in the East in Offensive Rating (104.7).

Kelly Oubre Jr., Ian Mahinmi, Mike Scott, Tim Frazier and Tomáš Satoranský have all played well. If Otto Porter Jr. can be more consistent at the offensive end, Washington could be one of the best teams in the league.

The Wizards entered Friday with a 14-11 record, good for the sixth-best record in the East. With Wall expected back soon, Washington should be able to go on a run. Going forward, the Wizards will need Bradley Beal to continue being an effective playmaker and create effective offense.

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