We are now officially past the halfway point in the NBA season. We’re closer to the playoffs than we are to opening night tip-off. So all the early season rust is officially off. We’re past the point of working out the kinks. The Washington Wizards are still disappointing, but not Bradley Beal. Bradley Beal is an all-star.
Bradley Beal Deserves All-Star Recognition
You can blame the Wizards’ losing on injuries, or on poor roster construction. You can even blame it on questionable coaching at times from Scott Brooks. But you cannot blame this on Beal. If anything, this team is losing in spite of the 25-year old shooting guards’ herculean season.
No Wall, No Problem
For the litany of injuries Washington has had to deal with this season, none is worse than John Wall’s season-ending heel injury. But even though the injury seems like a season-ender for the Wizards, Beal is determined to prove any doubters wrong.
Besides, Beal has some experience carrying the load without Wall. Last season, Wall missed a total of 41, including a 25-game stretch from January through the end of March. Many thought that would doom Washington. But with all eyes on Beal, D.C’s shooting guard stepped up. In games without Wall last year, Beal averaged 22 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.1 assist, 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks on 44.5-33-79.2 shooting. Beal’s efforts were just enough to keep Washington afloat, and they ultimately squeaked into the playoffs.
This time, Beal isn’t just doing well without Wall. He’s doing it all. This season, Beal is on pace to post career-highs in:
- Field goal attempts,
- Field goal makes,
- 2-point attempts,
- 2-point makes,
- 3-point attempts,
- Free throw attempts,
- Free throw makes,
- Offensive rebounds,
- Defensive rebounds,
- Usage rate
Additionally, his efg% and PER are both currently higher this year than they were during his entire 2017-18 all-star season.
Even though he’s the primary scoring option on a depleted D.C. squad, Beal has excelled with increased attention and pressure. He’s actually gotten better in Wall’s absence. Before Wall began his extended stay on the sideline, Beal was averaging “just” 23/4.8/4.7 on 47-33-79 shooting with a Game Score of 16.68. In the 10 games since Wall’s season ended, he’s put up 30.2/5.8/6.2/2.4 on 46-40-84 shooting with a Game Score of 21.62.
Where’s The Love?
Beal is balling, there’s no doubt. But fans may not be taking notice. After the first round of All-Star voting, Beal ranked 9th among Eastern Conference guards.
— 2019 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) January 3, 2019
The second and third rounds of voting didn’t help him too much, either. He actually dropped one spot among the East’s guards. 10th.
— 2019 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) January 10, 2019
Expecting Beal to get the most votes in a conference that includes backcourt stars like Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry, and the Dwyane Wade goodbye tour may be asking a bit much. But seeing Zach LaVine, Jeremy Lin and Goran Dragic above Beal just seems wrong.
Keeping Good Company
Aside from putting up career highs, Beal’s stats put him amongst some elite company. If you’re measuring workload purely by minutes played, only James Harden is playing more mpg than Beal (plus, he’s setting fire to the entire NBA). Beal’s ESPN Rating (a catch-all player rating) is second to only one Eastern Conference guard (Irving) and one other shooting guard (Harden).
Beal just passed Michael Jordan for most 40-point games in a Wizards uniform. He’s the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to go for 40/10/10 in his first two triple-doubles. He’s only the 8th player EVER to record multiple 40-point triple doubles in a season. And Beal’s the first since Oscar Robertson to have multiple 40/10/15 games in a single season.
After the Wizards’ thrilling win in London over the New York Knicks, Beal ranks 1st in points, 2nd in assists, 3rd in rebounds, and 3rd in steals among Eastern conference shooting guards. Expand that out to include the entire NBA and he ranks 2nd, 5th, 5th, and 6th among all shooting guards. Whether you look simply within the Eastern conference or across the entire league, Beal is among the best.
And more than deserving of a second consecutive all-star selection.
Will it Be Enough?
What’s less clear is whether Beal’s improved play will help or hurt his chances of staying in D.C. He’s a young, coveted piece amidst an organization with real salary issues. Washington could surely get a lot back for Beal on the trade market (hello, Los Angeles Lakers). But it would be heartbreaking for Washington to lose such a promising and talented (and affordable) 25-year old all-star.
Is Beal’s play only opening an additional can of worms for Washington? Last season, Beal kept Washington in the playoff hunt largely by himself. Washington went 19-22 without Wall that year. In a smaller sample size, Washington has gone 8-5 in the 13 games Wall has missed. Over the last two seasons, Washington is a combined 62-65 (0.488). In games with Wall: 25-38 (0.400). In games without Wall: 27-27 (0.500). Maybe Washington is better without their supermax point guard…even if their shooting guard doesn’t agree.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 18, 2019
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