Resume: 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 33.4 minutes, 43% FG, 41% 3PT (9th in league), 78% FT … Team Record in Games Played: 37-26 (9-10 without) … Playoffs: 23.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 41.8 minutes, 41% FG, 37% 3PT, 83% FT, 6-4 record
Placing Bradley Beal this high in the Top 50 NBA Players Countdown involves taking a leap of faith on two different subjects:
First, that he’ll actually manage to make it through a regular season unscathed. He’s going into year four and he’s already missed 54 games in his NBA career. Somebody needs to go into the game options menu and turn the “Injuries” off. Let’s just get this dude healthy for 82 games to start.
Second, I have to assume that the way he played in the postseason is a greater indicator of Beal’s future than how he played during the 2014-15 regular season. Beal’s regular season saw a dip in the box score and in terms of overall effectiveness. Surely some of this had to do with nagging injuries, but it’s still troublesome that a third year guy who is younger than I am wasn’t quite as good in the regular season, whether it be because of injuries or because of a general lack of improvement in his game.
What makes me feel a little bit better about (well actually, a whole lot better) about Beal’s future outlook is how good he was in the Playoffs. He was better than fellow young shooting guards Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler, and he even kept the Wizards afloat while John Wall was sidelined with an injured left hand. For a month, Beal was not just the player we always hoped he’d become … he was better than that.
Granted, it’s not like Beal turned into an MVP candidate overnight, and ranking him so highly on the countdown this year is definitely putting a lot of faith in the idea that what Beal looked like in late April and May wasn’t an aberration. If it was a sign of things to come, it means we have to re-calibrate the Wizards ceiling. Beal was assertive with the ball in his hands; he attacked more than we were accustomed to seeing and he ran the Wizards offense exceptionally well considering we didn’t really have any reason to believe at that time that he could. Coming into the league Beal projected as a lights out shooter from the outside. There was nothing too promising about his about to create for himself or anybody else off the dribble. This is just found money for the Wizards.
Beal shoots a ton of contested mid-range jumpers, and like I mentioned in Andrew Wiggins‘ write-up two days ago, that’s a big reason why he’s shooting in the low forties from the field instead of in the high forties. In a vacuum, Beal has one of the prettiest jump shots in the league, and if he ever turns a portion of those contested jumpers into uncontested looks, possibly from downtown, his shooting percentage will jump. The low percentage definitely has more to do with the shot selection than the jump shot itself.
The Beal/Wall partnership is nearly perfect in theory, but it hasn’t been as successful as it probably should’ve been, and most of that falls on Beal. He just hasn’t been on the floor enough or consistent enough for it to reach it’s full potential. It just seems like a matter of time though until the House of Guards makes a Splash Brothers level leap. That has more to do with Beal than Wall, though.
Wall has solidified himself as one of the five or six best point guards in the league, and that’s saying a lot considering it’s the deepest position in the league right now. We can probably call Beal one of the five or six best shooting guards in the league, but more of that has to do with what it seems like he can do than what he’s done. Maybe the 2015-16 season is when he gets it done.