“Over before it started.” With the latest setback to superstar guard John Wall, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some Washington Wizards fans uttered those words. Right when the team was beginning to gel and push for a potential NBA Finals berth, they got struck down, once again, with injury.
It’s awful timing because Wall was playing his best ball of the season and is an indispensable member of the squad. With five fractures in his left wrist, his season might be done.
That’s it…Washington’s fate is sealed. Unless, of course, Bradley Beal takes the reigns and goes insane. Without Wall, it’s an uphill battle, since he creates the majority of the offense for both Beal and the Wiz. However, Beal is just scratching the surface as an all-around threat in the league.
Some are disappointed with him because, by now, they thought he’d already be the second coming of Ray Allen. But if you look at Beal and Allen’s “junior” years in NBA, he isn’t too far off.
BEAL (YEAR 3): 15.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 43% FG, 41% 3FG
While he isn’t quite the scorer Allen was from the field, Beal has improved his shot selection, playmaking and defense. The rest of the way, Washington will count on him to lead, play some point, and initiate the attack with an aggressive spirit and edge. Because, with Wall out, Paul Pierce’s responsibility changes from “heat-check, clutch finisher” to “less efficient scorer,”Marcin Gortat goes from “P&R finisher” to “scrappy post threat” and Otto Porter won’t have as many open looks from long range.
So the onus is on Beal to do his best Dwyane Wade-impression for the Wiz to advance. Beal leads the team in scoring this postseason, averaging 21.8 ppg. His new starting backcourt mate, Ramon Sessions, is more impatient and unreliable while running the offense, which means Beal is gonna see a lot of time initiating sets and getting guys in the right place. He HAS to shore up shooting deficiencies out of the P&R (shooting just 33% on pull-ups), however, for it to work.
Can Beal get it done? Well, we firmly believe the 21-year old can significantly up the ante. He has A TON of talent, though majority of it is untapped and slightly misguided. Instead of settling for mid-long range looks with Wall gone, Beal needs to focus on attacking the rim and getting sent to the line, where he shoots almost 80%.
It’s time for him to raise his game to a new height. Looking back, the 2015 postseason could be the precursor to “All-Star” or “Superstar” Bradley Beal. If he helps lead the Wiz to an upset over ATL, his confidence will go through the roof.
And for a natural-born shooter, that’s all he needs.