With the injury of John Wall for the season, one low-key storyline that hasn’t been discussed much in the national media is the emergence of Bradley Beal.
Beal has shown flashes of becoming a deadly primary scorer, but with one of the most popular superstars in the NBA sharing the backcourt with him his whole career these glimpses have remained flashes.
Consistent improvement has been shown over his career, and this cumulated in his first All-Star game last season at just 24 years old.
Now 25, as a shooting guard he is entering the age where maximum potential is expected. The progression continued early on in the season despite this going under the radar because of the Wizards’ struggles.
Then it was announced that John Wall would miss the remainder of the season. An unfortunate blow for Washington, but this also opened the door up for Beal to have an unquestioned extended period of time to prove his worth as the number 3 pick back in the 2012 draft.
He has exceeded expectations.
Since 2019 started, Beal has put up 31/7/5 averages on very efficient shooting. This includes a 43 point triple-double a few nights ago against the best team in the NBA currently. The Wizards are also 5-4 since Wall exited the season, not setting the league on fire by any means but just watching this team the chemistry is there.
The pieces are set to where Beal has plenty of room to perform the art of offensive execution, and the Ray Allen comparisons that have been afloat for a long time now are starting to show their true colors.
If one compares Beal’s 2019 stats so far to Allen’s 2000-2001 season when he was 25 years old (the same age as Beal now) the similarities are eerie.
Both are shooting at the same exact efficiency (48% FG, 43% 3 Point) and if we take Beal’s whole season into account, are averaging the exact same amount of assists per game.
The circumstances when comparing now to the beginning of the millennium are vastly different to be fair. The Milwaukee Bucks averaged 100 PPG in 2000-2001 which was 2nd highest in the NBA. That would be dead last right now. If you need any example of just how much the league has changed since 2000 this is it.
That Bucks team was also much further ahead of where the Wizards stand currently. They were a game away from meeting the LA Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals. Allen had Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell to help out and the chemistry was top notch. The circumstances with Beal are much less ideal.
But I would argue right now Beal is even more impressive at the same age, and if he continues his 2019 level of production the rest of the season there is a very serious argument for him to be a top 10 overall player. Right now (updated as of January 14) I have him 13th overall. No player in the entire league has made a name for himself more than Beal so far in 2019, and almost nobody is talking about it.
A superstar is blooming before our eyes and by springtime, Mr. Beal could be a true American Beauty.