Washington Wizards 2015-2016 Player Previews: Gary Neal


Washington Wizards, 2015-2016 Player Previews

Gary Neal, 2014-15 regular season stats: 10.1 PPG, 1.9 APG, .31 3P%, .37 FG%, .87 FT%, 22.1 minutes, 54 games

73: That’s the closest Bradley Beal has come to playing a full 82-game season. Here’s another number for you…64: That’s the average number of games Beal has played during his first three years in the NBA. One last number to throw out there…3: That’s the number of lower leg stress injuries Beal has had since entering the NBA.

If you watched the Washington Wizards often enough since Bradley Beal has entered the NBA, you know that they look one way with him on the floor (normal?) versus a whole other way when he’s not on the floor (square peg into a round hole comes to mind).

The Wizards can say that their shooting guards and small forwards are interchangeable, but that just isn’t the case.  Maybe they can run the same sets, plays, etc…but the lack of quickness, ball-handling, and shooting when Bradley Beal is off the floor is a problem for this offense.

Enter Gary Neal.

Don’t hit back or refresh on the browser; this isn’t the Bradley Beal player preview. This is the Gary Neal preview and those numbers signify his importance to the franchise in the 2015-2016 NBA season.

Excuse me; you’re going to argue that Gary Neal, a player coming off a season where he shot 37.4% from the field and 30.5% from the 3-point line is going to make a difference? Should I even bother reading the rest or go buy milk, bread and a generator for Hurricane Joaquin. 

Stick with me!

Gary Neal isn’t a savior or a cure-all if Bradley Beal misses time this season or when he’s resting on the bench but he’s an interesting addition to this roster and adds an element that has been missing.

Let’s start with the good. Here’s the list of current Washington Wizards who have scored 24 points in an NBA Finals game: GARY NEAL

Gary Neal is a career 38.1% 3-point shooter, a career 85% free throw shooter, has three years playing under Coach Gregg Popovich, has some experience playing the point guard position in spot duty, and evidenced by the highlight package above, he doesn’t shy away from big moments.

Now the bad. What has happened to him since he left San Antonio? More specifically, what explains the inconsistencies?

Let’s start in the 2013-2014 season with his stint in Milwaukee. Gary Neal shot 38% from the field and 36% from the 3-point line in 30 games played for the Bucks.

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30 games played into a newly signed two-year contract with Milwaukee, Gary Neal was traded to Charlotte where he turned his season around, shooting 43.8% from the field and 40.6% from the 3-point line for the Bobcats in 22 games, including one start.

Fast forward to 2014-2015, you would assume that Neal would build off the momentum from his strong end of season performance with Charlotte.

Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way and after 43 games.

Neal ended up with these numbers: 35.9% shooting from the field and 29.3% shooting from three.

Gary Neal was moved for the second time in two years as he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In limited opportunities with Minnesota (11 games), Gary rebounded to shoot 42.9% from the field and 35.5% from the 3-point line for the Timberwolves.

What can we expect in Washington?

Well based on his two year sample since he’s left San Antonio, there’s just no telling what to expect. If you’re looking at it from a glass half full perspective, the hope should be that familiarity with Don Newman, who spent two years with Neal in San Antonio, playing with a premier pass passing point guard who excels in creating 3-point opportunities and open looks for teammates, and playing close to his hometown of Baltimore brings out San Antonio Neal.

If you’re looking at it from a glass half empty perspective, the Washington Wizards signed a 30-year-old journeyman who is on his third team in three years and is coming off a bad season.

Then you factor in competition among a deep set of wings including a rejuvenated Martell Webster, who has experience backing up the shooting guard, and wonder if Gary Neal will even have the first opportunity to back up Bradley Beal.

The fit is potentially there.

The Washington Wizards need shooting, an additional ball handler, and scoring punch off the bench. Gary Neal seems to understand that and the impact that John Wall can have on his shooting percentage when he said: “I think if you have the ability to shoot the ball, your shooting percentage is kind of dictated by your shot selection and your shot quality…And I think playing with a guy like John, he is a point guard that has the ability and talent to get in the lane and draw defenses but he also has the mindset to want to get you an open shot.”

With the emphasis on shooting, pace, and spacing as training camp has opened, the opportunity is there for the Gary Neal we saw with the Spurs to re-emerge, but as-is the case with most incoming free agents, we’ll have to wait and see.

Next: Porter Could Emulate Ariza In Washington

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