Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal Is Showing Leadership This Summer

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal has shown maturity and growth off the court this summer

For the first four years of his career, Bradley Beal has shown that once he’s fully healthy and focused, he can be one of the best young players in the NBA.

Beal displays a cool, reserved demeanor that never gets too high or too low during the games in the regular season.

However, his Bruce Banner-like regular season persona gives way to the Incredible Hulk alter ego during the playoffs.

With fierce intensity to complement his confident, picture perfect stroke on his jumper, it was easy to forget that he was only 20 and 21-years-old during those two impressive playoff showings.

Beal struggled to stay healthy this past season and missed 25 games, essentially pushing the Washington Wizards outside looking into the playoffs.

It was no secret that the Wizards franchise always intended to throw max contract money at Beal once his rookie deal was up, but second thoughts had begun to creep into fans’ heads.

Statements such as “I would let him walk for nothing before giving him max money” or “he is Eric Gordon 2.0″ – a once promising shooting guard with a similar injury history and questions – became common when discussing Beal and his new contract.

Ultimately, the Wizards did re-sign Beal to a new, huge five-year contract in the neighborhood of $128 million.

Although Beal’s new contract makes him the highest paid player on the team, it is widely recognized that All-Star point guard John Wall is still considered the best player on the Washington Wizards.

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To a lot of basketball followers around the NBA, Beal is a relatively unknown “star” player that they only vaguely heard of because of the Wizards’ playoff runs.

Beal himself has already recognized this and addressed it during an interview in Las Vegas while watching the Washington Wizards Summer League team.

When asked about the dynamics of “whose team is it,” Beal answered with a couple of attention grabbing quotes:

“It’s everybody’s team. I don’t really think about it. It’s John and it’s my team’ and We (himself and Wall) are the leaders of the team. It’s not about money. That doesn’t matter.”

Beal also mentioned how he is now embracing being seen as one of the cornerstones of the franchise.

This is a welcomed statement considering the state of the Wizards when Beal was drafted. The Wizards were among the worst teams in the league and had some of the biggest knuckleheads in the NBA in Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee.

Showing Growth

While Beal is looking forward to showing his maturity and growth on the court, he has already taken a few strides to show his maturity off the court.

In the four years he’s played with the Wizards, Beal has rarely said anything controversial.

That all changed last week after Beal weighed in on a topic that’s much more important than professional basketball.

Beal spoke on the current strife and tension that is happening in this country regarding the cases of two black males being senselessly killed by police and the horrifying case of five police officers being gunned down in Dallas.

Beal caught some heat from a few fans for speaking out, but he wrote a follow up post on Instagram explaining his position.

He then made an appearance on ESPN to explain further by what he meant by the post and his call to action.

The likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul have all begun to open up about the issues – including an appearance during the ESPYS – and Beal wants his voice to be heard too.

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Athletes of this current generation have shown support in a few cases such as these subtly, using t-shirts and gestures rather than speaking on such a hot button topic.

Not only is Beal expressing his opinion as a pro athlete with influence, but he’s actually speaking about it.

The interview showed Beal being passionate about making a change and coming together in this troubling time in the country.

This is all positive news that you want one of the stars of your franchise to do.

Realizing that he has a special platform to speak out on social injustices shows that Beal is starting, at the young age of 23, to find his own voice which the Washington Wizards will benefit from in the future.

Still has work to do

While Beal’s tenure as the Wizards’ new $100 million man has gotten off to a good start off the court, he still has to prove himself on the court.

Last summer, we saw a few encouraging clips of Beal’s workout plan with super trainer Drew Hanlen and how he was practicing creating his own shot off the dribble.

Beal started last season looking like he was going to push to have his best season as a pro, but eventually was hobbled by a few past injuries and the Washington Wizards stalled out by finishing right at .500.

This summer, Beal has been mainly quiet, making one of his only appearances to support the team in Vegas.

Hanlen hinted that they are working more with exercises this summer that aim at keeping Beal healthy and on the court throughout the season.

Unlike the previous few seasons, the Washington Wizards are now flying under the radar in the NBA but have a starting five of Wall, Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. That’s a quality lineup that can and should contend for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Many believe the whole key to Washington eventually being that dangerous team depends on if Beal can have a career year, creating the “House of Guards” next to Wall again.

Next: 10 Reasons To Be Optimistic In Wizardsland

Judging by Beal’s excellent summer so far, the Washington Wizards look to be in good shape and return to the playoffs next season.