Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was always known for his silky smooth jump shot, but now he’s become a complete offensive player.
Bradley Beal has been known primarily for his jump shot, going all the way back to his high school career. The release and lift on his jumper are texbook and picture perfect.
The problem was, he was relying on it too much in his previous years with the Washington Wizards.
Beal, compared to other All-Star caliber two guards around the league, wasn’t driving to the hole or displaying his sneaky athleticism as much as he should have.
While playing in former coach Randy Wittman’s offense, Beal was mainly getting the ball off handoffs and shooting long twos.
Along with his history of getting hurt, the knock on Beal was his inability to draw contact inside – an aspect of the game that most successful guards have in their arsenal nowadays.
Now that the Washington Wizards are one of the best teams in the NBA – they’ve moved up to third in the Eastern Conference – it’s no coincidence that Beal has elevated his game under new coach Scott Brooks.
Before Thursday’s telecast against the Los Angeles Lakers, CSN’s Chris Miller tweeted out about how Beal is now rated fifth among all guards in the NBA with 21 (and counting) dunks:
During the summer, Beal openly talked about his desire to expand his game. Getting to the rim was high up on his list. Playmaking and keeping his dribble alive was also something he wanted to add.
This season, Beal has finally been healthy and he’s adding elements to his game that make him almost unguardable alongside John Wall. They’ve put pressure on defenses by being able to get inside and out.
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Along with the aggressive drives to the hole and his thunderous transition dunks, Beal is also becoming a better passer in the half court offensive sets.
Beal now routinely works the two-man pick and roll game with Marcin Gortat, which makes the defense switch, allowing Beal to use his quickness to get to the basket.
When defenses hedge the screen, Beal usually has a wide open jump shot – or his calling card.
Brooks has obviously watched tape of the Washington Wizards’ previous years and has reprogrammed some of the bad habits that the players have gotten.
Wall is having his best year in the NBA and should finally make one of the All-NBA teams.
Otto Porter is another player having a career year by becoming one of the NBA’s deadliest 3-point shooters. Markieff Morris and Gortat have been on a roll, with both players putting up career numbers over the past few months.
But after signing the biggest contract in Washington Wizards history, Beal was the player that certainly needed to step up this season.
While he still has a few more kinks he needs to work on – he often gets careless with the ball and has bad turnovers, and he could rebound a little more for a guard his size – Beal is now back in the conversation as one of the best two guards in the league.
He’s also improved as a leader in the Wizards’ locker room, sparking an enthusiasm that the team has lacked. It was Beal’s idea to wear all black to the Verizon Center when the Washington Wizards faced their new rivals, the Boston Celtics.
For the first time in his career, Beal has played at an All-Star level for a substantial period of time. And given his trajectory as a player, he’s only going to keep improving.