Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal hasn’t dealt with many shooting slumps this season, but has hit one against the Atlanta Hawks.
Last year when Bradley Beal missed open shots, he would trot up the court with a defeated look on his face. The next time he got a clean look from the perimeter, Beal either hesitantly attempted the shot or passed on it.
But elite shooters do one thing on open shots: take them with confidence.
Even if a player’s shot isn’t falling for any particular reason, passing up on wide open looks usually doesn’t end well. To an even greater degree, it hurts the player’s and the team’s confidence.
Coming out of the University of Florida, Beal became known for having one of the purest looking jumpers. His confidence, though, was fragile and it affected his performance.
This season, Beal has learned how to cope with slumps, recognizing that they’re temporary.
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Instead of passing up on open shots and disrupting the Washington Wizards‘ offense, Beal has become more aggressive, often driving to the basket instead of settling for shots from the perimeter.
Beal attempted a career-high 4.4 free throws per game this season, which is a sign of his newfound ability to create for himself and accept contact when getting to the paint.
Becoming a more versatile scorer has allowed Beal to break out of shooting slumps quicker than normal since he’s not completely dependent on 3-point shooting.
This season, Beal shot a career-high 48 percent from the field while putting up over 23 points per game, so the scoring slumps were almost nonexistent.
But in the first two games against the Atlanta Hawks, Beal has struggled to find his shot. He’s averaging close to 27 points in the series, but he’s done so inefficiently, taking 24 shots per game. Beal’s only made 6 of his 21 threes versus Atlanta, too.
Washington’s role players have stepped up in certain moments, but for the Wizards to make a strong push, Beal will need to play at an All-Star level.
“I feel like my flow is good, but my shot sucks,” said Beal following the Wizards’ Game-2 win on Wednesday. “I’ve got to put the two together. I’m getting open looks, I’m getting open; my teammates are doing a tremendous job with setting me up and creating opportunities for me, but I have to knock them down. I’m happy with the looks I’m getting, so it’s just a matter of getting in the gym, staying confident, and just continuing to shoot.”
Continuing to shoot, as Beal mentioned, is imperative when hitting a slump.
It takes some ignorance to break out of a slump and Beal has developed that irrational, but necessarily confidence in himself. For the betterment of the team, he’s realized that he’s often the best shooter on the court.
“I feel good,” said Beal when asked about his thoughts before Game-3. “The thing about the playoffs is, you get a chance to rest [and] get your body together. But I feel good.”
Washington will have an opportunity to gain an insurmountable 3-0 series lead on Saturday in Atlanta. Thus far, they’ve been able to get away with winning games without efficient shooting from Beal. At some point, though, he needs to find his rhythm. This weekend would be a solid time to do so.