Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal’s best season earns him his best Sports Illustrated ranking

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

One is better than none, right? The Washington Wizards finally got some representation on the Sports Illustrated Top 100 list with Bradley Beal coming in at 22.

On Monday of this week, Sports Illustrated released the first installment of their Top 100 NBA players of 2020 list, featuring every baller ranked 100-51. No Washington Wizards. The next day they dropped 50-31. Still no Washington Wizards. Yikes.

Finally, with the release of the players ranked 30-11, Sports Illustrated finally revealed Bradley Beal as the NBA’s 22nd best player heading into the 2020 season.

This is the highest that Beal has ever been placed in Sports Illustrated’s annual rankings, which they’ve now done for seven straight years. Beal has been on all but one of those lists (he was left off of the first one they did back in 2015) and has seen his ranking improve each and every season.

2014: Not Ranked

2015: 76th

2016: 62nd

2017: 58th

2018: 32nd

2019: 27th

2020: 22nd

Beal’s rise makes sense. He should be getting ranked higher because he’s been getting demonstrably better with more NBA seasons under his belt.

Beal has consistently expanded his game each and every season he’s been with the Washington Wizards. His offensive arsenal has created a scoring threat that is far more dangerous and exciting than the shooter that came of out Florida in the 2012 draft. Now, Beal slashes to the hoop—with or without the ball—and finishes at the rim with brilliant creativity. In fact, Beal scored more points in the interior last season than he has in any other season of his career. Per Basketball-Reference, Beal shot nearly 100 more attempts at the rim last season than he did during the 2016-17 season. That year, Beal finished with 369 field goal attempts at the rim, his previous career-high. Last season, he had 452.

It was also Beal’s best dunking season. Not a high flyer by any means, Beal went into last season without ever slamming down more than 50 dunks in a season. Last season, he soared for 61.

Beal’s playmaking ability has also improved, mostly thanks to Wall’s absence. Beal has recorded new career-highs for assists per game in each of his last three seasons. Last season, his 5.5 assists helped him become the first player in Washington Wizards franchise history to average 25 points, five assists, and five rebounds for an entire season.

Next. 4 Washington Wizards that could be on SI's Top 100 list next year. dark

With Wall expected to miss more time this season, Beal will undoubtedly have ample opportunities to grow his game even further. Although now, he’s no longer flying under the radar. Bradley Beal has arrived, and defenses are watching.