Should the Washington Wizards give Bradley Beal a break?

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Is it time for the Washington Wizards to give Bradley Beal a break?

Including the playoffs, Bradley Beal has played in 213 consecutive NBA games. The last time the Washington Wizards took the court without their all-star shooting guard was on April 12, 2017.

The man once considered injury prone has certainly shed that label, but his iron man status is in jeopardy. After leaving the game early in Washington’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, Beal is listed as questionable for the team’s showdown with the New York Knicks.

Beal is just the latest Wizard with something nagging. Nearly the entire Wizards roster has been injured or suspended during the month of December. It’s meant a lot of new faces, such as Anžejs Pasečņiks, Gary Payton II, and Johnathan Williams, and a lot of work for Beal. Maybe it’s time for a break. As load management dominates NBA debates this season, the Wizards might want to consider it for Beal.

Beal’s been the catalyst for this offense all season, but with Davis Bertans, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, Moritz Wagner, he’s basically become the entire offense. Lately, he’s struggled to shoulder to load.

As the obvious, and sometimes only, offensive threat on the floor, teams have started blitzing Beal and doubling him as soon as he crosses half court. As a result, his turnover numbers have jumped slightly (up 3.5 per game in the month of December) and his assist numbers have taken a hit, too (down to 6.1 in the month of December).

The injury and assist numbers could be due to all the new faces in Washington. A less familiar offense is one that will likely run less smoothly, so more turnovers and fewer assets can be expected. But Beal’s shooting numbers are also hurting as the spotlight stays on him.

For the season, Beal is shooting his lowest percentage from the field since the 2014-15 season, just 43.6 percent. His current three-point percentage for the season, 31.7 percent, is the lowest of his career.

In December, his numbers are even worse, though. Through 13 games this month, Beal is shooting 38.5 percent from the field 24.5 percent from behind the arc. In his last five games, Beal has made just eight of his last 45 three-point attempts.

To balance out the shooting struggles, Beal is driving hard to the basket and scoring a lot of his points at the free-throw line. After doing it four times through the first 17 games of the season, Beal has attempted ten or more free throws in six of the thirteen December games.

Next. Should Bradley Beal and the Wizards consider load management?. dark

Free throw attempts can lead to easy points, but they also come with a price, and with so many Wizards already beaten up, they cannot afford to lose Beal for an extended period of time. So for the sake of the season, the Wizards might be better suited letting Beal take a breather with the rest of the injured starters.

Last season, Beal led the NBA in minutes played and started all 82 games for the second consecutive year. This season he’s ranked third in minutes per game. All season, the Wizards have shown a commitment to the long term over the short term. Resting a tired Beal for a throwaway game vs the Knicks would just be further proof of the franchise’s new, big-picture mindset.