Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal wants his jersey in the rafters. Will it get there?

Bradley Beal wants to end his career a Washington Wizards legend and eventually get his jersey retired. How does he stack up against the other guys in the rafters?

Five players have their jerseys hanging in Capital One Arena.  Bradley Beal wants to make sure that his Washington Wizards career makes his jersey the sixth.

In a recent interview with Marc Spears of The Undefeated, Bradley Beal put to rest the never-ending trade rumors that seem to swirl around him and the Wizards like a cloud of locust. Not only did Beal say he wants to spend the rest of his career with the Wizards, but he took it further and alluded to the type of career he wants to have and the type of legacy he wants to leave behind.

Beal wants to be remembered as one of the best Wizards to ever do it.

Wanting to have my jersey retired in Washington one day played a factor in me re-signing. Every night we walk into that arena, there’s five names up there. Those are some of the five greatest to ever touch a basketball. To be on pace to breaking the records that I am now and to be here for eight years already, that’s special. And coming into the prime of my career, you don’t know how much longer you have.

For me, I look at Kobe, I look at D-Wade [Dwyane Wade], I look at Dirk [Nowitzki], U.D. [Udonis Haslem], how they can stay in one situation for a long time.

Currently, the franchise has only retired five numbers…

Could 3 be the next numeral to join them in the rafters? Maybe. Beal mentions Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, and Udonis Haslem as guys that inspired him to take this type of route. Each of those guys spent at least 15 years with the teams that drafted them. Nearing the end of his eighth season, Beal still has a ways to go to match their tenure, but he’s built quite the case for himself already. Especially when compared to the other retired jerseys.

In 18 games, Beal will have eight seasons under his belt, all with the Wizards. That’s more than Monroe spent with the franchise, and by the end of next season, Beal will have put in as many years on the court as Hayes, Johnson, and Chenier did.

But just being around for a long time isn’t enough to warrant your jersey’s ascension to the roof. You have to make your mark. So far, Beal’s certainly made his mark, especially in the franchise record books.

Please just read the stats

Thanks to some absurd stat lines this season, Beal is quickly rising up the franchise’s all-time lists.

Per Basketball-Reference, Beal is second all-time in scoring, trailing only Unseld. Despite not coming into the NBA as a playmaker, he’s now sixth in assists. And although he’s known for his offense, he’s seventh in steals and could be as high as fifth by season’s end. He’s only 14 swipes behind the currently fifth-placed Gilbert Arenas. And Beal’s been leading the franchise in career three-pointers for awhile now. Every additional make just puts him further in front.

Aside from the career marks, he owns the longest streak of games with 25+ points in franchise history, a mark he just set, with 21 consecutive such performances. He’s first all-time in career made three-pointers, and also has two seasons with more made three-pointers than anyone else in franchise history.

Related Story: Beal's top 5 games from record-setting scoring streak

And he’s only going to add to that. At his current pace, Beal will finish the season with 2,295 the most he’s ever scored in a single season. Only Walt Bellamy (61-62)  and Gilbert Arenas (05-06) put up more in one season. But Beal’s current per game scoring average of  30.6 dwarfs both of their averages. They just played more games.

Monroe and Hayes are the only two guys with retired jerseys to average more points per game in their time with the franchise than Beal currently does. However, considering the bucket-getter Beal has become, it won’t be long before he passes Hayes’s 21.3 point average, and then Monroe’s 23.7. Near the end of his eighth season, Beal’s career ppg average with the Wizards is up to 21.0.

Of course,  Beal, as a guard, doesn’t have the double-digit rebounding averages that Hayes, Johnson, and Unseld boasted, but Beal can claim the only 25-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist season in franchise history.

His numbers are convincing, but there’s more to it than just box scores.

Winning matters…right?

Statistically, Beal stacks up with the rest of the guys, if not surpasses them, individually.

But Beal’s stats haven’t turned into the accolades that the guys he’s chasing enjoyed. Beal’s two All-Star appearances are tied with Monroe for the least among the group. Chenier is the only guy besides Beal who hasn’t received All-NBA honors of some sort. To be fair though, that could change in a few weeks. And while Beal was named to the All-Rookie team in 2013, Monroe won Rookie of the Year. So did Unseld, who was also named MVP that season, joining only Wilt Chamberlain on the list of players to win ROY and MVP at the same time.

And the stats certainly haven’t turned into the same amount of wins as they did for the other guys.

Although the Wizards had a good run of competitive playoff appearances in the 2010s, they’ve never gotten past the second round in the Wall/Beal era. Every guy with their jersey hanging in Capital One Arena made at least one NBA Finals appearance and most made two. Unseld, Chenier, and Hayes all got rings in 1978. Now that’s a legacy.

The most wins the Wizards have ever gotten during the Wall/Beal era has been 49. Each player with their jersey in the rafters was on at least two 50+ win teams. Unseld, Chenier, and Hayes were all on the 60-win team in 1975.

So while Beal’s stats might be in the same conversation as these guys, his winning percentage isn’t quite there yet.

Rafters or nah?

Could Beal’s be the next jersey hanging in Capital One Arena? Sure. Especially if he sticks it out for the rest of his career, there’s no doubt Beal will retire a Wizards legend, if he isn’t already. On the court, Beal is among the best doing it right now. Off the court, he’s equally impressive and took home the 2019 NBA Community Assist Award.

But to really cement himself as one of the best in franchise history, one that deserves to be forever immortalized and never replicated, Beal will need to add some W’s to his resume. And maybe an Eastern Conference title or two.

Next: Bradley Beal puts trade rumors to rest

With John Wall coming back next season, there’s certainly hope that the Wizards can bounce back to their competitive selves. When each player has graced the floor for at least 50 games in a season, the Wizards have never missed the playoffs.

But whatever version of Wall returns will be different than the one we’re used to. For what it’s worth, this is now a different Bradley Beal, too. And he’s well on his way to hanging in the rafters. I, for one, can’t wait to watch how he continues to cement his legacy.

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