Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal finally gets his respect, named 2021 All-Star starter

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s about time Bradley Beal gets the recognition he deserves. The Washington Wizards are going to the All-Star Game once again.

Over the past two and a half seasons, no name has been more synonymous with “snub” than Bradley Beal. Whether we’re talking All-Star voting or All-NBA selections, nobody has been recently slighted more than Beal and the Washington Wizards. That is finally changing.

Thursday night, the NBA announced the final results of the fan vote, player vote, and media vote, all three of which decided the starters for the 2021 All-Star Game. The leading vote-getter amongst Eastern Conference guards: Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards. Beal swept all three voting categories for Eastern Conference guards, finishing first amongst fans, media, and players.

For the first time in his career, Bradley Beal will be an All-Star starter. This is Beal’s third trip to the All-Star Game, and the first time a Wizard will be in the starting lineup since John Wall was an All-Star starter in 2015.

No snub this year. Bradley Beal is finally an All-Star starter.

The recognition is no-doubt deserved. Beal leads the NBA in scoring, averaging 32.8 points while shooting  47.3 percent from the floor through the Wizards’ first 26 games. He’s also grabbing 5.2 rebounds and dishing out 4.7 assists per game. Two seasons removed from being the franchise’s first 25-5-5 player, Beal is on his way to a 30-5-5 season. That’s All-Star status. No doubt.

But the voting results are a bit surprising. Especially when you consider that Beal didn’t even make the All-Star team last season. When starters were announced in 2020, Beal wasn’t one of them despite finishing second in the player vote amongst Eastern Conference guards. He was ninth and fifth in the fan and media votes, respectively. To make matters worse, Beal wasn’t named a reserve by the coaches even though they all sent double and triple teams at Beal during the regular season.

Beal was averaging 28.7 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.5 rebounds when he was officially snubbed from the 2020 All-Star Game. Since then, he’s been unstoppable. After the snub, Beal finished the 2019-20 season averaging 34.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists during his final 18 games. And he hasn’t let up at all this season.

So what’s the difference? Why a starter now and not even on the team last season? Are the Wizards winning more? Not exactly. The Wizards were 15-31 (0.326) last season when Beal was left off the All-Star roster. They’re 9-17 (0.346) right now. Technically, it’s an improvement, but barely.

And while Beal’s defensive ineptitude was an excuse for leaving him off last season, he hasn’t transformed himself into a feared defender this season. The Wizards are bad on that end, and Beal usually stands out for the wrong reasons.

On offense, however, Beal is too good to ignore. He’s already scored 30+ points in 16 games this season. He has three games with at least 40 points and one with 60. At this point, scoring totals that would be career-highs for most guys are routine for Beal. Expected, almost.

When you’re this good for this long, people are bound to notice. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Beal has averaged 31.2 points per game. He’s the real deal. It’s about time he gets his flowers.

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