NBA 2018/19: Bradley Beal deserves better than a chaotic Wizards franchise
For the second consecutive time on Saturday, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal posted a 40-point game. The Wizards' 135-128 win over the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies is the fourth game on a five-game homestand for the Wizards who have thus far gone three and one.
However, it is all moot. With just 12 games to go in the 2018-19 NBA regular season, the Wizards sit three games back of the Miami Heat for the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference at 30-40.
With Point Guard, John Wall, who recently signed a max contract extension, sidelined for the rest of this season and most likely the entirety of the next one after falling and slipping in his home, the Wizards' chances of having any chance of medial postseason success are all but finished not just for this season, but next one as well.
As a result, the Wizards should do right by its one true superstar, Bradley Beal, and trade him as quickly as possible to a team that can actually contend in the next five years for an NBA championship - at least while Beal is still in his prime and can be a large, contributing factor for any team looking to achieve glory in June.
The biggest mistake the Wizards have committed in recent years is building around John Wall and not Bradley Beal: the true superstar of the Wizards. Not only would they have been able to keep Otto Porter Jr., who is a solid player on any contending team, but the Wizards would not have to spend the next few weeks wondering where their ping pong balls will fall in the NBA Draft lottery.
Coming out of the University of Florida, the Wizards were well aware of the potential that Beal had as a shooter. While shooting 44% from two and 33% from three-point range are not anything to write home about, at 15 points and 7 rebounds per game, the potential was clearly there for Beal to be an elite scorer at the next level.
This is why the Wizards used the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to take Beal and pair him with Wall as their backcourt duo for the next decade.
Beal, unlike Wall, has done his part and developed into a complete player. Beal, now in his seventh season, has really come into his own as a scorer in the last three seasons. After never averaging more than 17 points per game in his first four seasons, he has averaged 23, 22, and currently 26 points per game in his last three seasons.
Beal has also improved his efficiency as a scorer on top of increasing his scoring average by more than five points per game. After failing to shoot even 50% from two-point range in his first four seasons, Beal has shot 53.8%, 50.7%, and now 54.8% from two-point range this season.
While Beal’s three-point percentage has gone down this season to 36%, his career three-point percentage is still a very good 38%. In fact, he has made the 10th most three-point attempts of any player in the NBA this season with 187, which also ranks fourth among all shooting guards behind only James Harden, Stephen Curry, Paul George, and Buddy Hield.
Beal also ranks 16th in the NBA among players who get consistent minutes with an Offensive Box Plus/Minus of 4.0. Beal’s VORP of 3.4 also ranks him tied for the 17th highest VORP in the NBA with Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic.
This means that Beal, at least as far as his offensive production is concerned, is almost irreplaceable.
Take that into account as well as the fact that Beal has the 25th highest usage rate percentage among players that are healthy and playing consistent NBA minutes every night at 28.4%. He also leads the NBA in minutes played this season with 2,641; 202 minutes more than the second closest player, Tobias Harris (2,439).
This means that Beal is essentially irreplaceable for the Wizards offensively and the only real reason why they even have an outside shot at making the playoffs right now (as outside as it might be; the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic are not exactly juggernauts).
While the Wizards may now realize with Wall being out for such an extensive period of time that building around him and Beal, and not Beal and another player, is such an unfortunate mistake, you cannot move time backwards.
You reap what you sow, and the Wizards are suffering right now.
Possessing a point guard who draws a max salary out for potentially 18 months, having to trade a really nice complementary small forward in Porter Jr. and having almost no talent anywhere else on the roster due to being tied up in salary, the Wizards should consider trading Beal to a contending team who is one elite piece away from winning the title, like the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, or Milwaukee Bucks.