Player in focus: Bradley Beal and his journey so far with the Washington Wizards | NBA Season 2020-21

Bradley Beal with the Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal with the Washington Wizards
Kunal Sethi

Bradley Beal has always been one of the most under-appreciated players in the league. He averaged over 30 points per game last season for the Washington Wizards but did not receive any All-Star or All-NBA team selections. Several fans and analysts were upset with the snub and Beal's wife suggested he should be traded to a bigger market team where his talents would be on display in front of a national audience.

However, this season he has continued his scoring brilliance. He is gunning for this year's scoring title and his exploits have led the Washington Wizards to an eight-game winning streak, the second-longest active win streak in the league.

Role with the Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards lays up the ball
Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards lays up the ball

Bradley Beal plays the shooting guard for the Washington Wizards. He has always played the two-guard and his scoring prowess has gotten better with every passing season. He was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2012 with the 3rd overall pick and has elevated himself to an elite All-NBA player.

Bradley Beal can get a bucket in a variety of ways. His role on the team is simply to score and secure points. Although his assist numbers are high, he has never really taken on a playmaking role. Beal usually gets the ball when the team needs a bucket.

Season so far

Bradley Beal is having one of his best seasons in the league. He is paired up with All-star point guard Russell Westbrook and together, the two backcourt stars have shown the league what they are capable of.

The team is severely lacking in All-star talent. Apart from Beal and Westbrook, the rest of the roster is subpar at best and many have suggested surrounding Beal with high-level players so that Beal can show his skills in the postseason as well. In his nine-year career, Bradley Beal has made the playoffs just four times. The Wizards consistently end up in the lower echelons of the Eastern Conference.

This season, however, the Wizards seem different. Russell Westbrook has got a new kind of energy to this team and they have currently won their last eight games in a row.

He is averaging 31.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is scoring on 48/35/89 shooting splits and has an effective FG% of 53%. Beal has recorded over 20+ points in all but four games this season. He has dropped 30+ points 31 times, a league-best, including 5 games when he scored 40+ points and one game when he exploded for 60.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards getting double-teamed by Warriors players
Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards getting double-teamed by Warriors players

Bradley Beal's scoring propensity often sees him getting double-teamed. His average passing skills often save him but he isn't a playmaker by any means. He needs to significantly improve in that area of his game which will help elevate those around him. Elite scorers like Stephen Curry and James Harden have superior passing skills which help them evade double-teams.

We know Beal can get a bucket in a variety of ways. He can drive and finish at the rim, shoot from the outside and also has an excellent midrange game. Beal is very crafty with his scoring skills and knows how to dodge defenders with his ball-handling and finishing ability.

However, a major chink in his armor is his defense. He is not known for his defensive ability and the opposition often exposes him on that side of the floor. Bradley Beal's defensive abilities are limited to grabbing steals and deflecting passes. Whenever he has to lock down a guard on-ball, we often see the offensive player exploit Beal. He has admittedly improved in that area but has a long way to go.

The Washington Wizards' points per possession drop when Beal is off the floor and increases when he comes on. The sheer on/off numbers for Beal have often seen him get designated with the "worst defensive two-guard" title.

Expectations from Bradley Beal going forward

Considering everything goes according to plan and the Washington Wizards continue their dominance, Bradley Beal will be present in playoff action this season. As mentioned earlier, he has very little playoff experience and will have to maintain his production in the grueling postseason as well.

Russell Westbrook has deep playoff experience and should be able to guide its team through the playoffs. Although they aren't expected to go past the first round this season, the hope is that they will make a deep playoff run in the near future.

As of now, the Washington Wizards are at the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference and his high level of scoring will be extremely valuable in the play-in tournament. The 72-game season will be on the line for just 2 games and Bradley Beal is expected to show up and drop a big number.

Also Read: Player in focus: Devin Booker and his journey with the Phoenix Suns so far | NBA Season 2020-21

Edited by Prem Deshpande
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