It was a tough time. It was not enjoyable. It was a time where a certain point guard (John Wall) was missing his sidekick.
Bradley Beal had been emerging as an All-Star shooting guard. He was stroking the basketball from deep and getting easy buckets. Through 12 games, he was averaging 20.8 points per game and was shooting 44.4 percent from 3-point land. He made the offense go just as much as All-Star point guard John Wall did.
Then he re-injured the right fibula that he injured last season. And the Wizards missed him.
Bradley Beal brings a whole other dynamic to the Wizards offense that no one else can.
Wall has been extremely good this season and it is hard to dispute that, but a large reason he has been so good is because Beal has made the sophomore jump that most franchises hope their No. 3 picks take (Beal was the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft). The problem is that most of them do not make that jump.
Mr. Beal has, though.
Beal has made a big jump this season and his stats show it. His points have increased by around six points per game from last season and he has taken on a different demeanor coming into this season. He is a huge reason why Wall is the second-best assist man in the league and is looking like the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Beal’s ability to keep defenses honest has opened up Wall’s arsenal and it has been fun to see. Wall may be the Wizards best player, but Beal brings a dynamic that cannot be matched.
It was never more evident than the Wizards 102-101 win over the New York Knicks Monday night.
It was a game of runs in the battle Monday night, as most NBA games are. It appeared the Wizards were in total control and than the Knicks came back with their “superstars” to make it a ball game in the Big Apple.
The problem for the Knicks was, the Wizards had Bradley Beal back and he was the difference in this one.
Beal poured in 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting while shooting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. And he did it with the pressure on.
There was under a minute left and one of the first big questions of the Wizards season was presented. Who gets the ball in the final minute? Beal or Wall?
Well, Monday night it was all Beal.
Beal received the ball on the left wing and sized up his opponent. It was a deep ball, but he decided a couple feet beyond the 3-point line was no problem and calmly sank the trey to tie the game.
Big time players step up in big time games, especially in Madison Square Garden and that 3-pointer by Beal, which tied the game up at 100-100, was just the first part of him leading the Wizards to victory.
On the following possession, the Knicks Beno Udrih made one of two foul shots to make give the Knicks a 101-100 lead.
The struggles did not end for Udrih there.
On the following possession, Beal took a handoff from Wall and calmly dribbled to his left. He then realized that he could blow by Udrih.
And that is what he did.
He blitzed by Udrih on the left wing and finished with his right hand to give the Wizards a 102-101 lead and eventually the victory.
Bradley Beal showed how big he can be for the Wizards tonight. Without Beal, the Wizards were 5-5, which is not terrible. However, they did not have a constant threat late in the clock. Wall is who they often relied on, but he settles too much, like he did when he had the chance to end the Atlanta Hawks last week before overtime, but settled for a fallaway jump shot.
Beal brings another dimension. His ability to knock down shots all over the court and off the dribble gives Wall options. Having options is one one of the most underrated traits of executing late in NBA games. Most teams do not have multiple players to turn too.
With Bradley Beal back, the Washington Wizards have a premier shooting guard in this league as well as another big-time option to look to late in games.
John Wall and the Wizards approve.