The Washington Wizards are currently enduring a three-game losing streak in which they played mostly miserably in losses to the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. During the three-game skid, Bradley Beal is averaging 10.9 points per game while shooting 31.8 percent from the field and has given the Wizards virtually nothing in the three losses.
Bradley Beal must be better in order for the Wizards to find themselves back in the winning column.
Beal is known as a shooter. A guy that can knock down shots from all over the court, but is at his best when he is catching and shooting in rhythm. He shoots 45.4 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, according to NBA.com’s player tracking data. That is the biggest difference for Beal in these last three games than in the other 19 games he has seen action this season, where he had been averaging 18.7 points per game; Beal is not sticking to what he does best. He has gone away from finding open spots on the floor for point guard John Wall to find him in a broken down defense. Instead, he is consistently shooting long 2-pointers off the dribble, which is a highly inefficient shot. Especially for Beal, who is one of only two players in the entire league who attempts more than seven pull-up jump shots and connects on less than 36 percent of those pull-ups. The other player? John Wall.
The difference is that Wall can affect the game in so many other ways, you live with him taking some bad shots. Beal is not as good a defender or playmaker as Wall and when his offensive game is not going, he rarely leaves a mark on the game.
In the last three games for the Wizards, where it is obvious his offensive game is not on, he is averaging only 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He only shot one free throw combined in those losses. For a perimeter player that handles the ball as much as Beal and whose shot was not falling, you would like to see him attack the basket. For him to only get one foul shot says he shut down in those games and did not look to attack the basket. And he did because I watched those three games and he was content with taking long 2s and not doing much else.
Another issue was his defense in the last three losses. In the Toronto and Golden State game he was blatantly lazy on defense. He often left his man, was late on closeouts and was nowhere to be found on rotations around the perimeter. His lack of defense was a big reason why Toronto blew the doors off in the third quarter and outscored the Wizards 36-16 in the period. In the Warriors game, he consistently allowed Klay Thompson to get open on the perimeter for easy shots, which led to 26 points on 64.3 percent shooting.
If his offense is not there a particular game, Beal still needs to defend because it will give his team a better chance to win, but also it could spark his offense. A quick steal leading to a bucket can do wonders for a slumping offensive player as good as Beal.
Beal is an excellent player in this league. A player that has all the makings of an All-Star down the road. However, these last three games, he has not been able to get going and it has taken him out of ballgames completely. The Wizards need to get Beal back to what he has been for most of this season, but if he continues to slump offensively, he has to find other ways to impact the game.