Mar 14, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal's Mid-Range Struggles

The mid-range jump shot has become somewhat of a lost art in basketball these days.  And for good reasons.  The analytical movement, specifically in the NBA, has proven the mid-range jumper to be inefficient and 3-point shooting as a more efficient alternative.  The basic thinking is, why not just take a shot a few steps back that is worth more points?

The Wizards Bradley Beal should really consider shying away from the mid-range jump shot because he is simply not good at it.

Beal is consider by many one of the top shooters in the league.  He has as smooth of a stroke as there is in the league.  He scores a solid 17 points per game while shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point land.  The average NBA fan probably thinks Beal is one of the top shooters in the league based off highlights, the 3-point contest, and his nice looking stroke.  The problem is he is not an elite shooter.  In fact, he is somewhat of an inefficient shooter.  It starts and ends with his struggles shooting the basketball inside the 3-point line.

Today, I tortured myself and watched all 52 of Beal’s right corner mid-range shots to make me hate basketball for the 20 minutes I spent wondering why Beal was shooting these shots.  But seriously, Beal’s shot selection has been a huge frustration for Wizards fans for the entire season.  While Beal is an awesome player and a fan favorite, I find him hard to watch at times and all 52 of those shots I watched today is the reason why.

Of the 52 shots, Beal shot 45 of them off the dribble.  The already inefficient mid-range jump shot becomes even more inefficient the second the ball hits the hardwood.  When I wasn’t banging my head on my desk, I did notice that Beal only made 13 of those 45 mid-range jumpers off the dribble.  That is 28.8 percent.  And yeah, what you are thinking is correct, that is very, very bad.

There are many problems I noticed with Beal, specifically in that corner.  The first is his inability to get separation off the dribble.  Beal struggles immensely creating room with a defender using the dribble.  This allows defenders to stick with Beal and force him into tough shots.  Beal’s inability to create space is painfully obvious late in the shot clock.  Multiple times, Beal had the ball with the shot clock running down and tried to get a good shot and simply couldn’t because defenders just stayed glued to him.  All elite two guards in the NBA have the ability get shooting space from a defender.  Beal just isn’t there yet and that leads to have taking difficult shots with defenders draped all over him.

Mar 14, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) shoots against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The second problem is what the Wizards are doing on offense.  They constantly run Beal off a big man at the high post to help him get the ball on the move and then have a big man there to help him get a good shot.  It is sporadic and doesn’t seem to really work.  Beal will run back and forth a few times to get the handoff and then look for a play to be made.  The problem is Beal is not a good enough creator to make something happen so he usually settles for a jump shot, leading him to shoot 34.6 percent (194-for-550) from three feet up to the 3-point line.

Right inside the 3-point line is where Beal shoots the most and unfortunately, it is where his is at his worst.



The dribble handoff action puts Beal in a tough situation because his decision making is not the best.  You have to remember this is second year player, who missed time last season and this season.  He is till learning the NBA game.  He takes a lot of tough long two pointers.  Why run this type of action when it leads to nothing good?  Hey Randy Whittman, John Wall wants the ball back.  Let Wall create  for Beal.  Watching the videos of Beal from the mid-range right corner, he looked really solid when he was getting the ball on a kick out or a skip pass and attacking a hard closeout.  When a defender closes out on Beal hard, he doesn’t have to be a great ball handler.  All he has to do is read the defender and use his quickness to get by.  Of the shots he made (not many), a lot of them were on closeouts and led to wide open pull up jumpers.  This brings me back to getting Wall the ball more instead of running that inefficient dribble handoff action.  Wall’s penetration leads to many open threes for Beal and when defenders close out to hard, Beal can settle into an easier mid-range jumper.  The dribble handoff action is taking away from that and leading to many Wizards fans screaming at Bradley Beal every time he shoots inside the three-point line.

Beal is one of only three players in the entire league who takes more than seven pull up jump shots a game and shoots lower than 35 percent on those shots (Wall is one of the others, Yay for bad shots!).  On his current pace, Beal will be the only player since the three-point line was introduced to average more than 17 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from three and less than 41 percent from the field.  I have to be honest, I don’t really know what this means and it may even be a reach for a stat, but I do think it shows how an inefficient of a two point shooter Beal is.  It also shows how important Wall is to his success.  Beal is such a  good three-point shooter and a lot of it is because of Wall’s penetration and passing ability.  93.5 percent of Beal’s threes are assisted on.  Wall has 616 assists on the year, the most total in the NBA.  I think you can see that correlation.

Nov 23, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) celebrates with Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) against the New York Knicks in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 98-89. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Beal is capable of becoming an elite shooter and I think he will at some point in his career, but he is not close to being that guy just yet.  He must continue to work on his mid-range shot, become a better ball handler, and most importantly, make better decisions.  He has to pick his spots.

Just watch this.  And this happensa few times a game. Ugh.

(h/t @MikePradaSBN)

In certain situations, it may better to bring the ball out or swing it around instead of taking a contested long two.  I still think Beal is adjusting to NBA defenses as well as the speed of the game.  I mean he has only played 117 games in the league and is 20 freakin’ years old.  It takes time for young players.  It is going to help playing with wall because Wall will consistently make Beal better year after year and put him in positions to be successful.

But for now Bradley Beal, play to your strengths.  Knock down open threes and attack closeouts off Wall’s drive and kicks and life will be easier.  It will also be more enjoyable for Wizards fans.


Tags: Bradley Beal Washington Wizards

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