Even a veteran of the NBA life like Wizards 52-year-old head coach Randy Wittman admitted to some tossing and turning the night before the first day of training camp. As for 19-year-old Bradley Beal, the talented guard drafted to knock down 3's, his sleep was all about getting Z's."I didnt have any trouble at all."There's the pressure of being the third overall selection in the NBA Draft. There's the reality that less than two years ago he was playing in high school and is just a handful of months removed from the college scene - and yet Tuesday's first practice was just that, practice."It was fine. It was just like any other practice," said Beal, talking with the media on the Patriot Center court at George Mason University minutes after his first professional training camp workout."I wasnt nervous. I didnt come in nervous. Its just a normal thing. I came in to work hard and prove myself, just keep battling and try to earn my spot."The largely no-contact practice still involved plenty of running as Wittman ran the team through various offensive sets. The sweat that poured off Beal's head as he recapped the day in front of reporters and camera came from on-court effort, not stress.
"It was pretty good. It was fun to get up and down with the guys, just seeing everybody perform with energy, guys competing. No contact, really. It was a still a good time," Beal said.Call it youthful unawareness; call it being mature beyond his years, but once again Beal's composure, a trait exhibited during the Las Vegas summer league presented itself - and in a scenario where the battles for playing time are no mere exhibitions. "Very talented. Im impressed with his poise," Jannero Pargo said. Signed by the Wizards on Monday, Pargo played alongside Beal on the de facto second unit during the portion of practice open to the media. "I think a lot of rookies come in and they press and try too hard," said Pargo, himself a veteran of eight previous NBA campaigns. "It seemed like he took his time and went hard when it was time to go hard and he looked pretty good."Beal, he of the textbook jumper, also made an impression with his play."He can shoot the ball. He can really shoot the ball," said Trevor Ariza, part of the half-dozen new guys on the roster including the Florida Gator product. "Hes ready to play. He can play."The when Beal plays and for how often is yet to be determined, though early indications point to the Wizards keeping him within the confines of the familiar shooting guard role even with John Wall's injury."Nobody needs to be anything more than they are," Wittman said. "This team wasn't build solely based on one player to carry us. We're seeing it. Opportunities might expand from a playing situation. We just got to worry about Bradley being Bradley, being a rookie coming into this situation seeing how much he can handle seeing how much he can't handle before we get into deciding to thrust somebody further along that we need to be."Though comfortable with the ball in his hands, Beal is on the same page when it comes to his initial role."It shouldnt change at all," Beal said. "We still have other point guards here, and we just have to keep moving forward. Theyre pretty different than John, but thats something youve got to adjust to. Things happen in the game, injuries happen so you just have to keep moving forward."Like the rest of the roster, Beal arrived physically ready for the rigors of camp - Wittman stated he was "impressed with our conditioning." Unlike many in his age range, Beal grasps that the physical component is only part of the equation for success on the highest level."Ive been faced with this situation almost all my life. Ive always had to grow up faster than what I am. Im mentally prepared for that, honestly," Beal said. "Ive always been like that. Im humble, and guys always say I act older than what I am so I always keep that mentally and make sure everything is focused and serious. Its a business so if I have to grow up fast, like everybody wants me to, Im willing to do that."For the record, there was at least one tumble in the rookie's day. As the media shuffled into the stands overlooking the court, all eyes noticed in the flow a play the 6-foot-4 guard falling, hitting the hardwood and then staying down for an extra beat or two. Before any heartbeats were elevated, Beal hoped back up and carried on, no worse for wear."I tripped over the line," he later joked. "As soon as you guys walked in, I guess I got nervous. I get a coupon this time, but it wont happen again."We'll call it a slip. Certainly had little to do with nerves.