Beal rising to the All-Star challenge

Beal rising to the All-Star challenge
February 15, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Bradley Beal takes to the court in a few hours as part of the NBA All Star game weekend's Rising Stars Challenge. As with all such exhibitions, there is but one rule: do no harm, physical or otherwise.

Beyond that, the game (9 p.m. on TNT) is essentially nothing but upside for the 19-year-old guard, especially for a player who despite being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft remains largely under the national radar. Despite torching the nets from 3-point range since the calendar flipped - 50.6 percent (37-73) in 18 games -, despite ranking third all among rookies with 13.2 points and despite his late-game heroics, Beal's Q rating is not jacked among the casual NBA observer. Charles Barkley liked the guard's game enough to select him eighth overall in the Rising Stars draft.

Granted, the Wizards horrific start didn't help the positive PR cause, nor did the 19-year-old's timid offensive start to the season; he's still shooting under 40 percent from the field. That's what makes Friday's game an interesting opportunity, a rare national showcase and spotlight for a non-John Wall Wizard.

The game's showy - and typically selfish - style itself is not ideal for a player of Beal's fundamentally structured, team-oriented game, though the kid's shown surprising hops on a handful of rising dunks this season. Then again, Team Chuck is not loaded with shooting guards -Ricky Rubio, Brandon Knight and Isaiah Thomas are the primary other backcourt options - so Beal could see plenty of time and receive all the 3-point looks he wants.

Beal has already shown he belongs and that will not change regardless of the exhibition results. Having this platform where many new sets of eyeballs can witness his textbook jumper and polished skill set, that is certainly new. Staying true to the only rule of this kind of game that matters, that is anything but new.

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