By Michael Huberman
Bradley Beal’s first four games in the NBA have certainly been eventful. After a hot start in his debut with eight first-half points, Beal was held scoreless during the second-half of the Wizards’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his second game, Beal was ineffective in 22 minutes, going 0-5 from the floor and finishing with just two points.
After the slow and frustrating start to his NBA career, the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft was very open about his struggles through two games.
“I have too many people in my ear, so I have to eliminate that and keep my circle small and focus on what the team needs to do and what I need to do. I know a lot of people want me to do this, this and this, but that’s not important to me. We're trying to get wins. We’re 0-2 so we have to figure out how to get wins and the outside people need to stay on the outside.”
While the Wizards are still winless, it hasn’t been because of Beal’s play. In Wednesday night's overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, Beal went 6-15 from the field, including 3-8 from long distance on his way to 16 points. Last night against Milwaukee, Beal had the best game in his short pro career as he scored 22 points in the Wizards’ 101-91 loss.
However Beal’s breakout performance was marred by an incident at the very end of the game. After a hard foul on Bucks guard Monta Ellis, which was called a flagrant 2, Beal was shoved by Ellis’ teammate Brandon Jennings. The resulting skirmish led to both Jennings and Beal being ejected from the game, obviously a first for the rookie.
“I went for the ball but they called it a flagrant 2,” Beal said after the game. “It is what it is. I guess [Jennings] called that defending his teammate and came and pushed me, but that’s all a part of basketball. It gets physical and I just have to deal with it.”
At the very least Beal will likely face a fine, if not further disciplinarily action. The good news for the Wizards and their fans is that it looks the rookie has put his slow start behind him.
At the beginning of the season, Beal was seen as a candidate for the Rookie of the Year award. Right now, Beal is fourth in scoring by rookies at 12 PPG, behind Portland’s Damian Lillard (18.6 PPG), New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (17.3 PPG), and Cleveland’s Dion Waiters (16.7 PPG), who was picked right after Beal in the draft. While Beal is shooting only 28% from three, he’s perfect from the free throw line so far, going 13-13. After a rocky start, Beal is right in the mix for the league’s top rookie, just like many thought he would be.
At just 19-years-old, Beal will of course experience many more highs and lows during his rookie season. But after his last two games, Beal is displaying the talent and newfound aggressiveness that make him such an integral part of the Wizards future.