Bucher: Wiz handled Beal right
Now that we are nearing season's end, all kinds of year-end reviews are taking place across the NBA media spectrum. What is so interesting this time is that when it comes to the Wizards:
1) Their players are mentioned
2) Their players are mentioned in a positive light
That goes double for the backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal, specifically how highly the pair projects going forward.
The Wall accolades poured in over the couple of weeks as the point guard dominated throughout the month of March. As for Beal, who is now out for the remainder of his first NBA season with a leg injury, SI.com mentioned the sweet-shooting guard twice recently. Once in the context of grading the entire 2012 NBA draft class, once as the centerpiece for an article on "overlooked rookies."
In some ways, the two articles cover the same territory so we'll just highlight the "B+" mark handed out to the 19-year-old. The grade seems within reason, though those that have watched Beal's development since the calendar flipped (including the author) acknowledge the massive leap taken by the perimeter threat. From SI.com:
Beal’s supporters are surely petitioning Basketball-Reference.com to list his numbers as “With John Wall” and “Without John Wall.” No other rookie has been subject to such a dramatic tale of two seasons, as his most efficient scoring play types — spot-up shooting and transition — have been transformed by the presence of a real point guard. The fact that Beal couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn until January throws off all of his percentages, but he’s managed to climb back to a quasi-respectable PER of 13.6 and raise his three-point shooting to a very respectable 37.7 percent.
Only quibble I have with the with and without Wall framing of Beal's season is that the growth began before Wall's return; Beal scored at least 22 points in three of the five January games before Wall's debut on the 12th. Included in that stretch, he sank 5 of 7 3-pointers plus the game-winning floater to beat Oklahoma City. Better with Wall, no doubt, just not a creation of the point guard's mere presence.
For comparison, only Portland's Rookie of the Year front-runner Damian Lillard (A), New Orleans center and the No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis (A-) and Detroit's Andre Drummond (A-) received higher grades than Beal. Lillard has been a beast from the jump while the two big men, notably Drummond, have statistical types hyping their rookie campaigns more for what their respective future's might hold than what transpired on the court this season. Also, all the missed games - 26 by year's end - also hurt Beal's cause.
As I said on Twitter yesterday, in a close race, a large man will receive all tiebreakers from evaluators, which is why Wizards' fans should pass on nitpicking Beal not joining the A-listers.