Monday night in the 90-84 win over Toronto, Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 21 points and was arguably the team's best player. Not sure who would argue for another player, but perhaps.
Neither the statistical note nor the observation is newsworthy. Most nights recently, this is how it goes and on the season Beal has led the Wizards in scoring 17 times. The rookie's numbers and confidence have been on the rise since the yearly calendar flipped - and then some over the last six games. Meanwhile the St. Louis native is displaying veteran craftiness beyond his 19-years and under the radar solid defense.
On the season, the Beal is averaging 13.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals while shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
Considering the adjustment from one season of college to the NBA, the Wizards horrid start and playing a good chunk of the season without backcourt mate John Wall, those numbers are in line if not exceeding most preseason expectations.
Considering the rookie's clanking and unsure start to the campaign, those numbers are legitimately impressive. In November, Beal shot 34.1 percent overall and 32.7 on 3-pointers. In December, 36.8 and 18.4 (Beal's 3-point attempts per game have ranged from 4.0-4.2 each month this season).
During 22 games in 2013, Beal's significantly upped his scoring (15.9 points) and accuracy, shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 50.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Despite the broader offensive portfolio, Beal is averaging only 1.5 turnovers per game.
Now, time for some context:
*Since Jan. 1, Beal is one of two NBA players averaging at least 15 points while shooting 45 percent from field and from the 3-point arc (the other, Dallas' Vince Carter).
*Atlanta's Kyle Korver, the NBA's leading 3-point shooter on the season, is connecting on 46.4 percent of his attempts (Martell Webster is second at 44.9).
*Since New Year's Day, Beal against Portland guard Damian Lillard, the Rookie of the Year frontrunner. Lillard has Beal on points (18.2), assists (6.6) and free throw percentage (87.5 to Beal's 71.6). Steals are even but just about all other numbers tilt Beal's way. Both guards make about two 3-pointers per game, but Beal is taking two fewer attempts per outing.
*Averages since Jan. 1 for Cleveland's wing guard Dion Waiters, selected one slot behind Beal in the 2012 Draft and Kyrie Irving's backcourt partner: 14.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.0 turnovers. He also shoots 45 percent from the field, but just 27.8 on 3-pointers.
*Over his last six games, a stretch that includes a career-high 28 points against Milwaukee, Beal's stats: 20.2 (pts), 5.2 (reb), 2.67 (ast), 1.2 (stl), 51. 7 (FG pct), 50.0 (3pt pct)
*Stephen Curry is not the ideal NBA comparison for Beal since the Golden State star plays more of a lead guard role (also Golden State is significantly a more high-scoring bunch than Washington) , but the similarities exist with their perimeter shooting. On the season, Curry averages are 21.0 (pts), 4.1 (reb), 6.6 (ast), 1.6 (stl), 43.6 (FG pct), 43.9 (3pt pct).
*Finally, even before Bradley Beal officially became a Washington Wizard, we heard the comparisons to Ray Allen. Rather than make a broad evaluation, let's just look at Allen's rookie stats. With Milwaukee during the 1996-97 season, Allen averaged 13.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals while shooting 43 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc. At least in the numbers game as first-year players, there are similarities between Beal and Allen.