Wake-up call: Ariza likely shifts to Beal's position

Wake-up call: Ariza likely shifts to Beal's position
March 15, 2014, 6:00 am
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It's safe to assume that before Bradley Beal is officially declared out by the Wizards for Saturday's home game vs. the Brooklyn Nets, he won't be allowed to play. Nor should he. Even if the preliminary diagnosis of a right ankle sprain holds up after a more detailed MRI, Beal's injury history to that leg makes sitting him in the short-term more prudent despite a playoff seeding being on the line.

Beal, who has had two stress injuries to the same small bone in his lower right leg in an eight-month span, already has missed nine games this season and played mostly with a minutes restriction. 

"It feels fine. I can put pressure on it. I can walk. We'll see how it feels tomorrow," said Beal, who also had an issue with back tightness. "It rolled all the way over. That's all I can remember. ... I was just hoping it wasn't broken."

Stress injuries, or reactions, are precursors to fractures which are season-ending and potentially career-ending. Among the what-could've-been stories from the '80s was Andrew Toney, an All-Star who won an NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers and had his career short-circuited because of stress fractures in his feet. Beal, in his second season, will be 21 this summer.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman has some options, though he prefers to shift Trevor Ariza to shooting guard and play Martell Webster, usually the sixth man, as the starting small forward.

When Beal missed those nine games, this lineup was used for seven of those. Webster didn't play in the other two because he'd sprained his left ankle. 

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That was an uncomfortable time, however, as the Wizards had unproductive bench players such as Jan Vesely and Eric Maynor, and Al Harrington was out with a right knee injury.

Now, Harrington is back and Wittman has Andre Miller, who doesn't have Beal's shooting range but does have a post-up game that gives the Wizards a different look. He hasn't shared the backcourt much with Wall since coming over in a Feb. 20 trade that moved Vesely and Maynor, though pairing him with a three-point shooter is likely a better option to stretch the floor. 

Garrett Temple has logged spot minutes since the Wizards acquired Miller and moves up the rotation with Beal being hurt. Temple, however, is more of a defensive option. 

Otto Porter wasn't sent to the D-League because he's more acclimated than fellow rookie Glen Rice, who is playing there with the Iowa Energy. Porter has shown flashes in the few minutes he has received lately and likely slots into Webster's usual role. If he can shoot a solid percentage, he can earn more time on the floor. 

Chris Singleton has proven to be a competent option at forward, too, though his shooting ability can be limited. He's a better and stronger rebounder than Porter which is how he will get most of his points. Plus, he's more experienced.

[RELATED: Beal's ankle sprain is on same leg as stress injuries]

Drew Gooden can do a little bit of everything in the post and Kevin Seraphin, who hadn't played in eight games because of right knee soreness until Friday, looks sharp. 

So without Beal for a little while, the Wizards have more than enough options, especially given their schedule, to get by.

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