When the Washington Wizards traded Rashard Lewis and the No. 46 pick in this year’s NBA Draft to the New Orleans Hornets for center Emeka Okafor and wing player Trevor Ariza they gained two pieces of their projected starting lineup for the 2012-2013 season. Okafor and Ariza will join Nene, who will slide to power forward, and face-of-the-franchise point guard John Wall in head coach Randy Whittman’s first choice five. With Nick Young shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers this past spring and Jordan Crawford probably better suited to a sixth man role the shooting guard position was the weakest position of the starting unit.
The Wizards addressed that spot tonight by selecting Bradley Beal from the University of Florida with the third overall selection. During his lone season in Gainesville the 6’4″ guard averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds on 44% shooting from the floor and 34% from behind the three-point line. He became the first Gators player to earn first team All-SEC and first team All-SEC freshman honors in the same season.
Beal might be a bit undersized as a shooting guard in the NBA, and admittedly needs to improve his ball handling, but if there’s one thing he can do it’s shoot. And that’s exactly what the Wizards need from him. Beal should benefit greatly from John Wall’s ability to penetrate/break down defenses and Nene is an adequate and willing passer out of the low post. Beal will also provide help on the glass and be a more than capable option in the transition game. Two areas that shouldn’t go unnoticed are his work ethic and reputation as a high character guy, which will fit in well with what Washington is trying build going forward.
Beal compared his game to shooter extraordinaire Ray Allen and while we have quite a few years to see if that holds true the Wizards will be more than happy with their choice if the talented guard can carve out even half of Allen’s career for himself.
Expectations are always tough to gauge with rookies and Crawford will hamper Beal’s numbers a bit but the youngster’s shooting ability should yield double-digit points on a nightly basis and he should make a respectable contribution in the rebounding department. As his ball handling improves Beal could see some time at point guard when John Wall is off the floor, which will yield a few assists as well. Defensively he might struggle with some of the taller shooting guards in the league, but Beal is more than strong enough to hold is own in post up situations.
The Washington Wizards have had a productive last week or so in shaping the roster for next season highlighted by the selection of Bradley Beal, who should be a fixture in the backcourt for years to come.