When the Washington Wizards drafted a then 19 year old Bradley Beal with the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, most fans and media pundits envisioned a dynamic back-court duo along with budding star John Wall. Despite the obvious flaws in each players individual games, the duo has been as played as well as you would have envisioned considering their youth. There has been one underlying issue for the future of the tandem, Beal’s health and upcoming restricted free agency status this offseason.
Whether its the ongoing stress fracture in his leg, or the various nicks and bruises that only seem to happen to him, the fact that this is has been a re-occurrence in each of his four seasons in Washington makes people wonder aloud “Is Beal actually worth a maximum level contract?”
If we were going by sheer numbers, the question is honestly and emphatic “no” but we aren’t talking about sheer numbers. We have all seen flashes of a “max player” when it matters in playoff time in both 2014 and especially in 2015 where he averaged 23 pts, 5.5 assists, 4.6 steals and 1.5 steals while being the sole offensive focus of the opposing defenses as John Wall would miss 4 games with injury himself. A conundrum to say the least.
We have seen it. We want more. We as fans “deserve” good things. We don’t want to see Beal always injured. His injuries this season derailed what was a great start for him averaging over 20 pts per the first month of the season and shooting 40% from 3. Even in this injury riddled season, he has averaged career highs in scoring 17.8 and shooting the best percentage from the field in his career at 45%. Unfortunately, the team has been so poorly constructed , the fact Beal has missed time has severely affected the team in all phases.
This is where Beal has all the leverage. Without Beal, the Wizards have no one on the roster that can create offense with perimeter shooting so it makes his loss even more devastating when he’s out of the lineup. He is capable defender, and someone who is still improving his shot selection . Losing him to free agency would be devastating to a franchise that seems to never make the correct moves to take them over the top, a high draft pick that actually has panned out, must be kept on the roster.
Each team in the NBA will be awash with riches as the salary cap will take a huge jump as the 1st year of the new TV deal takes into effect, the Wizards will have almost 26 million dollars to play around with. With that being the facts, they can not mess around and let Beal walk and watch him develop into what we all believe he can. With the Wizards floundering amid underachievement without his presence and possibly missing this years playoff festivities, it would be our luck that he kicks the bad luck as has happened to many players in the league that were injured early and often in their careers like Dwyane Wade, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mark Price and wound up having very successful careers. It would be a big pill to swallow if that happened under another teams’ watch.