Bradley Beal was an All-NBA player last season, averaging 31.3 points a game (second in the league) with a 59.2 true shooting percentage (well above league average) while carrying the fourth-highest usage rate in the league. Beal was the Wizards’ offense, and his play had other players recruiting him and fan bases hoping he’d jump ship to them.
This season Beal got some help: Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, all acquired this offseason, give the Wizards their most balanced roster in years. Behind them, Washington got off to a 13-7 start.
That start was more in spite of Beal than because of him, and as the Wizards have dropped 5-of-7 he has not been able to lift them up. Beal has not been himself this season, which is a kinder way than he put it to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington when the recent inconsistent play of Harrell and Caldwell-Pope came up.
“In all fairness, I’ve been s***y all year. So, I’m not going to sit here and talk about two other guys who have really been helping our team out,” Beal said. “I’ll put that on me before them. I have to be better, I have to lead better, I have to produce and lead this team like I want to.”
Beal’s averaging 22.5 points a game, shooting 26.3% from 3-point range, and with a 52.4 true shooting percentage — all his lowest numbers in years. Beal is not shooting as well from floater range (3-10 feet), but the real drop-off is from 3, where he is shooting the worst of his career.
Beal also has the highest turnover rate of his career, 14% of his used possessions (where he finishes the possession or makes a pass to finish it).
“It’s an adjustment getting used to knowing where we’re supposed to be in our spots, kind of making passes that aren’t there. Sometimes I get caught dribbling in between two many guys,” Beal explained.
The Wizards still sit seventh in the East, with a legitimate chance to climb up a spot and avoid the play-in all together.
Beal can be a free agent this summer, and while the Wizards have put a max contract extension in front of him — four years, $181 million — Beal has chosen not to sign it. The reason is primarily financial — he can get five years, $242 million from Washington this summer — but it also gives him leverage. Despite the slump to start the season, that max offer will be there next summer.
The Wizards could use the vintage version of Beal now, however.