The Washington Wizards have one of the brightest, most explosive backcourts in all of professional basketball today. You all know point guard John Wall by now. A former number one overall draft pick and rookie of the year runner-up, Wall is quickly emerging into one of the best young point guards in the league. However, his partner in crime is going to make a name for himself in year two.
If you don’t know Bradley Beal, get out from under the rock and get familiar.
During his rookie year, Beal showed signs of a budding superstar, averaging 13.9 points, 2.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 three-pointers per contest. You look at those numbers and you aren’t exactly blown away, but not so fast. Towards the beginning of the season, Beal did not have Wall alongside him to create better scoring opportunities. And even when Wall was in the lineup, he began the season as a scoring-minded player, rather than a setup man. However, that changed as the season progressed, as Wall ultimately finished the year averaging a strong 7.6 assists per contest. Also, Beal missed 26 games last season with a stress fracture, which hindered his fantasy potential. However, Beal is looking like 100 percent right about now, and if this year’s preseason is any indication, we may be looking at one of the league’s future dominant scorers.
In seven preseason games, Beal was one of the top three players in the league. He made 56 of 108 field goal attempts (51.9%), and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line as well. Beal also contributed in other areas, posting 20 rebounds, 11 assists, nine steals and three blocks. He’s also dominating from beyond the arc, shooting a stifling 47.2 percent from three-point range. The sophomore guard played 212 minutes this preseason (20th-most), and will be asked to log as many minutes as possible during his second year with the Wizards. Last season, Beal played 31.2 minutes per contest, and as long as he’s healthy, he’ll easily eclipse that total this year. He averaged 20.7 points per game this preseason, and I think he can easily match that number during the regular season.
And then some.
With no other dominant scorers on the Wizards offense, Beal will get plenty of opportunity. He only attempted 687 field goals last year, but still managed to average almost 14 points per game. Beal took about 12 shots per contest a season ago, but with a year under his belt, that number will rise, especially if John Wall continues to serve as the playmaker in this offense. However, Beal may present more than just scoring this year. The Wizards just recently acquired big man Marcin Gortat, who is a capable 15-point scorer when he is on. If that’s the case, Beal could see his assist totals climb upwards towards the range of five or six, which would be huge for his total value.
A recent podcast guest on ESPN made a bold prediction, stating that Beal will average more points per game than anyone not named LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony this season. Now, I don’t know if I’m ready to go that far, but I do strongly believe Beal will average at least 20 points per contest, serving as one of the biggest fantasy breakouts for 2013.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.