Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal went down in their game on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers with what has been diagnosed as a sprained left ankle. On Tuesday afternoon, Beal was only able to shoot free throws at practice and he is also listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Subsequently, third-year guard Garrett Temple will most likely get the start in Beal’s place.
In just his third season, Temple has already been a member of six NBA teams in his career to date. He’s also only played in 78 games in his career, 27 of them coming this season with the Wizards. He’s averaged just 16.8 minutes per game and put up just 3.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game and has shot just 38.1 percent from the field and 17.2 percent from long-range.
Temple also had to start 14 games earlier this season because of injuries. In those 14 games, he averaged 4.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game in 24.6 minutes. However, he shot just 32.9 percent from the field and 13.6 percent from beyond the arc when he was in the starting-five.
That type of production isn’t going to cut it when it comes to replacing Beal. As of late, Beal has been arguably the Wizards’ best player. Since the beginning of February, he has averaged 18.3 points, 2.3 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game and has shot the ball with great efficiency at 48.2 percent from the floor and 46.5 percent from three.
With Temple replacing Beal, it seems like Washington’s offense is likely to struggle. Beal has been a legitimate offensive weapon and a dead-eye shooter over the past month or so, two things that Temple has never proven he can be in his young career.
Given his offensive shortcomings, Temple is going to have to play solid defensively and hope to stifle his matchup, which is likely Luke Ridnour. In his 14 starts, Temple had a defensive rating of 100.6, which is solid but not terrific by any measure. But in the 13 games where Temple came off the bench, he actually had a defensive rating of 92.9. That number is slightly skewed by the limited number of minutes he plays in that role, but it shows that he is capable of playing proficient defense.
If the Wizards want to walk out of their game with Minnesota with a victory, the play of Temple is going to be key. He has to be able to stop the Wolves’ wing-players with solid defense. He’s not talented enough offensively to affect the game in a big way by scoring the ball. If he doesn’t play solid defense, the Wizards will have a hard time securing a victory.