Bradley Beal Emerging as Leader for Washington Wizards

By Brian Skinnell
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, first-year player Bradley Beal had to grow up fast since the Washington Wizards were without point guard John Wall. This season, all of his experience has propelled him into a leadership in Washington.

This season, Beal leads the team in minutes-per-game (40) and is second in points-per-game (18.4). Even with Wall back in the lineup, he has proven to be a staple of the offense and a player that they have made a point to get the ball. On a couple of occasions this season, we have seen Washington trust him with the basketball in a close game. At the end of regulation, it was Beal — not Wall — that was given the final shot.

Sunday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder was no exception. Beal led all scorers with 34 points including six-of-eight from behind the arc. In the final minute of the game, Beal hit a crucial deep two-pointer to give the Wizards some extra cushion that was later surrendered in the 105-106 overtime loss on the road.

Bradley Beal has taken that next step with the Washington Wizards. No longer do they need to rely on John Wall to get the job done offensively. While Wall is the team’s playmaker, Beal is your scorer. Washington should trust Wall with the final shot, they did Sunday night, but Wall should rely on Beal when he’s looking for the open man. He’s improved his shooting from last season and it’s shown so far in this young season.

As mentioned above, both Beal and Wall were given opportunities to win the game for the Wizards. Defensively, that can cause trouble. Being able to rely on two different players to make a game-winning shot only opens up opportunities for plays you can run for the final shot. It’s also a testament to the level of trust that Washington has in Beal since they are giving him the rock in crunch time.

Washington is in quite the desirable situation in the frontcourt. Wall is already a premiere player and scorer in the NBA and Beal is fast becoming one, himself. He’s had to grow up fast and handled the learning curve with ease. They’re off to a slow start this season, but the best is yet to come from this team that has a new leader in Bradley Beal emerging.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for and contributor at Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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