Beal Appeal: Unsung Hero of Wall’s Return

Since John Wall’s return to the Wizards lineup, the team has gained the confidence needed to turn their season around–a  season that a few weeks ago was the biggest laughing stock of the league. Laden with first round draft choices and overpaid vets, the Wizards seemed a lost cause with no potential to grow.

Due to a rash of injuries to almost every member of the starting roster, lesser known players were forced to step up.

That includes Wizards 2012 top draft pick Bradley Beal. Beal has answered the bell in big way.  He’s learned to adjust on the fly and his game reflects it. He was has stepped into the starting lineup and plays more minutes. Scoring has dramatically increased for the 19-year-old rookie out of Florida.

Beal appears to have found his comfort zone, and with Wall alongside of him, is a dominant player who can take over a game offensively while holding his own on the defensive end. Beal was sidelined for five games with a wrist injury suffered after a hard fall against the Nuggets in Denver. In the second game after his return, Beal came off the bench and set a new career high with a 28-point effort against the Bucks.

The first game following the All-Star break Beal returned to the starting lineup and lead all scorers with 25 points.

Beal has brought the threat of a consistent outside shot to the Wizards, helping create more space for Wall to operate. Beal and Wall complement each other almost perfectly and stress defenses in a variety of ways.

Beal’s being rewarded for his play, selected by Charles Barkley to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend. There, “Team Chuck” defeated team “Team Shaq” by an impressive margin. Beal started the game, played 22 minutes, and finished with 12 points.

Beal also received the honor of being named the Eastern Conference NBA Rookie of the Month for his play in both December and January. Beal is now the second player in franchise history to win the award more than once, John Wall being the first. In January, Beal became the first rookie, since Stephen Curry in 2010, to make at least 50% of his three point attempts over an entire calender month.

Friday night Wall and Beal helped lead the Wizards to their second win against the Denver Nuggets, each registering a double-double. Wall finished with 14 points, 10 assists, and 3 blocks—tying a career high—while Beal came away with the second double-double of his young career, scoring 17 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.

The team’s reunion of projected starters back on the floor has elevated their level of play. It’s no coincidence Wall’s health and the improvements in his teammates’ numbers coincide.

As new rotations gained chemistry, Jordan Crawford’s playing time diminished. Crawford, arguably the team’s most valuable player in the absence of many key personnel, found his new role difficult to accept. The shooting guard’s attitude was a distraction and the Wizards were all but forced to move him before the trade deadline. The Wizards couldn’t get much in return for Crawford: marginal cap space. This is yet another instance of the Wizards trading away a promising young player—once hoped to be a core piece of the team’s future—as a result of the player’s public displeasure with team management.

Wall has solidified himself as the unquestioned leader of this team on and off the court. Beal is becoming the player the Wizards hoped for when they selected him at number three overall in the draft. Shooters like Martell Webster have noticed an increase in open looks and shooting percentages, and a healthy Nene has been a revelation for Emeka Okafor’s play.

Because the Wizards started the season so poorly, playoffs seem to be out of the question. But, this team has proven they can compete with the elite on any given night.

Ask The Experts: 2012 NBA Draft

The NBA Draft went down on Thursday and after a couple of days to digest what went down, the staff of writers at HOOPSADDICT.com weighed in on who the steal of the draft was, the biggest surprise and they made their picks for Rookie of the Year.

Will Guillory:

Steal of the draft: I have to go with Perry Jones going 28th to Oklahoma City. In January, we looked at Jones as the best player on a top-5 team in the nation and now you mean to tell me teams would rather have guys named John Jenkins, Arnett Moultrie and Miles Plumlee over him? Jones did seem to have major attitude problems and a whole lot of “I Don’t Care” going on in his game last season, but Jenkins, Moultrie and Plumlee will never be as talented as he is. And if playing with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.

Biggest Surprise: For me, it has to be Thomas Robinson dropping all the way to no. 5 in the draft. At the end of last year’s college season, I thought the two best players in the country were Robinson and Anthony Davis, and Robinson looked more like the guy that was ready to play immediately in the NBA. He’s strong, he rebounds, he can score and he is fearless. You can probably only describe a hand-full of big men in the league right now that can fit that description. Him and Demarcus Cousins in the paint fighting together for rebounds? Kinda scary.

’12-13 Rookie of the Year: No surprise here, I think we all know the obvious choice is no. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis. He is, without a doubt, the best guy coming out in this year’s draft. He will be the face of his franchise immediately and get plenty of opportunities to get numbers. His team will probably be much better than people anticipate and may even squeeze their way into a playoff birth. Last, but not least, the pressure of carrying his team won’t be solely on his shoulders from a night-to-night basis. With Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers on the roster, the Hornets won’t ask Davis to come out from day one and be the top scorer on the team, which isn’t really who he is. The Hornets will only ask him to be Anthony Davis–nothing more and nothing less–and if he does that he will probably be Rookie of the Year.

Matthew Cote:

Biggest Steal: Jared Sullinger going 21st overall to Boston. He has the potential to be a perennial all-star and an elite player with many offensive and defensive skills to boot. Could have gone top 15 in my opinion.

Biggest Surprise: Austin Rivers going to the Hornets at pick 10. Rivers is an incredible talent who just didn’t excel as much as hoped at Duke. In the Hornets system, he and Anthony Davis should bring some spark back to New Orleans basketball.

2012-13 Rookie of the Year: Kris Joseph of the Boston Celtics. Stay with me on this one, Joseph is one of those guys who can pick up an offense right away. He’s highly athletic and can be lethal with his jump shot. His passing could use work but this is a guy who can make an impact right away. Honorable mention goes to Anthony Davis and Harrison Barnes.

Chuck Nunn:

It’s hard for me to pick just one “steal of the draft” this year. I think the Bobcats made a great move with Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, because he fills a real need for their team after losing Corey Maggette, and Gerald Wallace before him. I also like how the Trail Blazers made out, getting not only an outstanding guard in Weber State’s Damian Lillard, but also landing one of this draft’s best centers — if not THE best — in Illinois’ Meyers Leonard. As to biggest surprise, I’d have to go back to Charlotte’s selection of Kidd-Gilchrist. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. I was also a bit surprised to see Duke forward Miles Plumlee make it into the first round, as a lot of mock drafts had him going in the upper second round. It’s hard not to go with Anthony Davis as Rookie of the Year next season, but I’d keep an eye out once again on Kidd-Gilchrist, and Damian Lillard gets my Beehive State bias pick as ROY dark horse.

Tom Westerholm:

Biggest steal: I realize everyone will say PJ3, so while that is my actual answer, I’ll say Thomas Robinson for the Kings. I realize he didn’t fall out of the top 5, but Sacramento, who openly shopped their pick in the weeks preceding the draft, got exactly the piece they were hoping for in Robinson, a talented power forward who grabs a lot of rebounds. That, to me, qualifies as a steal.

Biggest surprise: Terrence Ross to the Raptors at #8. Ross is a good shooter and could develop into a nice player, but with other, more highly thought of wings still available (Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb), his meteoric rise into the mid-lottery was…surprising to say the least.

Rookie of the Year: Instead of picking Anthony Davis like all you geeks, I’m going with Bradley Beal. I think Davis will take a year or two to adjust to the NBA offensively, while Beal will be ready to contribute immediately, especially on a team that desperately needs his shooting.

Ryan McNeill

Biggest steal: I’ve got to go with Jared Sullinger. He can slip into Boston’s starting five right away at power forward and makes Brandon Bass expendable as a free agent.

Biggest surprise: Cleveland going with Dion Waters at four. Sure, they needed a guard who could shoot and handle the ball, but why not slide down a spot or two? Also, they had talks about moving up to number two, why not burn both first round picks to accomplish this?

Rookie of the Year: As much as it pains me to admit this being based out of Toronto, I think Harrison Barnes is poised for a monster season for Golden State.

Bryan Jansen:

Who was Steal of the Draft: Perry Jones III — seems like an obvious choice–but definitely not a safe choice. I had projected the Bucks to take PJIII at 12 (before the trade), was still comfortable picking him at 14 even with injury potential. Huge value at 28.Who was a reach: Terrence Ross. Seems very likely he was available much later in draft–even if traded for only cash and later pick.

Bust Potential: Damian Lillard. Seems like I’m in the minority here, but something about this talent scares me. Call it Big Sky bias. Another player for this list is Dion Waiters. Illinois players scare me. I feel the same way about Meyers Leonard–but I also felt the same way about Deron Williams (another lottery pick from Illinois that I didn’t like–but I was obviously wrong about that one).What was Biggest Surprise: Charlotte Bobcats not trading #2 pick–feel they could have picked up major immediate contributing assets instead of a supremely athletic individual piece that will take time to develop. I love MKG, but would prefer 2-3 veteran pieces. Honorable Mention: meteoric slide of PJIII and Jared Sullinger.

Rookie of the Year: Thomas Robinson. Perma-Chip on his shoulder, toughest guy ever who seemed tougher for weeping publicly–hard not to vote for Anthony Davis, but my gut says Robinson averages a double/double for Kings and edges Davis.

Zach Salzmann:

Given the depth of this year’s draft, there was always going to be some uber-talented draftees falling late in the first round. Sam Presti is nodding his head in agreement. The Oklahoma City Thunder got the steal of the draft, selecting Perry Jones III with the 28th pick. He should mesh perfectly with their up-tempo style of basketball, and would’ve gone much higher if it weren’t for some injury concerns.

As for the biggest surprise of the night, although Cleveland and Indiana did their best to win the award for most head-scratching selection (Waiters and Plumlee), Toronto trumped them both by selecting Terence Ross with the 8th pick. It’s way too early to call anyone a bust, but when the whole world thinks he went too high, he probably did. Rivers or Lamb would’ve been better options for a Raptors team that desperately needs some star power.

And as for my Rookie of the Year prediction: the best player in this year’s draft, Mr. Anthony Davis. Fear the Brow!

Robert Kester:

North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes going No. 7 to the Golden State Warriors was my steal of the 2012 NBA Draft. Barnes was considered to be a top four talent in this draft class, but the Warriors didn’t have to give up any assets to obtain him and now have a productive small forward that can possibly start next season.

My surprise of the draft was Kansas forward, Thomas Robinson, falling down to the Sacramento Kings at No. 5. Robinson has an NBA body and showed the ability to score and rebound at a high level in college. Many believed that he would be selected by the Charlotte Bobcats at No. 2 or that a team would trade up to get him, but neither happened.

I’ve got the ’12-’13 Rookie of the Year going to Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. Davis is a freak athletically and a ferocious shot blocker. He can score around the rim with ease (shot 62% as a freshman) and defend the perimeter with his length. Fundamentally, Davis has the skills to do it all. He will put up good numbers and help the New Orleans Hornets win games as a rookie.

Caardel Eaddy:

The steal of the draft was Jared Sullinger. Going 21st overall to the Boston Celtics was possibly the best destination for him. To learn from Kevin Garnett everyday, Sullinger will likely turn into a very solid pro player.

The biggest surprise was Perry Jones III falling to the 28th to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jones had concerns about his knee, but still to see countless teams pass on a solid player is just astonishing.

The Rookie of the Year will clearly be Anthony Davis. He is ready for this league and this season will prove that he is an up and coming superstar.

Chris Deacon:

Considering the Golden State Warriors needed a forward, getting Harrison Barnes as the seventh overall pick was the steal of the draft. With scouts across the board marking him out as one of the top five choices available it was hard to imagine the Warriors would actually manage to get him on their own terms. But they grabbed the North Carolina prospect and will hopefully turn him into an exciting player.

The surprise of the draft had to be Dion Waiters going to Cleveland early on, number four overall. The Cavs have clearly seen something they like about the young guard but I’m not sure many other teams would have gambled on someone whose jump shot is so inconsistent. Waiters is a good athlete but you feel that Cleveland could have made a much stronger choice with such an early pick.

It’s hard to look past the giant stature of new Sacramento King Thomas Robinson for Rookie of the Year. At 6’9″ and with the athletic ability of Blake Griffin, he averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds at Kansas. If he turns his NCAA form into NBA points then he’ll definitely go far this season.

Hiren Joshi:

Who was steal of the draft: Jared Sullinger. Though he was red flagged, Sullinger was a nice pick at 21 for the Celtics. I can understand lottery teams passing up on him, but a veteran team like the Celtics will mold Sullinger into a nice player in the paint.

What was the biggest surprise: Perry Jones III slipping all the way down to 28. That could be a steal for a team that just competed in the NBA finals! As if the Thunder didn’t already have a talented squad, Jones will have the luxury of learning in this league, instead of contributing immediately.

2012-13 Rookie of the year: Anthony Davis has all the intangibles to win Rookie of the year. Great hands, smart player, and has a strong opportunity at lifting a depleted CP3-less Hornets, along with Austin Rivers. Not a bad revival for the embattled franchise.

Michael Collins:

Who was steal of the draft – To me it would have to be Thomas Robinson going 5th to Sacramento. I was surprised to see Charlotte pass on him, but they had a good pick in Kidd-Gilchrist My jaw nearly hit the floor when I heard Washington and Cleveland passed on him. With Robinson and Cousins down low, not many rebounds will be given up by the Kings.

What was the biggest surprise – The Celtics taking a chance on Jared Sullinger, despite all the red flags about his back. Could end up being a huge steal for Boston, or we could be looking at another Greg Oden.

2012-13 Rookie of the year – I’m going to go back to Thomas Robinson. I think he was one of the top two players in this draft, and he’s walking into a perfect situation in Sacramento. He should be able to hit the ground running and make a huge difference for the Kings.

Justin Wells:

Steal of the ’12 Draft : John Jenkins, the guard from Vandy was picked 23rd by the Atlanta Hawks. Jenkins clearly the best shooter in the draft will instantly provide a 6th man type spark off the bench for the Hawks. *Honorable Mention – Tyshawn Taylor, 41st to Nets. Instantly backup PG.

Biggest surprise: Perry Jones III slid all the way to 28th and into Oklahoma City’s lap. Being w/ Baylor and the Big12 for two years I’m fully aware of PJ3’s ups & downs. But there weren’t 27 players better than him picked draft night. If and when he matures, the kid has endless untapped potential. The rich may have gotten richer in the ThunderDome. *Honorable Mention – Dion Waiters, 4th to Cavaliers. This kid didn’t even start on his own college team. Think smaller Marvin Williams.

2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year: Thomas Robinson, Sacramento. He will start Day 1, and lead NBA rookies in Double-doubles. *Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis, 1st to Hornets. AD is the easy choice given his situation/role in New Orleans.