A look at Bradley Beal's stats -- 19 points on 9 of 13 shooting in 21 minutes in the exhibition opener -- suggests he didn't have a problem fitting in with the Wizards' high-octane offense.
But he had his moments, from getting thumped in the groin to avoiding long two-point attempts. Wearing a protective cup is an easy adjustment, but programming himself to not pull the trigger as often from long-two range will be a major hurdle for Beal.
“It definitely is (difficult) because sometimes I’m in that area and I’m open in the area. But as much as possible I’m trying to avoid it," Beal said. "There’s a time I can remember I had a wide-open shot and I ended up traveling, I think, at the free throw line. I could’ve taken a shot or could’ve just put it on the floor and got to the basket. It’s still just me learning the offense and learning my spots and the spacing on the floor, too.”
That's what coach Randy Wittman prefers. If Beal catches it inside the three-point arc, he doesn't necessarily want him to step back for a three-point shot. He wants Beal to put the ball on the floor to attack the rim. The shooting guard averaged less than three foul shot attempts per game last season, which is among the lowest in the league for a starter at his position. When Beal is in catch-and-shoot situations, Wittman wants him to be aware of his spot on the floor so he can be sure to behind the arc. Even if Beal doesn't take the shot, that extra foot or two can be crucial in making the defense extend to open more driving lanes for the likes of John Wall.
“I liked it. I loved how we came out. I think we actually did a lot better than I expected out of a first game anyway," Beal, who didn't speak after a 129-95 victory vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, said of their quick-hit style after Wednesday's practice. "I think defensively we kind of slacked off a little bit in the first half. We had a lot turnovers, too, a lot of unforced ones in the first half. We could’ve had a lot more points off of those but overall we did a great job. We moved the ball, shot the ball well, then our defense in the second half was a lot better, too.”
When the second unit came in, Wittman used a three-guard lineup of Ramon Sessions, Gary Neal and Garrett Temple. That's when the offense really took off, in part because of the defensive tenacity with Nene on the floor playing at center.
"All of our guards are interchangeable. We have to know each other’s spots anyway. It’s just a matter of being out there and doing your job at the end of the day," Beal said. "Coach puts together the lineups and we have to be able to go out there and execute. I think we do a great job. Two guards, three guards, four guards, however many out there I think we can get it done.
“This offense, you have to be versatile. Everybody has to be able to put the ball on the floor. Everybody has to be able to shoot and everybody has to be willing to know their role and embrace it all. And I think everybody does a good job of that. Sometimes I may have to be a decoy. It’s not always a matter of me scoring the ball. It’s just creating plays for everybody.”