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Beal reflects on disappointing NBA debut

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Beal reflects on disappointing NBA debut

Bradley Beal’s NBA debut Tuesday night started like a dream sequence.

Open 3-pointer … drained.

Another 3-pointer … nothing but net.

[Cue in the Chariots of Fire music.]

“I made my first two threes and then I just faded away after that,” Beal said Wednesday at Verizon Center, where the Wizards sat through a video session breaking down Tuesday night’s season-opening 94-84 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.

“I wasn’t aggressive. I should have stayed in attack mode and kept going.”

Instead, Beal missed his final seven field goal attempts and finished his NBA debut with eight points, three assists, one steal and two turnovers in 21:33 of action.

“He’s going to have some ups and downs,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the 19-year-old guard from Florida. “One thing he can’t do is let making and missing shots affect his overall play of defensively getting into guys, running the floor, being aggressive off the dribble.

“He can make plays. But the last couple games – the San Antonio game in our last exhibition games wasn’t a very good game -- I think the makes and misses of shots affected his play in that game as well as last night.”

Beal finished the preseason ranked third on the team in scoring with 11.3 points a game, but he put up goose eggs against the Spurs, shooting 0-for-6 from the field for zero points.

In Tuesday night’s debut Beal said he was more upset with his play on the defensive side, where he was outplayed by Cavs rookie Dion Waiters, who was taken one pick after Beal at fourth overall in the 2012 NBA draft. Waiters finished with 17 points.
 
“I think my defense affected my offense,” Beal said. “I was so upset with myself [for missing shots] I was doing the wrong assignments on defense. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be and I think that led to my [struggles] at the offensive end.”

Beal says he’s accustomed to high expectations, but with John Wall expected to miss the first month of the season with a stress injury to his knee, Beal will be asked to carry much of the load from the Wizards’ backcourt – a difficult assignment for a 19-year-old rookie.

“It’s pretty tough,” he said. “From the outside looking in people always look at you to be a hero, but to me and my teammates, that’s not me. There’s me and 14 or 15 other guys on this team.

“It’s a group effort. I can’t just go out there and score 60 points and we win. It’s a collective effort and as long as we stick to the game plan we’ll be fine. But I don’t put any added pressure on myself. I just do what coach wants me to do and go from there.”

Wittman says he’s confident Beal will be a different player when the Boston Celtics visit Verizon Center Saturday night. His teammates agree.

“He’s got to get back to being the guy with the bounce in his step,” Wittman said. “That’s part of being a rookie and learning how to not fall into those lapses.”

Said Wizards center Earl Barron: “You’d never think he’s a rookie the way he plays. He’s a very talented kid. He listens, he’s very humble, he works hard. He’s got nerves of steel. He may be nervous, but you’ll never know it.”  

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Jodie Meeks' season...

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $3.3 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.5 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 86.3 FT%, 49.1 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 11/29 at Sixers - 21 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5-for-11 FG, 3-for-6 3PT, 8-for-9 FT

Season review: The Wizards took a flier on Jodie Meeks last summer in what seemed at the time to be a low-risk contract with a potentially high reward, if he could stay healthy and play to his career norms. They were in obvious need of help at backup shooting guard and three-point shooting for their bench.

Meeks fell short of those expectations for a variety of reasons. Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he could not make shots at the clip the Wizards were hoping for. His field goal percentage was not far off from what he posted in recent years, but his three-point percentage was nowhere near the 38.8 percent he shot in his previous four seasons.

Meeks bottomed out midseason, shooting 28.9 percent from three in December and 28 percent in January. Those numbers ticked up beginning in February, but Meeks never fully gained the trust of his coaching staff. He rarely got hot enough to alter games and his best stat-lines often came in blowouts. 

There was a domino effect from Meeks' struggles, as starting shooting guard Bradley Beal had no one to spell him. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player this season.

For Meeks personally, it was a bittersweet year because staying healthy was no small feat. He had a run of bad luck and finally broke out of it this season. On the other hand, he never made the impact he felt he was capable of and that wasn't easy for a guy joining a new team and a new locker room.

Meeks' 2017-18 season was ultimately defined by more than his shooting woes. First, he expressed interest in a trade in February and did not get his wish. Then, he was suspended for allegedy using performance-enhancing drugs after the regular season ended. He was out for the playoffs and will miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season without pay as he waits out a 25-game ban.

Meeks may or may not serve that suspension as a member of the Wizards. He has a player option for next season worth $3.5 million. He has yet to inform the team of his decision, but the expectation is that he will pick it up. Given how poorly his season went and ended, it would likely be the smart move financially for him to opt in and hope for better results next season.

Potential to improve: Shooting percentage, perimeter defense, passing

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

Tim Frazier, PG

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

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