Bradley Beal has come a long way since his days at the University of Florida, when he was a skinny freshman leading the Gators to an Elite Eight back in 2012. Through his five years in the NBA with the Wizards, he has blossomed into one of the best shooting guards in basketball, a guy who is no longer limited to outside shooting. He can put the ball on the floor, create his own shot and even set up teammates like never before.
Beal, 23, is currently posting career numbers at 22.3 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting. His development has been important for the Wizards' success, and also a source of pride for his former college coach. Billy Donovan, now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, was in Washington Monday morning with his team set to take on the Wizards later that night.
"Healthy, for one," Donovan said when asked why Beal is having a breakout season. "Two, I think just coaching him, he's really smart. He has what I would call the 'it factor,' he's got it. He impacts winning at a really high level. There's also part of him that he's very, very unselfish. He's a team guy. So, I think that when he was hurt, I could see him struggling coming back into a team because he's never a guy that wants to disrupt flow, chemistry and cohesiveness; those kinds of things. He's a connecting guy. I think because he's been healthy all year, he knows his role and his responsibility. Through experience, his work ethic and his intelligence, he's become a very good player."
Beal has been healthy for the most part this season, having appeared in 49 of the Wizards' 53 games. There are many reasons for that, he says.
"I'm probably lifting more throughout the season," Beal explained. "I think in previous years I kind of got away from it. Just keeping my body stronger. I'm eating the right foods. I don't eat junk food as much as I used to anymore. I used to always say I had a high metabolism, but I'm getting older so my weight is starting to fluctuate a little bit. So, I've gotta watch that. It's always important for me especially, I have to watch what I put in my body."
Beal said part of that new diet includes drinking a lot of milk. He also cut out candy, his biggest vice.
"I'm a big sweets guy. I love Skittles, I love Reese's and chocolate," he said. "It's a mental challenge and it's a discipline thing. If I want to be healthy, I've gotta cut stuff out."
With the All-Star break coming up on Feb. 17, Beal will have some time to rest and take his mind off the game. That, though, doesn't mean he will be going back to the candy.
"It's a trap, for sure. I'm going to stay away," he said. "I probably couldn't tell you the last time I had one of the two. It's been a little while."
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