Wizards

Quick Links

Film study: How Bradley Beal set a career-high with 42 points

Film study: How Bradley Beal set a career-high with 42 points

Bradley Beal had his career-high of 42 points against the Phoenix Suns, with 26 of those points coming in the second half: It's the way he did it that made his performance so special. He made five three-pointers, nine two-pointers and nine free throws.

He even put forth a better effort on defense compared to how he played vs. the Miami Heat on that end. Yesterday, film study was all about John Wall's defense. Today is about how Beal created his offense and the role his teammates, namely the screening of Marcin Gortat, had in helping him. And Beal didn't have a turnover in 40 minutes of play.

Sure, Phoenix isn't considered a good team defensively, but the Miami Heat are exactly that. They have a defense-first coach in Erik Spoelstra and Beal dropped 34 on them in a loss the previous game. Beal took 26 shots, shot 46%, including four threes, and was 6-for-6 from the line. Perhaps the best defensive center in the game, Hassan Whiteside, was in the middle for Miami so that argument doesn't hold water.

Beal was special vs. Phoenix. A snapshot of what he did well with most of the focus on the fourth:

Second quarter

-- 3:57-3:52: The high screen and roll by Marcin Gortat frees Beal from Brandon Knight, and Alex Len sinks way too deep into the paint. Talk about a practice shot, this one is it. That’s too much cushion for a shooter but Beal has been so good attacking off the dribble he'd have his way with Len if he gets too close.

Third quarter

-- 5:02-4:55: Defended by Devin Booker, Beal gets three screens, a pindown from Kelly Oubre, a cross screen from Tomas Satoransky (then he pops to the arc to make himself available for the pass/shot) and another from Gortat whlile Wall dribbles up top. Beal loops around Gortat's screen. Knight and Booker, however, botch the coverage. Knight, who seems intially confused on if thery were supposed to switch, should’ve trailed which would've given the Suns support on the baseline to seal off the penetration. Len comes over as does Knight to run off Beal from the same angle. This allows Beal to attack in a straight line off the dribble and he draws the foul on Booker for two free throws.

-- 2:55-2:50: Satoransky inbounds the ball to Beal, who curls around a screen from Gortat. Booker gets caught on Beal's left hip, unable to use the baseline as a second defender, and Beal correctly diagnoses that he has a straight line to the basket if he is decisive. He gets by Booker and to the spot at the rim before Len can help in time. Beal uses the rim as protection and gets the soft reverse lay-up.

Fourth quarter

-- 11:38-11:24: Defending Booker, Beal recovers after slamming into a screen from P.J. Tucker and contests at the point of release to force the miss. He doesn’t let Booker off the hook attacking him on the other end to draw the foul with body contact. Beal lulled the Suns to sleep before going into high gear. He gets his shoulders past Booker and there’s no help under the rim to stop him (Tucker is focused on Gortat trailing the play). This is a good IQ play.

-- 8:47-8:39: Beal embarrasses the screen-roll coverage here, taking a screen from Jason Smith and splitting the help of Alan Williams down the middle for a clear path to the hoop. Williams probably needed to make a contact show to slow down Beal but they never force him to break stride. Easy bucket.

[RELATED: Elite backcourt of Wall and Beal emerges for Wizards]

-- 7:41-7:28: Beal is defended by Leandro Barbosa, reversing around Gortat’s screen then he stops his roll to recereen – the proper read because Williams was so far back to defend the roll. Look where Williams is again as Barbosa gets creamed by Gortat. He’s at least two feet back the way Len played soft coverage. It's a long two but what does it matter because that's a virtual layup for Beal.

-- 5:20-5:11: Wall entry to Markieff Morris who is being defended by Eric Bledsoe underneath on a switch off their screen-roll. Booker sinks in, Beal corner difts. Wide-open 3. Booker could've tried harder to contest.

-- 3:24-3:15: This is all Beal. He screens from Wall, runs off, reverses, gets screen for Gortat as Booker trails. His hesitation dribble sheds Bledsoe, freezes Len and he explodes past his help in middle for the layup.

This was a little bit of everything from Beal. He took what the defense gave him at times and at others he forced them into mistakes by constantly putting the pressure on them. Moving without the ball is key, especially with Wall on the floor because he'll command so much attention as the primary ballhandler. And as described here, more screen action by Beal will assist him in getting better looks and to the foul line because it can create even more mismatches on switches. 

This Beal is an All-Star. But can he maintain that with 69 games left in the season? That'll always be the question until he does it.

[RELATED: Film study: John Wall's defense]

Quick Links

Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. hope to show improvement when NBA returns

Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. hope to show improvement when NBA returns

The NBA's break in between games due to the coronavirus is long enough to equal a full NBA offseason. If any of the general rules of NBA offseasons apply, that means some players could come back looking noticeably different.

Since young players are usually the ones who improve the most over the summer, Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr. are two players to watch. They are the Wizards' two most recent first round picks and both spent the break working with the resources they had, hoping to make another leap.

Hachimura, whom the Wizards took ninth overall in 2019, spent much of the time off in Los Angeles. He mostly trained at home with access to weights and a schedule lined with Zoom workouts hosted by Wizards coaches and members of the team's training staff.

Hachimura didn't have full-time access to a hoop, but did get some shots up here and there. Since returning to Washington once the Wizards' practice facility reopened in June, Hachimura has been working closely with assistant coach Corey Gaines.

The emphasis has been his outside shot, ball-handling and court vision.

"I feel like I have more confidence in my threes," Hachimura said. "I feel like that's come from how much I'm working out. The coaches have done a good job with me, the technique and stuff. I think it's more the confidence and I think it's getting better."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WIZARDS TALK PODCAST

The Wizards have been trying to add arc to Hachimura's shot ever since they drafted him out of Gonzaga. He has a solid midrange shot, but the percentages go down the further out he goes and the flat trajectory doesn't help.

Hachimura is shooting just 27.4 percent from three as a rookie this season. The team hopes he can step into a larger offensive role with Davis Bertans having opted out of the league's restart. If his three-point shot is indeed improved, Hachimura could make a big difference.

"I'm so excited for this opportunity," Hachimura said. "I think we have a chance to make the playoffs."

Much of Brown's focus during the break has been on the defensive end. He wants to be a more reliable and versatile defender for the defensively-challenged Wizards.

The problem there is that with social distancing in Wizards' workouts, he can't really practice defending other NBA players. So, it has required some creativity.

RELATED: BRADLEY BEAL UNDECIDED ON NBA RESTART

"I've done lateral slides with resistance bands on. More so making your body used to those quick movements and getting those twitch muscles used to sliding fast and making quick reaction times," he said.

Brown said he adjusted his diet during quarantine and dropped his body fight down to six percent, the lowest he's been since he was drafted 15th overall by the Wizards in 2018. He also feels like the time away helped him clear his head.

"For me personally, I feel like it's been a good break to take some time off mentally and regroup. I've been able to work on my body and work on stuff I normally wouldn't be able to work on," he said.

The Wizards have a lot of young players who had the chance to improve dramatically in the past few months. But their two recent first round picks certainly stand out as ones to monitor given how important they are to the team's future. In just a few weeks, we should get a sense of whether they were actually able to improve or not.

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Ish Smith on death of 11-year-old Davon McNeal, gun violence in United States

Ish Smith on death of 11-year-old Davon McNeal, gun violence in United States

During a video conference call with reporters on Monday, Wizards point guard Ish Smith was asked about gun violence in the United States, specifically in light of the recent murder of 11-year-old Davon McNeal in Southeast Washington. Smith had heard of his passing and it hit quite close to home.

"His life is cut short at 11 years. I got a nephew right now who is 11 years old. He's 11 and I know the dreams and aspirations he wants and where he wants to get to," Smith said. 

McNeal was killed by a stray bullet on Saturday while attending a non-violence cookout organized by his mother. He was in the sixth grade at Kramer Middle School in Southeast.

McNeal's death is all too familiar for Smith, who has seen far to many cases just like this one.

"What could little man have done to avoid that? Like, we gotta do better," Smith said. "To see a child taken so young; I mean, my man won't even be able to see his 18th birthday, prom, graduation. There's just so much stuff... It shouldn't be at the hand of somebody else where they can't get to where they wanna get to because of a stray bullet or a shooting; whatever the case is. My heart hurts."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WIZARDS TALK PODCAST

Smith, who is deeply religious, said he is "constantly praying" for the violence to stop. He tries to do his part by speaking with troubled youth in North Carolina in the offseason.

He hopes more awareness can be raised for tragedies like McNeal's.

"[Kids] have to see a better example so they know what to do and what not to do so they can see a brighter future," Smith said.

There are no suspects in McNeal's murder at this time. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is asking for the public's help with any leads.

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: