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

Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

USA Today Sports

Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

After months of serving a variety of roles for the organization, Kristi Toliver now has an official title with the Washington Wizards. The Mystics star has joined Scott Brooks' staff as an assistant coach and assistant for player development.

Toliver, 31, will remain a member of the Mystics, who play their season during the summer. The lack of overlap will allow her to focus much of her time on the Wizards and what she hopes becomes a long and successful coaching career.

She chose joining the Wizards over continuing to play professionally this year overseas, an option many WNBA players use in the offseason. But she has a coaching dream and happens to have caught on with the hometown team.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime. When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could," Toliver said.

Toliver is the first active WNBA player to serve on an NBA bench and just the second woman after Becky Hammon, who is an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Toliver plans to reach out to Hammon after getting her phone number from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

Toliver is honored to be in the same category with Hammon, whom she looked up to first as a player and now as a coach who has become a trailblazer in the profession.

"I know she's going to be somebody that I can ask questions to," Toliver said. "I will pick her brain about how she played and I will pick her brain about how she is coaching."

Hammon joined the Spurs' coaching staff in 2014 after years of helping the team out in other ways. Now that there are two female NBA assistants, the logical question is when one will become a head coach.

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal can already attest to Toliver's impact and said there could be a female head coach "very soon."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happened sooner rather than later," Beal said. "If you know the game, you know the game. Plain and simple."

Toliver has served as a coach in the Wizards' 5-on-5 scrimmages at practice. She has also been particularly helpful with ball-handling, which makes sense given she's the starting point guard for the Mystics. Toliver has helped a variety of Wizards players in dribbling drills including the big men like Jeff Green and Dwight Howard.

Coaching has required an adjustment for Toliver, who is used to having the ball in her hands running the offense. But just as being a player can help her as a coach, she expects to become a better player now seeing the game from a new perspective.

"I'd much rather be playing, I know that. But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view," she said.

Brooks has been effusive in his praise of Toliver ever since she began helping out in the Las Vegas Summer League in July. He invited her to join the staff over the phone shortly before the Summer League began and will admit he did not know at the time the relationship would get this far.

But over the summer, Brooks lost two assistants to other teams in Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe, paving the way for some movement on his staff. He promoted several positions from within and an opening was created for Toliver to come on board.

"She's a special talent. She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick," Brooks said.


Quick Links

Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season


Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

It's certainly not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into coaching following their playing days. We have seen more and more of this in recent years throughout sports, especially with younger coaches getting the chance to lead teams. 

What is uncommon is when a professional athlete begins their quest for life after playing while they're still playing. 

Washington Mystics veteran guard Kristi Toliver is joining the Wizards' coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday. 

The news comes after the 10-year WNBA pro got her feet wet on the Wizards' bench during Vegas Summer League play in July. 

Along with Elena Delle Donne, Toliver helped lead the Mystics to the 2018 WNBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Seattle Storm. 

The 31-year-old was drafted third overall by Chicago in 2009 after leading her Maryland Terrapins to a national championship in 2006. 

Toliver will serve as an assistant coach and focus on player development for head coach Scott Brooks. 

Coach Brooks also welcomes Robert Pack and Ryan Richman to the front of the bench. Pack served as assistant coach under Brooks for two seasons during their Oklahoma City Thunder days while Richman led the team during summer leage play and is entering his fifth year in Washington. 

The Wizards open their 2018-19 regular season Thursday against the Miami Heat inside Capital One Arena. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.