It's never too early to speculate on who is All-Star worthy and who isn't, but despite the Wizards' record John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing at a level that makes both worthy of being in the conversation.
The duo combined for 50 points in Friday's 122-108 rout of the Detroit Pistons. Beal has been a solid defender all season while Wall, who started out shaky, has improved in the last few weeks since losing weight coming off two knee surgeries.
The Wizards (11-14) have won four of five games and have appeared to steady themselves after a 3-9 start to the season when they bled points.
But Wall and Beal, the latter of whom signed $128 million max contract this past summer, have delivered and with All-Star voting about to kick into full gear both have a chance to make it together for the first time. Wall is a three-time All-Star in his seventh season. Beal hasn't made it in his fifth season.
"Just being aggressive," said Beal, who scored 14 of his 21 points in the second quarter when the Wizards had 38 points to take a double-digit halftime lead. "That's just been my mind-set the whole year. Just continue to grow and get better each game."
Beal set his career-high with 42 points in a win over the Phoenix Suns. He set his career-high for assists with nine in a win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Wall set a career-high with 52 points in a loss to the Orlando Magic. He had his 14th double-double against Detroit.
Their averages are career-highs (Wall 24.5 points, Beal 21.8) and if they can get the Wizards over .500 before the calendar year is over, Wall and Beal are strong candidates to be added as reserves by the league's coaches if they're not voted in as starters by fan voting.
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After all, coaches know how important it is to limit both to have a chance to beat the Wizards. Wall and Beal face double-teams and blitz coverages all of the time to take the ball out of their hands. If they make the right decisions, it leads to high-percentage looks as they can make other players around them better. And of course, the players around them off the bench have been less than spectacular which is why they've logged heavier-than-expected minutes.
Now, those players are better and the results have been more positive. The play of Wall and Beal hasn't waned. They've only gotten better.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy lamented his team's inability to do anything with them. They held teams to the second-fewest points per game entering Friday at 95.7. The Wizards scored 27 above that. They were at 95 after just three quarters.
"We couldn't handle their guards at all," said Van Gundy, who has a pretty good defensive stopper in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard. "I mean, just John Wall was great. Beal was great. We couldn't handle them at all. They were getting wherever they wanted on the floor and then making plays. The other guys shot the ball well, too, but those two guys just destroyed us."
Impress a few more coaches like this and their chances of going to New Orleans for the Feb. 17-19 showcase increase.
The path for Beal is less complex. The competition at his position isn't as deep (Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan) compared to Wall at point guard (Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker).