Having lost three straight games and five of six, the Washington Wizards (20-24) need a boost and fast. That's especially true with three straight games on deck against the Rockets, Thunder and Warriors. Bradley Beal, recently back from his latest leg stress injury plus a broken nose, is helping with his shot. In six games since Jan 13, he's sinking 45 percent of his 3-pointers and half his attempts from any angle.
Beal also remains on a minutes limit. Because the leg injuries have become recurring and the fourth-year wing guard is an important part of Washington's future, all know the importance of finding a fix.
Then there is the important money factor, as in Beal enters restricted free agency this summer. Along with teammate John Wall, Beal is among a select group of players on USA Basketball's working roster ahead of the 2016 Olympics. Two years in a row, he's elevated his game in the postseason. Beal's shooting form is textbook. He won't turn 23 until June. Those are among the positives. The injury concerns, however, may have some around the league concerned about making a long-term investment.
“He’s one of the best pure shooters in the league,” a general manager told Yahoo's Chris Mannix, “but I’m scared of him.”
With 38 regular season games remaining, their is time to alleviate some of those fears. Beal's agent, Mark Bartelstein, spoke with Mannix about the process.
“It’s been frustrating for Brad because he’s a great competitor and he wants to be there for his teammates, his coaches,” Bartelstein said. “The good news is that we have got this thing figured out.
As for specifics, Bartelstein shared the following, as reported by Mannix:
[Beal] has increased the padding in his sneakers. He has added more vitamin D to his diet. He took a more gradual approach to returning from his most recent injury in December, easing back into things rather than immediately ramping up when he felt healthy. Some shooters don’t elevate much on 3-point shots; Beal does, increasing the impact, a factor that is compounded by the hundreds of jumpers Beal puts up in practice. To that end, Beal has adopted a more regimented program designed to minimize impact as much as possible.
One of the challenges for Beal and the Wizards are his minutes. The leg injuries have typically cropped up when Beal starts playing over 35 minutes on a regular basis. With Washington fighting for a playoff spot, the Wizards will want their best players on the court as much as possible. Yet overdo it and the perimeter threat might not be available at all. That's what can drive fear for those thinking long-term. His All-Star worthy game is what makes Beal so enticing and why the Wizards need him at max capacity as soon as the doctors give the thumbs up.