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Bradley Beal and the All-NBA team: how one decision impacts the Wizards' future

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Bradley Beal and the All-NBA team: how one decision impacts the Wizards' future

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 1: WILL BRADLEY BEAL QUALIFY FOR A SUPERMAX CONTRACT?

There are a handful of events this summer that could alter the course of the Wizards' franchise significantly moving forward. They will have a new general manager and possibly one from outside of the organization, someone who could prescribe wholesale changes. They have the sixth-best lottery odds and could luck into a top spot to net a future star.

But aside from winning the lottery on May 14 and landing Zion Williamson in June, nothing will have a more profound effect on the Wizards' future than the All-NBA announcement in late May. The league has not revealed a date yet, but it was May 24 last year, May 18 the year before and May 26 the year before that. Basically, by late May we will know if Bradley Beal made it for the first time in his career.

Beal has a chance for third team All-NBA and could get it if he earns more votes than guys like Kemba Walker of the Hornets, Ben Simmons of the Sixers, Devin Booker of the Suns and Klay Thompson of the Warriors. There are six spots and five essential locks: Stephen Curry of the Warriors, James Harden of the Rockets, Russell Westbrook of the Thunder, Damian Lillard of the Blazers and Kyrie Irving of the Celtics.

Some media ballots have already been released that show mixed results for Beal. Mike Singer of the Denver Post voted for Beal, while Paul Flannery of SB Nation did not

If Beal gets All-NBA honors, he will be eligible for a supermax contract. It wouldn't begin until the 2021-22 season, but it is projected to be worth $194 million over four years. His deal would start at over $40 million annually.

The Wizards already have John Wall signed to a supermax deal, which kicks in next season. He will be making $43.9 million in 2021-22. He and Beal would account for roughly three-quarters of the salary cap that season.

The Wizards could, in theory, sign Beal to a supermax and just deal with it later. They would have two full seasons before the contract begins. By then, Wall should be healthy and have at least a full year of games under his belt and maybe more if he returns next season.

But delaying the inevitable is not a sound strategy. If extending Beal backfires either as a singular move or in conjunction with Wall's deal, it could strap the franchise for many years to come. 

All of this makes a supermax offer in the event Beal becomes eligible potentially a decision so massive it could be the most important call the next GM makes in their entire tenure in Washington. And that GM may have to make that decision within months of taking the job.

There are many reasons why this situation is not simple. If Beal qualifies for the supermax, there is not a 100 percent guarantee the Wizards offer him one, given their future financial state. And even if they offer one, there is no certainty that Beal will take it. Though he has gone to extremes to say he wants to play the rest of his career in Washington, he has also left the door open for not accepting a supermax contract, with the caveat that he needs to learn more about the direction of the franchise

If either of those scenarios happen, if the Wizards do not offer the deal or Beal does not take it, that could effectively spell the end of his time in Washington. Both sides can say otherwise, but try telling fans that everything is okay if Beal turns down what could be an extra $80 million and moves one year closer to hitting free agency, or if Beal doesn't receive the offer at all and therefore is signaled that he isn't worth the money.

If Beal were eligible for a supermax and a new contract was not reached, that would almost certainly begin a saga of trade rumors that could last years. That's the way the NBA works these days and there will be no way to control the narrative.

Now, though that sounds like a worst-case scenario, it might not be for the Wizards. As long as Beal, who turns 26 in June, remains an All-Star talent and under contract, they have options. If they felt they had to trade him, they could get plenty of assets in return. It would just be a difficult and possibly ugly process to go through.

It all hinges on the All-NBA announcement. If Beal doesn't make the team, everyone moves on like nothing happened. If he does get it, everything changes for him, the Wizards and their offseason.

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Bradley Beal's recent scoring surge has him in the company of all-timers

Bradley Beal's recent scoring surge has him in the company of all-timers

The wins haven't been there for the Wizards, but over the last 15 games, Bradley Beal has played the best basketball of his career. 

He has the second-longest streak of 25-point games (15) this season, recently set a new career-high for 30-point games in a season (25) and just dropped 50 points on back-to-back nights. The last player to do that? Kobe Bryant

Beal is averaging 36.7 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.8 rebounds to go along with 49.5/36.4/86.2 shooting splits. He didn't make the All-Star game, but Beal is making a serious push for an All-NBA selection at the end of the season. 

But just how impressive is it? How does Beal's recent surge stack up against the best players in the NBA this season and former greats of the game?

At this point in the season, only two players have averaged as many points as Beal in a 15-game stretch: James Harden and Damian Lillard, two of the best high-usage scorers in the league. 

Let's forget about averages for a moment. Over the 15-game span in question, Beal has scored a total of 550 points, the highest total in franchise history since Walt Bellamy in 1963-64. Bellamy owns the top four totals in Wizards history, so Beal's stretch comes in at fifth. To be in the same sentence as a Hall-of-Famer, though? Huge accomplishment.

Changing gears, it's time to talk about these 50-pieces Beal is growing accustomed to lately. Entering Wednesday night's game with Brooklyn, Beal's coming off two straight 50-point games. If he were to get 50 again, he'd be in the company of some all-timers. 

Last five players to score 50 points in three straight games

Kobe Bryant: 4 (2007)
Michael Jordan: 3 (1987)
Wilt Chamberlain: 3 (1963)
Elgin Baylor: 3 (1962)
Wilt Chamberlain: 3 (1962)

If Beal is going to get to three-straight games of 50-plus points, he'll probably have to have a few more monster fourth quarters. He already put up a 22-point fourth quarter on Monday against Milwaukee and a 21-point fourth against Chicago on Sunday.

His explosion against the Bucks marks the fourth-highest scoring fourth quarter in the NBA this season. Zach LaVine, Jordan Clarkson and Coby White are the only players with more believe it or not. 

To put it in context with Wizards history, the 22-point fourth ranks as the fourth-highest scoring quarter for a Wizard since 1998, and if we're talking about the highest-scoring fourth quarters in Wizards history, Beal would own the top three. 

Beal has shown no signs of slowing down in this ruthless revenge tour he's putting opposing defenses through since he was snubbed from the All-Star game. It'd be nice for the Wizards to get a few more wins as they push for the last playoff spot in the East, but for now, Washington fans can sit back and enjoy the show. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Real Marquee Matchup: Bradley Beal looks to keep historic streak going vs. Nets

Real Marquee Matchup: Bradley Beal looks to keep historic streak going vs. Nets

It is only natural when a player has a big game, like scoring 50 points, to wonder if they can do it again. Bradley Beal actually did that this week, scoring 55 points against the Bucks just one night after dropping 53 on the Bulls.

Now he goes into Wednesday night with a chance to do something no one has done since Kobe Bryant in 2007: score 50 points in three consecutive games. Only four players have ever gone for 50-plus in three straight: Bryant, Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain.

Beal, of course, has technically scored 53-plus in two straight games. If he were to somehow do that a third time, he would be only the second player to accomplish the feat. Chamberlain is the other.

Basically, if Beal were to go off for 50 or more again, it would put him in extremely rare company, even rarer than the group he joined on Monday night. So, expectations should definitely be set accordingly.

That said, Beal happens to have some recent success against the team he will face on Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets. Beal has scored 30-plus in his last three meetings with them, shooting 53.7 percent from the field along the way. The Wizards won two of those three games. 

Earlier this month, Beal went off for 34 points with six rebounds, three steals and three blocks against Brooklyn. He has their number.

The Nets, though, are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They boast the seventh-best defensive rating (107.9), are fourth in opponent field goal percentage (44.1) and ninth in three-point percentage (34.5).

And those numbers are while playing a lot of games with Kyrie Irving. Though Irving is one of the most gifted offensive players in the league, there is reason to believe Brooklyn could get better defensively now that he is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Can Beal keep it rolling? Watch at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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