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Bradley Beal has strong All-Star case and a great chance for a final push

Bradley Beal has strong All-Star case and a great chance for a final push

Despite not making the 2019-20 All-Star Game as a starter, Bradley Beal still has a chance to get in as a reserve. He just may need a strong closing argument before the coaches' votes are in.

Beal has already put up impressive, All-Star caliber numbers. He is averaging 27.8 points, 6.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds and a steal per game. He's third in the East in scoring and 10th in assists.

His shooting percentages (45.2 FG%, 31.6 3PT%) are down from his career averages, but the volume is there. No player has averaged more than 27 points per game and not made the All-Star Game that season since Dominique Wilkins all the way back in 1984-85. That's 35 years.

Team success, though, does count and if Beal doesn't get in it will be widely blamed on the Wizards' record. They are currently 15-29 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Putting up points on bad teams can be seen as empty-calorie stats. Just ask Devin Booker, who averaged 26.6 points and didn't make the cut last season because his Phoenix Suns were a lottery team.

Beal, though, has the fact he's been an All-Star each of the past two years working for him. He has the pedigree that when people around the league think of him, they think 'All-Star.' He knows all too well what it's like not having that established reputation, as it probably cost him an All-Star nod back in 2016-17.

The competition, though, will be serious. With the five starters named, that leaves seven open spots in the Eastern Conference. And guys like Jayson Tatum of the Celtics and Jimmy Butler of the Heat are essentially locks. Kyle Lowry of the Raptors is also a safe bet.

The coaches will have to show some love to the big men as well which means Nikola Vucevic of the Magic, Bam Adebayo of the Heat and Domantas Sabonis of the Pacers are good candidates. Guards Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Jaylen Brown of the Celtics are also going to be in the mix and so will Khris Middleton of the Bucks.

Beal is likely to fall in a group of guards that won't be easy to choose from. It could be between him, Simmons, Brown, Zach LaVine of the Bulls and Malcolm Brogdon of the Pacers. Beal scores more than all of them, but most of those guys are on much better teams than he is, LaVine being the lone exception.

Here's a look at their numbers, for comparison:

B. Beal, WAS - 27.8 ppg, 6.4 apg, 4.5 rpg, 45.2 FG%, 31.6 3PT%
B. Simmons, PHI - 16 ppg, 8.5 apg, 7.8 rpg, 57.8 FG%, LOL
J. Brown, BOS - 20 ppg, 2.4 apg, 6.8 ppg, 49.1 FG%, 39.1 3PT%
Z. LaVine, CHI - 25 ppg, 3.8 apg, 4.7 rpg, 44.5 FG%, 39 3PT%
M. Brogdon, IND - 17.1 ppg, 7.3 ap,g, 4.3 rpg, 43.9 FG%, 34.3 3PT%

Beal, though, still has two games left to make his case before the All-Star reserves are announced on Thursday, and you could say the schedule has worked out in his favor.

On Sunday, he will see the Hawks, which means he will square off against Trae Young, one of the starting guards in the East. And on Tuesday, he will go head-to-head with Middleton and the Bucks. If Beal can come up with big games, he could outshine the guy who beat him out for a starting spot and then another who is now competing with him to be a reserve.

If his recent games are any indication, Beal is going to finish strong. He had 38 points and nine rebounds against the Heat on Wednesday night and then followed that with 36 points and eight assists against the Cavs on Thursday.

Beal has been on a roll lately and it's coming at a good time. Now he has to seal the deal.

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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. 

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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.

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