Coaching in the Western Conference, Gregg Popovich doesn't see a ton of Bradley Beal, who plays in the East. Their teams face off twice a year, but that's half as often as they play teams from their own conferences.
So, this week at Team USA's training camp ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Popovich is getting to see Beal up close and personal to a degree he hasn't before. One thing has surprised him in particular.
"He's stronger than I expected. He's a strong young man. I always used to think of him as wiry and thin, but I was totally wrong. He's thick," Popovich said.
It's unclear whether Popovich would spell 'thick' with two Cs or one, but the point stands. Beal is bigger than he may appear from afar and that has helped him become one of the best scorers in the NBA.
This season, Beal was ninth in the league in points scored within five feet of the rim. That is despite being a 6-foot-3 guard, as the eight players ahead of him were all 6-foot-7 or taller.
But it's not just Beal's strength that impresses Popovich, he's long admired his ability to create separation with and without the ball. And that has Popovich excited to coach Beal in the Olympics.
"His movement. He is hard to keep up with. Whether he's coming off of back-picks or he's running the pick-and-roll or he's coming off a single, double sort of situation; his balance and his movement both are very impressive. He stops on a dime, he can pull up and shoot the shot," Popovich said.
"He can shoot the three. He can back cut and leave you in the dust. His movement really informs his shooting if you think about the space that he creates because of his stop, start, stop, start and ability to catch, go up and knock down the shot. That shooting ability along with his excellent footwork, I think is the most impressive thing about him."
Beal now gets to show off those skills, and his thickness, on the global stage.