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Bradley Beal Deserves Better Than This

Liam McKeone
Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal / Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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It was another ho-hum night for Bradley Beal on Monday as the Washington Wizards guard scored 34 points on 12-22 shooting. Another night of buckets in a season where he's averaging 34 points per game. The big difference is that, last night against the Suns, the Wizards actually won the game, only their third of the year. So far, it looks like it'll be another season of Beal going wild on the stat sheet while his team fails to win anything and, as Beal said the other night, can't defend a parked car.

Beal deserves better because he has evolved into one of the NBA's most dangerous scorers in the years since John Wall went down with a torn Achilles. Beal was forced to take on the mantle of the No. 1 option on the team after slowly growing into his role as Wall's sidekick and delivered in bigger ways than anyone could have imagined; he averaged 25 points per game the season Wall went down with his second All-Star berth and jumped up to 30 PPG in the shortened 2019-20 season. Unfortunately, Beal's one-man band in Washington has not led to winning basketball in any measure; the Wizards won 25 games and lost 47 last season, and that trend has continued.

Beal has been on fire to begin this strange pandemic year, and especially the last three games. He scored 60 points against Philadelphia, 41 against Boston, and then 34 against Phoenix. That is 135 points over three matchups. The Wizards lost the first two of those games despite his prolific output. The unfortunate thing for Beal is that his team is not poised to turn it all around anytime soon.

Beal's new running mate is Russell Westbrook after Wall was traded before the season. Westbrook has been abjectly, almost stunningly terrible to begin the season. The former MVP is averaging 19 points per game on 37 percent shooting despite recording a usage rate of 29.5, which currently ranks 19th in the NBA. Westbrook has the ball in his hands as often as former teammate James Harden has this year while averaging substantially less statistical output on far worse efficiency. Westbrook also considers defending optional. He is averaging 11 assists per game, but any average point guard can set the table for Beal with how he's playing right now.

To top it all off, starting center Thomas Bryant tore his ACL last week and 2019 first-round pick Rui Hachimura is on the shelf for a few weeks with his own injury. Scott Brooks is in the final year of his contract as head coach and has been completely unable to find lineup combinations that work on a consistent basis. The Wizards are spiraling, and the destination will be the back half of the lottery. Again.

Someone needs to save Beal. Washington has no interest in trading their star right now, and from everything he's said Beal wants to try to make it work with the team that drafted him. But the Wizards have no clear path to contention because even when Beal scores 60 freaking points they lose. Hachimura and 2020 first-rounder Deni Avdija have talent but mostly on offense, which overlaps with Beal's skillset. Brooks is probably gone after this season barring a total turnaround and then the Wizards are back at square one with their schemes.

Beal is only 27-years-old and likely has his best years ahead of him. He is an elite scorer who can put the ball in the bucket from anywhere on the court and can defend at an average level when he doesn't need to shoulder the entirety of the offensive load for his team. He may not be quite good enough to carry a team to a championship by himself, but he is certainly good enough to be a No. 2 option alongside a true superstar. Imagine the point output that would come from Beal next to Luka Doncic in Dallas or how dangerous the Pelicans would be if they had Beal initiating for Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

Beal is just too good to be allowed to languish for a terrible team for the rest of his contract.

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