Imagine your entire career being stuck in the shadow of a person you think you’re better than. From the organization to the fans, no matter how well you play, he’ll still always be the face of the organization.
Now, imagine after ascending to All-League level status, your organization ships away your shadow for a better player.
Welcome to the NBA career of Bradley Beal.
Drafted three years after John Wall, Beal was simply never going to eclipse the number one pick of the organization. Even as Beal averaged over 30 points per game and Wall sat out his second straight season with an injury, the embattled point guard was mad the team had been moving to build around Beal.
It was clear at that point no matter what Beal did, Washington would always be Wall’s town. That is until they shipped him and his super-max contract for Russell Westbrook.
Now, Beal can finally move past the charade of pretending he likes playing with Wall and instead cement himself as the leader of the Wizards. Sure, Westbrook is going to demand the basketball a bunch but, much like Paul George when he had his best season in 2018-19, there’s a way to play off him quite easily.
We constantly act like it’s impossible to play next to Russ despite the fact Kevin Durant won multiple scoring titles and George and James Harden finished top five in MVP voting. Whether Russ’ style is conducive to winning is another conversation entirely.
I’m not saying the Wizards are winning the 2021 NBA title now. Far from it. What I’m saying is Westbrook is a better fit next to Beal.
Beal became an All-Star excelling playing off-ball so that remains in his DNA. Where he has truly grown in is his work with the ball and Westbrook has shown the past two seasons that he’s capable of acclimating to that role.
It probably won’t go off without a hitch but here’s the thing, the Wizards just traded a guy whose entire career was based off explosion and hasn’t played in two years after having the worst possible injury for that explosion for a guy who made an All-NBA team last season. I get everyone hates Westbrook and he can’t shoot and his contract sucks however, he was a top 15 player in the NBA literally last season.
The last time Wall made an All-NBA team was Westbrook’s MVP season. Like this isn’t that close of a comparison between the two guys even if Wall was healthy and he clearly isn’t.
What’s best for Beal is even in spite of the fact the Westbrook thing might be a complete disaster, the Wizards officially announced they’re his team.
If Russ sucks this year, his deal only has two years left on it and is way more movable. If he plays great and the Wizards get the six or seven seed, then Beal will be back to the playoffs where he wants.
All of this ignores the fact that quietly with Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Davis Bertans, the Wizards are building an interesting young core. They have a great shooting team to help allow Westbrook to regain his All-NBA form and they’re young enough to align with Beal’s prime or be great assets for acquiring a disgruntled potential co-star for Beal in a couple of years.
Even if Washington sucks or he just wants to be somewhere else, Beal is a good enough player that he can get pretty much anywhere he wants.
Could this be his final year in Washington? I don’t anyone would be surprised.
Guess what though? For the first time, his future and the franchise’s future are under his control and that is a win no matter how you look at it for Bradley Beal.