“It just felt like the place for me,” Beal said recently in Las Vegas. “It was the best workout I had, and it was the first one. It just felt right. The city is great and I figured it was a great opportunity to come in and have an impact with the organization. I love Ernie [Grunfeld, the team president] and Ted [Leonsis, the owner], as well and the whole coaching staff here is great. I had a bond with everybody immediately.”
So far, Beal is off to a decent start toward justifying the Wizards’ decision to honor his request (though Leonsis recently said Beal was the player the team wanted all along). Beal was named to the all-Summer League team from Las Vegas on Sunday after averaging 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists while leading the Wizards to a 3-2 record.
Beal scored at least 20 points twice, grabbed at least six rebounds three times and handed out four assists once. His performance was more steady than spectacular. Beal wasn’t too pleased with his shooting from the floor (41.8 percent) or from beyond the three-point line (30 percent), but he also wants to get better.
The most impressive aspect of Beal’s performance was that he never forced the action and let the game to come to him, even if assistant Sam Cassell asked him to be a little more aggressive.
“Honestly, if I feel as though I’m open, coach is going to tell me to shoot it. It’s times I was open and passed and coach got all on my head, so I mean, certain situations, I’m an unselfish player,” Beal said. “I’d rather get somebody else going. I’ll eventually get going myself. That’s just my mentality. But it’s really just staying focused and staying within the flow of the game, actually.”
Baltimore native Josh Selby of the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard, the sixth overall pick last June, were named co-MVPs of the NBA Summer League.
But Beal helped the Wizards continue their string of impressive individual Summer League performances. Two years ago, John Wall was named most outstanding player in Las Vegas after averaging 23.5 points and 7.8 assists. JaVale McGee also made the Summer League team in 2010 after averaging 19.5 points and 9.3 rebounds, and even earned an invitation to tryout for the United States in advance of the world championships.
Now Beal can look forward to the regular season and sharing the back court with Wall. Wall watched the final three games in Las Vegas and hung out with Beal last Monday when the team had the day off.
“I think it can work pretty real well with John,” Beal told reporters in Las Vegas last week. “John likes to attack hard on the screen. Being a two guard. That’s a real fit for me. I think it’ll be great. We just want to win. That’s our mentality. We want to make each other better every day. That’s what he wants. That’s what I want. I think our chemistry is already building. I really can’t wait to play alongside him.
Wall said he isn’t worried about Beal coming in an contributing. “You’re expecting so much from him. I just want him to play his game. Knock down shots and play his game. People have to understand, he’s going to have his off nights, but we’ve got to be there as a team to lift us up.”