Adding a wing player who consistently can sink jump shots is among the top priorites for the Washington Wizards in the June 28 NBA draft, and on Thursday morning, the club’s coaches and front office executives got their chance to evaluate a guard in Bradley Beal who’s an ideal fit for that job despcription.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Florida caught the attention of Coach Randy Wittman and his staff as well as team President Ernie Grunfeld during the 5-4-3-2-1 drill in which a player must make five jumpers at one end of the court, four at the other and so on until finishing with a dunk.
Beal needed nine shots to sink his first five field goals but missed only once the rest of the way, including going 4 for 4 in the second round and making consecutive jumpers in the fourth round. Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson and Grambling State guard Quincy Roberts also participated in the approximately two-hour session.
“I think I did pretty good actually,” Beal said. “I wasn’t too nervous. I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I was, but overall I think a pretty good job, showcased a lot of things I was capable of doing.”
Beal is expected to be selected in the top five and may be available when the Wizards pick at No. 3 overall. Other players on Washington’s radar include Kansas forward Thomas Robinson and Kentucky guard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Robinson, a native of the District, worked out on Wednesday, and Kidd-Gilchrist is scheduled to do the same on Friday.
Neither of those players, though, possesses a jump shot as reliable as Beal, who after averaging 14.8 points per game for the Gators last season as a freshman declared for the draft.
Beal’s stock ascended considerably thanks to a closing stretch of the season in which he developed much more confidence in his jumper. That translated into elevated shooting percentages that helped him become the first Florida player to be named first-team all-SEC and SEC all-freshman in the same season.
“Basically I can create off the dribble,” Beal said. “We did a lot of drills where we had to dribble the ball and pull up and shoot jumpers, so I think I did a pretty good job of that. That’s what I wanted to showcase the most.”
Another enticement for the Wizards to select Beal is skill as a rebounder. Beal averaged nearly seven a game, the most on Florida, and led all guards in rebounding among the six major conferences.
Beal had 10 games with at least 10 rebounds. All other guards in the SEC, meantime, combined for five games in double-figure rebounding, and no other guard in the SEC had more than one game with at least 10 rebounds.
“I believe I can probably rebound when I want to,” Beal said. Florida “Coach [Billy Donovan] constantly got on my butt about that too. I just took it upon myself to be able to do it, and I just took that responsibility to step up and start rebounding.”
As a national high school player of the year as a senior, Beal said he finally realized near the end of this season he needed to focus on having fun rather than chase the expectations.
That modification allowed his game to flourish, and these days Beal is intent on highlighting skills other than his shooting ability. He had a 39-inch maximum vertical leap at the NBA combine, and he has the arms and hands perhaps to become a reliable defender at the next level.
“I’m the type of guy that wants to earn everything,” Beal said. “I want to earn every bit of it. I don’t want anything given to me. I’m just going to come here and work hard if [the Wizards] choose me.”
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