Bradley Beal made history with first NBA start

November 5, 2012

This was historic, huh? (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Bradley Beal may be disappointed with how he’s played in his first two starts for the Wizards, but that doesn’t change the fact that the 19-year-old rookie out of Florida has already made NBA history.

When he stepped on the court for the opening tip in Cleveland last Tuesday, Beal, at 19 years 124 days, became the second-youngest player to start at shooting guard in a team’s season opener, according to basketball-reference.com.

If not for District native Kevin Durant’s miscast beginnings, Beal would’ve been the youngest ever shooting guard. Durant has since shifted to small forward, but he made his debut for the Seattle SuperSonics as a 6-foot-9 shooting guard on Oct. 31, 2007.

The 6-5 Beal was also the seventh-youngest opening night starter at any position, behind LeBron James (18, 303), Dwight Howard (18, 331), Andrew Bynum (19,4), Darius Miles (19, 22), Durant (19, 32) and fellow rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (19, 37).

James, Howard, Bynum and Miles all entered the NBA straight out of high school and Bynum is the only member of that group who wasn’t the opening day starter in his rookie season. Durant, Kidd-Gilchrist and Beal all entered the league after one year of college.

In all, only 18 players age 19 or younger have started the season opener for their teams. James and Howard did it twice.

Beal matched Miles and Johan Petro for the fifth-lowest lowest point total of a 19-year-old with just eight points. Stephon Marbury went scoreless in his debut. Kyrie Irving, last year’s rookie of the year, had six points. Lamar Odom scored the most points for a 19-year-old when he dropped 30 points in his debut for the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 11, 1999.

Beal, who was picked third overall on his 19th birthday, has scored 10 points on just 2-of-13 shooting in his first two games for the Wizards and his teammates have urged him to be patient and not get too down on himself.

“He’s a rook. His whole season is going to be trying to figure it out,” center Emeka Okafor said. “He’s going to get down, because he’s going to try to do well all the time. He’ll learn that you can’t and just give a good effort. You can’t get to high. You can’t get to low in this league. You’ve just got to keep an even keel and keep moving.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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