He was the right pick at No. 3 for Washington, the perfect back-court complement to John Wall as the Wizards gradually try to wake a slumbering fan base and become part of the NBA conversation again.
In point of fact, Beal actually could be a big reason why the Wizards don’t lose Wall to another team in two years. Even if he doesn’t start immediately, he represents the best insurance that Wall may stick around past 2014 when his rookie deal expires.
Why? Because the current league-wide trend is good players eventually leaving franchises they don’t feel will ever reach championship potential. Other than perennial all-star status, what do Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have in common? They stopped trusting their teammates and started doing everything on their own a few years ago. They all left the teams that drafted them via blockbuster trades because they stopped believing in the future of their first franchises. Dwight Howard in Orlando is the next to go.
If the Wizards feel Wall is that type of player, the way to ensure he doesn’t go is to give him a guy who will knock down a big shot in a big game, someone he won’t roll his eyes at when he misses for the eighth time in the clutch after Wall breaks down a defense, penetrates and kicks it out for the win.
Beal can be that guy.
“It’s just something that is very easy to him,” Randy Wittman, the Wizards coach and a very good shooter himself, said of Beal. “The added three-point line from the NBA from college is not a problem. . . . I hate saying, ‘He’s Reggie Miller’ or ‘He’s Ray Allen.’ But I’ll say this: All great shooters have great feet, great footwork. You could see in our workout he had it. He has a stroke, all right, the ability to spot up like few players we’ve seen. He’s going to be a good shooter in this league.”
Beal doesn’t turn the Wizards into a playoff team next season, but he is a building block who could mature into one of the best role players in the league within three years, a player who could prevent the umpteenth draft night lottery party in Washington, where the mood is essentially, “Hey, look everybody, we got another 19-year-old.”
“I don’t want to be in the lottery anymore,” Ted Leonsis said prior to the draft Thursday night at Verizon Center. The team owner added, “I would find that unacceptable.”
Unrealistic or not, there are real playoff aspirations on Abe Pollin Way. Seeing a first-round elimination at the hands of the world champion Miami Heat next season seems like a stretch, at least on paper.