“I guess because of the potential they see in me,” Beal said, trying to explain his rising draft status on the first day of the NBA combine in Chicago, where the 62 best NBA prospects get examined and interviewed. “I really wish I could tell you, but I have no clue.”
Charlotte will have first dibs on the best player not named Anthony Davis in this draft, leaving Washington to pick from what remains. Certainly, other players — Kansas junior forward Thomas Robinson, North Carolina sophomore swingman Harrison Barnes and even Connecticut big man Andre Drummond — are expected to be under serious consideration for the Wizards; they are in dire need of a talent upgrade after finishing with the league’s second-worst record and out of the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
But the Wizards also need considerable help on the perimeter, as they ranked 28th in three-point shooting last season. And Kidd-Gilchrist or Beal could fill a glaring hole as the team continues its efforts to add the right pieces around former No. 1 overall pick John Wall.
No matter where he lands, Kidd-Gilchrist said he knows that he won’t find the same level of success that he had in his one season at Kentucky, where he and Davis led the Wildcats to the national championship. He admitted that he’s not equipped to handle losing but would have to adjust.
“I might cry some nights,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I just hate losing games.”
After Kentucky suffered its first loss in Indiana last season, Kidd-Gilchrist met with Coach John Calipari to organize early-morning workout sessions with his teammates to make sure that they wouldn’t have any more slip ups that would cost them a title.
Teammate Marquis Teague said Kidd-Gilchrist was “the heart” of the Wildcats, as he brought a defensive tenacity and scrappy competitiveness each time he stepped on the floor. Young enough to consider his basketball idol Scottie Pippen “old-school,” the 6-foot-8 Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds at Kentucky. But he mentioned that he sacrificed for the good of the team in order to win.
He added that his jump shot is better than he showed in college.
“I mean, I’m working harder and harder on it each an every day, but it’s there,” he said. “Y’all just didn’t see my little stroke. I got a stroke.”
Beal entered college with a reputation for being a shooter, but he was disappointed that the numbers didn’t support the expectations in his one season – until the SEC and NCAA tournaments, as he finally grew more comfortable in his role and averaged 16.6 points on 58 percent shooting, including 46 percent from behind the three-point line, in his final five games.