The good news is that while he didn’t take part in drills, Beal didn’t appear hobbled as he took shots and walked around the Verizon Center practice court. Ordinarily, it might be an easy call to hold him out of Wednesday’s exhibition game given that it is just a preseason contest. But this particular one will be in Beal’s home state where he’ll have plenty of support from friends and family in the crowd.
Beal, a St. Louis native, was optimistic he would be able to face the Heat.
“I’m fine. I tweaked it a little bit,” Beal said. “Coach held me out today but I was able to shoot and stuff, jump on it a little bit and run – I can still run. I’ll just keep icing it and hopefully I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
The third-overall pick in the 2012 draft, Beal has spent the preseason competing with Jordan Crawford for the starting shooting guard spot. Beal started half of the first six preseason games, has seen anywhere from 23 to 30 minutes per contest and admitted that despite his playing time he doesn’t know exactly what role he’ll be in during the regular season. He doesn’t seem to mind the uncertainty, though.
“The only thing about coming off the bench is you get stiff and you have to be ready to play as soon as you get into the game,” Beal said when asked if he approaches a bench role differently. “There was a time where I got in a game and I was wide open for a three — I had to shoot it: ‘Just can’t pass up a shot like this.’ [Being ready immediately is] tough but at the same time there’s no different mental approach to it. You still have to come in and play.”
For the most part, Beal’s preseason has provided plenty of examples of his consistency and composure. Certainly, he will face harsher tests in the regular season from opponents’ physicality and the rigors of an NBA schedule but Wittman is familiar with helping a rookie through those situations. How much responsibility and minutes Beal shoulders this year, will ultimately be decided by the 19-year-old himself.
“This preseason is one thing. Come the 30th it’s a whole different game,” Wittman said. “I like what I’ve seen and he’s going to show me what he can do and how many minutes he can withstand as a rookie. Those things will be pretty much black and white to me from what he’s doing on the floor.”
There are certain pros and cons to asking a rookie to serve as a starter, but if it happens in Beal’s case it would all just be part of the learning process.
“You don’t know what you’re going to get right away,” Wittman said of starting rookies. “There’s an unknown there for the first month of the season until you see how he handles the different scenarios that would come up.”
In an unrelated note … In celebration of Jordan Crawford’s 24th birthday Tuesday, the Wizards had him serenaded by Beal, Steven Gray and last year’s rookies. Apparently there was some debate over the quality of the performance.
“We had them sing a little birthday song for JC. It was okay,” Cartier Martin said. “They wasn’t too vocal, man. We might have to get them to do it again; depends on how JC feels once we get to Kansas City.”