Just two days after practicing for the first time since fracturing his left wrist nearly six weeks earlier, Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal is set to make his season debut Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Beal will come off the bench and be on a minutes limit as he works his way back to game action. The slick shooter sustained a non-displaced fracture of the scaphoid bone in his non-shooting wrist in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets on Oct. 10. The 21-year-old underwent surgery two days later.
Coach Randy Wittman told reporters Tuesday that Beal’s status would not be decided until Beal was evaluated Wednesday morning, but Beal has worked out the last two nights and participated in live competition Tuesday night without a hitch.
The Wizards have officially listed Beal as questionable. He was the last player on the court after shootaround Wednesday, taking extra free throws and shots from behind the three-point line. After the shootaround Beal denied that a final decision has been made and explained that the chief concern is not his wrist, but his conditioning.
“Just making sure I’m in shape because I don’t want to get out here and have a different type of injury that’s not even related to my wrist,” Beal said. “At the same time I want to make sure this is 100 percent, making sure I’m confident enough to go out there not afraid of getting hit or whatever and making sure I can still catch the ball, shoot the ball, and dribble as well.”
The Wizards have more than just managed without Beal, their second-leading scorer last season. They went 7-2 without the rising star, thanks to a weak schedule, stifling defense and point guard John Wall raising his game to another level. Garrett Temple, who has been dealing with a minor wrist injury in recent games, has started in Beal’s place.
But Beal will supply a much-needed three-point threat and, subsequently, create more space for Wall to maneuver. The point guard has shouldered the load in his back court partner’s absence, averaging 19.4 points and 9.1 assists through nine games.
“We’re just going to be better,” center Marcin Gortat said. “I can’t imagine there’s going to be somebody in this league or on this team that will say Bradley Beal’s going to come back and we’re going to be worse. Come on. That guy is one of the biggest rising stars in this league.”