On the eve of the Washington Wizards’ preseason opener Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, Bradley Beal again made it clear: He’s serious about the whole long two-pointers thing. That is, Beal repeated he wants to eliminate those inefficient shots as much as possible. As he put it, cutting back on long twos is his top goal this preseason.
“The biggest thing, man, like I’ve been preaching all summer, is just not shooting those long twos,” Beal said Monday, later adding another objective is to be named first-team all-defense. “It’s going to be kind of hard not shooting an open shot that you have and Witt’s screaming in our ear ‘Shoot the ball,’ but at the same time that’s something I want to eliminate as much as possible and it’s going to be in my mind. Hopefully I won’t be shooting and be like, ‘Dang, I shot a long two,’ and that’s constantly on my mind.”
Beal and his trainer Drew Hanlen decided he had to cut back on the shots after evaluating film and statistics after last season. They then centered Beal’s offseason regimen on finishing around the basket and creating his shot from beyond the three-point line, including a step-back three-pointer.
“It’s just a matter of me knocking them down with confidence,” Beal, 22, said.
Of Beal’s 851 field-goal attempts last regular season, 27.9 percent were from 16 to 24 feet though he made just 33.2 percent of them, the second-worst mark among players with at least 200 shots from that range. But Beal wasn’t the only guilty party; the Wizards averaged 19 shots from that range, fifth-most in the league. Beal expects that number to fall this season as the Wizards incorporate more lineups with four three-point shooters to quicken the pace and create space in order to generate more driving lanes and open triples.
“As a team, that’s what we’re doing now,” said Beal, who is set to become a restricted free agent next summer if he and the Wizards don’t agree on a contract extension by Halloween. “We want to try to eliminate those long twos as much as possible.”
Coach Randy Wittman agreed, in part, with Beal’s new outlook. Wittman acknowledged cutting down on long midrange jumpers made sense, but only in certain situations, not all the time.
“It’s not so much the twos, it’s positioning, how he’s getting it,” Wittman said. “He should never be in a catch-and-shoot situation, where he’s taking a long two if his man went to help. And that’s the main thing. You’re going to catch the ball at the three-point line and you’re going to get run off. I still want him to have the ability to put the ball on the floor a couple dribbles and make a pull-up jump shot. Those are shots that we’ll take all the time.
“Like I said, it’s more looking at film with him, it’s more, ‘How is he getting those long twos?’ Some of them are acceptable, some of them aren’t.”
Wittman wants to see is the Bradley Beal he saw in the playoffs. That Beal was aggressive. He attacked the basket, took 3.3 more free throws per game than during the regular season and averaged 23.4 points.
“That’s exactly how he’s got to continue to play starting off this year,” Wittman said.