PHOENIX — Before this week, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal already had two big factors favoring his bid to be a 2018 all-star.
First, he carried the sympathy of being a snub. Last February, Beal came close to being selected as an injury replacement for Kevin Love in the All-Star Game in New Orleans. Though Beal was averaging more than 24 points and the Wizards owned the best record in the East during a stretch of games following the all-star reserves announcement, Carmelo Anthony, who had received the next highest vote total, got the nod.
“It was kind of weird to me,” Beal said at the time about the process in which he was left off the team.
Don’t feel too bad for Beal though — he and girlfriend, Kamiah Adams, drowned their disappointment under the Dominican Republic sun during the all-star break.
Still, the public loves snubs. Especially every February when someone gets left off the list that begins with the fan vote. The NBA has given power to the people and the people back Beal.
The second factor working for Beal is that he’s a shooting guard in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, that’s a very simple statement but let’s say it even more plainly: Beal is a shooting guard in a conference featuring also-rans and upstarts. While big men Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis should be first-time selections and create some excitement for this year’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles, the guards in the East, aside from Kyrie Irving, generate a collective “meh.” Unless watching DeMar DeRozan take midrange jumpers is your thing … or Kemba Walker make under-the-rim plays … or Victor Oladipo do whatever Victor Oladipo has been doing in Indiana. (Well, Oladipo did do this. So, that’s legit.)
Point being, who among them is head and shoulders better — and more compelling — than Beal? No one.
Alas, Beal already had a strong case for being a first-time all-star but this week Beal should have officially booked his ticket to Los Angeles. With a signature career moment — scoring 51 points against the Portland Trail Blazers — Beal joined MVP hopefuls LeBron James and James Harden as the only 50-plus scorers this season.
Remember how often John Wall complained about how a lack of exposure compromised his stature? Then, it’s important to point out that Beal scored 51 on a national platform as the Wizards-Blazers game aired during the “Players Only” telecast on NBA TV. Following the game, Beal’s all-star candidacy gained steamed on NBA Twitter — the place where levelheaded debate lives without a hint of overreaction.
Although the upcoming All-Star Game will look different — two captains will pick teams, eliminating the East-versus-West format — the voting process remains the same. The 10 starters will be selected by fans (50 percent of the vote), players (25 percent) and basketball media (25 percent). It’s a long shot for Beal to make the starters, which consists of two guards and three frontcourt slots. Boston’s team success should ensure Irving keeps his starting point guard spot, and Wall should receive heaps of votes.
Regardless, Beal shouldn’t worry about booking another exotic vacation this February. He started November by scoring 40, 36 and 38 in consecutive games, but Tuesday night’s performance served as the ultimate all-star resume-builder.
The Wizards should have two all-stars heading to Los Angeles, and Beal should finally get his due.