Bradley Beal: Comparing Young Star to Pro Counterparts

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistMay 29, 2012

Bradley Beal: Comparing Young Star to Pro Counterparts

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    Many teams in the NBA can sure use a young, talented shooting guard right now, making Bradley Beal an interesting name to watch in the upcoming NBA draft.

    After earning First Team All-SEC in his freshman year at the University of Florida, the 18-year-old decided to forgo his sophomore year and go pro. Beal averaged 14.8 points per game on 44.5 percent shooting along with 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals in his lone season with the Gators.

    Leaving college after one year doesn't appear to have damaged his value. In a draft full of uncertainty after Kentucky's Anthony Davis, Beal could be selected as high as No. 3 overall. As Beal prepares to enter the NBA, here is how his skill set fares in comparison to his future peers  

Size: Ben Gordon

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    Often labeled a "tweener," Beal stands in at 6'3'' and 207 pounds, smaller than most professional shooting guards. 

    Ben Gordon, 6'3'', 200 pounds, also received that label after leaving college. Selected by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 3 pick of the 2004 NBA draft, Gordon has made a living providing an offensive spark off the bench. In eight seasons with the Bulls and Pistons, Gordon has averaged 16.5 points per game, knocking down plenty of shots in the fourth quarter.

    Beal is stronger than Gordon and possesses a powerful frame and good athleticism. He should fare just fine as an NBA shooting guard.

Rebounding: Landry Fields

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    In his rookie season in 2010, Landry Fields led all guards with 6.4 rebounds per game. Although his offensive inefficiency has prevented him from developing into a complete player, his determination away from the ball keeps him on the court.

    Beal, who averaged 6.7 boards in Florida, could emerge as one of the top rebounding guards in the league. During his four-year stay at Stanford, Fields averaged 5.0 rebounds per game. Beal's efficiency on the boards at such a young age compares favorably to another top rebounding guard. In his freshman year at Marquette, Dwyane Wade averaged 6.3 rebounds per game.

    Beal's prowess grabbing loose balls can help solidify his role as an important piece to an NBA franchise.

Defense: Arron Afflalo

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    Arron Afflalo is rarely recognized by casual basketball fans who likely stray away in fear of having to spell his name, but his solid play on both ends of the court makes him one of the better shooting guards in the league right now.

    While Afflalo may not be considered a lock-down defender, he gets the job done more often than not. Due to his size, Beal could struggle at times to defend some of the larger, more physical shooting guards in the NBA. Then again, how many of those guys are around right now? He could struggle to guard a guy like Joe Johnson, but he still displays the skills of a capable defender.

    Beal won't be the second coming of Tony Allen or Iman Shumpert, but he can buckle down and provide some stops when needed. 

Scoring: Eric Gordon

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    Eric Gordon's name pops up most often when comparing Beal to an NBA player.

    Although he only played nine games last year, Gordon is considered one of the top young shooting guards in the league. Also 6'3", Gordon scored 22.3 points per game in the 2010-11 season before the Clippers shipped him away for Chris Paul. His career 45.2 shooting percentage compares closely to Beal's 44.5 mark last year.

    A capable shooter, Gordon can create his own shot and drive to the basket. While he can knock down a three-pointer once in a while, it's not his forte. Some people have compared Beal's shot to Ray Allen, but his shooting efficiency is nowhere near the level of one of the top shooters in NBA history. Beal shot 33.9 percent from long distance, but many scouts expect him to improve his stroke.

    Beal might not offer superstar potential, but he could develop into an above-average scorer like Gordon who is a valuable commodity considering the league's lack of premier shooting guards.