The Washington Wizards may have landed the piece they need to become competitors in the Eastern Conference this upcoming season.
A franchise languishing at the bottom of the league and desperate for a shooting guard found one in one-and-done Florida man Bradley Beal. The St. Louis native is a dynamic scorer with a smooth shooting stroke, which he complements with a rugged ability to get to the rim.
He has an NBA-ready body and is a very physical 2-guard that will only get bigger as a professional. Thanks to the addition of Beal and a key trade, basketball may be back in the nation's capital.
In addition to drafting Beal, the Wizards have made significant upgrades already this season. NBA veterans Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor are now inside the beltway and should make immediate contributions.
The Wizards landed the pair from New Orleans in exchange for Rashard Lewis, who was often hurt and never quite fit in Washington. Okafor is a former No. 2 overall pick, who has struggled with injuries but when healthy, is an excellent rebounder. In fact, he's averaged a double-double for his career. Ariza brings versatility at the small forward position and solid perimeter defense. Both are expected to compete for starting spots.
Beal was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, a McDonald's All American and one of the most coveted recruits in the nation while in high school. He played in Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan's uptempo offense which allowed him to showcase his ball-handling skills and excellent ability to finish in transition.
One of the things that impressed Washington so much about Beal is his confidence and maturity. In fact, Donovan feels those are two of his strongest intangibles, "I don't feel like there is anything that will be thrown his way next year that he won't be able to handle," Donovan said.
While he's listed at 6'5", Beal is more like 6'3"-6'4" which is a bit undersized for an NBA shooting guard. Beal, who will wear No. 3, will be hoping to follow the course of another undersized, native Midwesterner, Dwyane Wade, in becoming a star at the next level by utilizing his physical upper body and quickness to get into the lane to create scoring opportunities.
In just a few days, the Washington Wizards new starting lineup appears to have taken shape. With the addition of John Wall, Jan Vesely and Bradley Beal in the last three NBA drafts, the future looks very bright in DC.
Washington's star point guard, Wall, now has the backcourt mate he's needed to help form a dynamic, young attack. The impact that a healthy and motivated Nenê could bring down low on the blocks should not be underestimated.
The Wizards are also hoping to get some solid bench minutes from Trevor Booker, who was a very efficient low-post scorer for the Wiz last season. Booker averaged 25 minutes per game, scoring 8.4 ppg on 53% shooting and snaring nearly seven boards a night.
Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman has a long way to go still toward establishing the Wizards as a bona fide threat in the Eastern Conference. Setting the goal of making the Playoffs next season may seem lofty but thanks to some superb off season additions, it's certainly not out of reach. The future is now in DC.