Washington Wizards: 3 Ways John Wall, Bradley Beal Can Become an Elite Backcourt

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Washington Wizards: 3 Ways John Wall, Bradley Beal Can Become an Elite Backcourt
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
John Wall and Bradley Beal have the chance to solidify the Washington backcourt for the next decade.

Bradley Beal has the skill set to be a perfect foil for John Wall. He will not only make Wall better, but will make the Washington Wizards relevant for years to come.

Let’s bring Jordan Crawford into the equation for a moment. Crawford doesn’t deserve to lose his spot with no explanation, and Beal hasn’t done anything to earn it yet.  

The most likely scenario is that they both see playing time. Crawford isn’t a complete player and benching him for a rookie isn’t going to do his game any favors.

Beal was drafted because he provides a shooting threat that the Wizards lacked last year, but throwing him in as the starter won’t do him or the team any good.

His performance in the summer league was promising, but he only shot 30 percent from beyond the arc. There’s no evidence to suggest he’ll light up the league from the outset.

What the evidence did suggest, however, is that Beal has a very bright future in the NBA. It won't be instant, but the first year is about establishing fundamentals that will allow the partnership to build over the coming years.

Nick Laham/Getty Images
Bradley Beal has the skill set to both match and complement Wall.

Kill Teams With Pace

We know that Wall is fast, but Beal is just as quick. The fast break is a natural way for the Wizards to put up some points with both players on the team.

Wall was often left to do it all himself last year, which sometimes resulted in him losing control on his approach to the basket. With Beal, the Wizards have a two-man break that’s as fast as any in the NBA.

With the pressure off Wall, he can play his natural game. His jump shot still needs work, so he can defer to Beal in this regard. Beal has that perfect elbows-in, balanced shooting motion that coaches love to see.

From a shooting perspective, Beal’s stats at Florida weren’t spectacular, but neither were they indicative of the way he improved as the year went on. He can match Wall for pace and receive the ball for the open jumper, or drive to the basket himself.

When Speaking to HoopsWorld.com, Beal was excited about the prospect of teaming up with Wall:

I love to get up and down, pressure on defense and get after the offense on the fast break, so I think that he (Wall) would be a pretty good guy to play with.

Pick and Roll Variants

When playing in the Summer League, we saw Beal used in different ways, but he got a couple of looks as the primary ball-handler, running the pick and roll. He showed a lot of talent for both setting up a teammate and taking it to the basket himself. This is only something that will only improve when he combines with Wall.

In the NBA, quick decision-making will perhaps be a player’s best asset. Even with all the talent in the world, it’s easy to become swamped by the pace of the game and the expanse of the playbook.

Beal is capable of coming off a baseline screen, taking the ball and moving into a pick and roll—making quick decisions and bossing the play.

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The Wizards have lacked this ability in a shooting guard for a while and it should immediately pay dividends for them. Opposition defenses know all about the threat of Wall, so the addition of Beal to the lineup adds an extra dimension when running offensive plays.

Prior to—and after—the Wizards selected Beal in the draft, BulletsForever.com ran a comprehensive piece on how to best utilize Beal’s talents with the Wizards’ lineup.

Using data from CBSSports.com shot charts—and videos from 2011 Wizards plays—the article cited the decoy pick and roll and double screens from the horns set, easing Beal into the NBA with open jump shots from the top of the arc.

Beal is effective in space with or without the ball, so he can stretch the floor for Wall as well as providing an extra shooting threat on pick-and-roll variants. It’s this type of designed play that will help him early on in his career.

Control Games from the Outset

Washington allowed 98.4 points per game last year, while only scoring 93. The cause for hope came from the six-game win streak it enjoyed at the end of the year.

Yes, it may have been dead time for a lot of teams, but over the last three games the Wizards put up an average of 100.3 points per game (good for fourth in the NBA) and conceded 76 (first, via TeamRankings.com).

This is the future that the Wizards are aiming for. The veteran presence of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza gives the team a stout defensive mindset, as well as a further change in the locker-room culture.

The fitness of Nene remains a necessity for low-post success—the team went 7-4 with him in the lineup—but Wall is the player on whom Washington has its future pinned. The addition of Beal gives him another player with good instincts for the game and a quick mind.

Despite being just 19, Beal’s on-court demeanor is impeccable. He doesn’t get rattled and shows no visible signs of frustration should his shooting go awry. In the Summer League, he showed that he is just as happy setting up his teammates as he his shooting the ball.

This sort of versatility allows a team to run multiple variations on offense, without getting tied down to a pattern by the opposition. It’s unrealistic to expect NBA defenses to fall for the same play many times over, so the offense needs variation to make the best use of each possession.

Too often last year, the Wizards were chasing a large deficit by the fourth quarter. This is partly because the offensive plays would become predictable, inevitably leading to turnovers or speculative efforts for three.

As a result of having little support, Wall would try to do too much, again leading to turnovers or contested pull-up jumpers. The pace and versatility of Beal means that Wall has the perfect counterpoint to his own explosiveness.

With a Wall-Beal combination, the Wizards can take control of games in the first quarter with quick points and build up a lead they can defend. From there, they can run the game their own way, setting screens and running decoys that utilize the whole court and stretch the play.

A team is never in control of the game when chasing a deficit. Beal gives the Wizards an extra dimension on the court that allows them to widen the playbook, compete for possession and ultimately win more games.

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