John Wall's knee injury has sent a jolt through the projected starting lineup for the Washington Wizards. As the team prepares to make its preseason debut Sunday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, they should see if rookie and No. 3 overall pick Bradley Beal is capable of running the point-guard position.
Wall is projected to miss eight weeks with his knee injury, which would put his timetable for return around the end of November, barring any setbacks.
Beal, the sharpshooter from Florida, has seen his fair share of ups and downs in his young career. He struggled somewhat in summer league, and there have already been questions of whether or not he can shoot the NBA three-pointer.
He's even doing his due diligence as a rookie right now, per the team's official Twitter account:
But that's all in good fun, and the vets know this guy is going to be a major contributor right away if they want to compete at a higher level than last season.
In the Eastern conference, this Wizards team doesn't have time to mess around with lineups that don't give it a chance to win.
Beal is a freshman, and it's going to take time for him to become the player the Wizards expect him to be at shooting guard. While they wait, though, it won't hurt to use some of that development at point guard, at least until their point guard of the future is ready to return.
Right now, Beal is projected to come off the bench behind surprise starter Jordan Crawford. A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack are projected to handle the point-guard duties in November, and Jannero Pargo figures to be in the mix as well.
A battle seems to be brewing between Crawford and Beal. But if those two are the best two guards on this team, why not play them together, in tandem?
As the Miami Heat have shown over the past two seasons, sometimes it's more about getting your best player on the court than clinging to the norm, no matter the lineup situation or what it means for traditional lineups.
Playing Beal at the point, while certainly unconventional and a logjam for the other competitors, makes sense in the short term.
If you look at the Washington offensive setup, they're certain to play more isolation, post-driven ball than most other teams. They have two big men that can change the course of a game in Nene and Emeka Okafor.
Trevor Ariza is another guy that can move without the ball and create his own shot. Crawford, while still raw as an NBA 2-guard, knows how to score the ball.
All in all, Beal wouldn't have to do anything more than create passing lanes with the dribble and reduce turnovers for this team. He would be a valuable spot-up shooter on a second- or third-swing pass, and could also break down the defense in pick-and-roll situations.
If Charlotte proves too much for Mack and Price on Sunday night, Randy Wittman should look at Beal as an alternative, especially if he and Crawford are the lone bright spots on the evening.
Position versatility can be huge in today's NBA. Should Wall get injured again, the Wizards would then have another option to run the offense.
Of course, you run the risk of somewhat stunting Beal's growth as a shooting guard. But if Crawford is your guy there, a month of Beal being on the court in a big role, no matter what that role is, is just as beneficial as making him watch in a reserve role at the position from which he's been projected to star.