Breaking Down Everything NBA Fans Need to Know About Star Rookie Bradley Beal

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 22: John Wall #2 and Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards celebrate during the closing seconds of the Wizards 119-113 win over Denver Nuggets at Verizon Center on February 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Washington Wizards rookie Bradley Beal was thrust into the lion's cage as soon as he first stepped foot on an NBA court.

John Wall wouldn't join him until mid-January and Nenê wouldn't see his first minute of NBA action until mid-November, and he wouldn't start a game until deep into December. So, his running mates on offense were the likes of A.J. Price, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Booker, with Jordan Crawford coming off the bench.

Of those players, only four remain on the Wizards, and none of them score more per game than Beal does.

In other words, from day one he was expected to score for the Wiz, and it was very rough going from the get-go.

Just two games went by before Beal realized what was expected of him, so he started shooting. Whether they were falling or not, whether he wanted to take them or not, somebody on this forsaken team had to try to muster some sort of offense, and that generally fell on Beal.

I'll stop short of calling it brave, but it was an impressive task for a rookie to take on, especially for a team that wouldn't win its first game until November 28, nearly 30 days after the first game of the season.

Beal has tromped up the rookie stairs month-by-month, continually improving and impressing Wizards fans along the way, as they learned little bits and pieces about their cherished rookie as well.

He started out in Missouri, playing high school ball in St. Louis and racking up honors along the way. Beal was named Mr. Show-Me Basketball and the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year.

The awards kept coming in college, where he was named SEC Freshman of the Week five times for the Florida Gators, and was named to the First Team All-SEC as a freshman. Naturally he decided the NBA made more sense sooner rather than later.

Beal made waves as a hot-shooting guard with tenacious defense and a scout-perfect shooting form, driving all the teams at the top of the draft to salivating over what many were calling a potential Ray Allen-type player.

Over and over again we watched footage of Beal stroking shots from deep in that Gators jersey, and it was a foregone conclusion that he would be one of the top picks after Anthony Davis was off the board.

The Wizards drafted him third overall, and along the way they learned that he not only had a sweet shot, but a strange sense of humor as well.

Asked @realdealbeal23 what he would change his name to if he could (i.e. ochocinco Metta World Peace) he said Batman. Best. Answer. Ever.

— Casey Phillips (@caseyreporting) September 25, 2012

Beal struggled as the weeks wore on, shooting under 34 percent from the floor as November faded and snow started to fall.

December was nicer to the young shooter, and even though he was slightly inefficient he was watching his numbers rise and his shots fall more often. For his efforts he was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December, despite just four wins to that point with Washington.

Suddenly John Wall came back and things started to flow nicely for the Wizards. Beal had to handle the ball less, he found himself open more often and the butterflies disappeared from his stomach.

Since that return Beal is averaging 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and just under a block and a steal per game, but the real improvement has come in terms of efficiency.

Looking at his season-long percentages is gut-wrenching, as he's still toiling below the 40 percent mark.

However, he's shooting 46 percent from the field since Wall's return and an astonishing 47.6 percent from the three-point line.

While the season wears on, Washington won't find itself in any kind of playoff race, and any wins the Wizards scratch across will actually be detrimental in the long run. Yet it's hard to watch this team that was 4-28 at one point and not root for them. 

They're 14-9 since January 7, including seven wins in the past nine games, and things are looking up—not for this season, but for the future altogether.