John Wall and Bradley Beal Are NBA's Next Star Backcourt
Both possess unique individual talent in their own right but, together, the duo has the potential to be, with chemistry and the opportunity to develop, the next great backcourt in the NBA.
The Wizards struck gold with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft when they landed Beal, a 6'3" shooting guard who has already drawn comparisons to Ray Allen. Beal is slightly undersized for his position, but he has a textbook stroke (37.4 percent from three-point range this season) and he also happens to be an above-average rebounder for a player of his height.
Wall was widely regarded as the best player in the 2010 draft class, but the 22-year-old point guard has yet to truly realize that potential.
He is, however, vital to both the current and long-term success of the Wizards, who looked completely lost without him earlier this year. While Wall was nursing a stress fracture in his left patella at the beginning of the season, Washington endured losing streaks of eight and 12 games.
Since Wall's return, the Wizards have won 14 of their past 25 games and the word "putrid" no longer applies to the the team's offense. According to 82games.com, the Wizards are 10.2 points better per 100 possessions with Wall on the court, as opposed to the minutes he rides the bench.
Wall's arrival energized both the team as a whole, as well as standout draft pick Beal. It's not a coincidence that Beal was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the second month in a row after Wall returned to the lineup in early January.
"The game has slowed down," said Beal in an interview with Jason Reid of the Washington Post. "I'm making better reads."
As great as the first month of 2013 was for Beal, February was even better for the University of Florida star, as he logged 17.5 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game, 1.3 steals per game, 48.1 field goal percentage. Barring an epic collapse, Beal is all but certain to earn first-team All-Rookie honors.
"The fact that people are starting to notice what I'm capable of doing, yeah, I like that," said Beal.
Wall and Beal complement one another like peanut butter and jelly. Wall's quickness and court vision create plenty of spot-up opportunities for Beal and the rookie's ability to consistently knock down 20-footers gives Wall more room to operate in the halfcourt set, giving them a symbiotic relationship that creates matchup nightmares for opposing teams on defense.
The ever-growing chemistry between the Wizards' backcourt mates has also spread to the rest of the team. Whenever Wall and Beal are on the court simultaneously, the Wizards shoot nearly 48 percent as a group, convert more than 43 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc and average 101.2 points per 100 possessions.
In terms of Net Rating (points scored per 100 possessions less points allowed per 100 possessions), the Wizards' lineup of Wall/Beal/Martell Webster/Nene/Emeka Okafor is the fifth-best in the NBA. As a unit, they grab 56.4 percent of all rebounds (the sixth-best mark for any five-man rotation in the league) and are limiting opponents to an effective field-goal percentage (eFG) of just 37.4 percent.
John Wall: "We got three stars: me, Brad and Nene." #wizards— HELLO my name is (@JohnCTownsend) February 24, 2013
There's still an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed, however. Wall has a very suspect jumper (he's shooting 28 percent from outside of 10 feet this season) and, unless he goes to great lengths to improve his mid-range game, the Wall and Beal tandem will reach their ceiling rather quickly.
Then again, Wall is only 22 years old and Beal, 19, is years away from his prime. The two figure to grow together. The Wizards would be foolish to let either walk, as each player should serve as sort of an anchor for the other. Barring an injury personality conflict, Washington should have one of the league's best backcourts for the better part of a decade.
After years of questionable draft picks (Kwame Brown, Jarvis Hayes, Juan Dixon) and even more questionable coaching hires (Leonard Hamilton, Gar Heard), the Wizards may have finally figured it out.
With Wall and Beal leading the charge, a franchise that has endured nothing but darkness over the past three decades now has the makings of a bright and promising future.
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