What Bradley Beal's Prolonged Absence Means for the Washington Wizards

Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2013

Bradley Beal, who is missing his fourth game Monday night, has been a huge part of the Wizards this season. The rookie is leading Washington in minutes and points per game.
Bradley Beal, who is missing his fourth game Monday night, has been a huge part of the Wizards this season. The rookie is leading Washington in minutes and points per game.Rob Carr/Getty Images

With Bradley Beal out again tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Washington Wizards continue to miss one of the most important players on their roster.

Beal, who leads the team in minutes and points per game, has been out since March 3 with an ankle sprain.  

This season, the Wizards have been 3-7 without Beal in the lineup. If he is out for any longer, Washington is going to see some serious problems arise.

For one, there is no depth at shooting guard now with Beal down. Garrett Temple has been getting the majority of the minutes at shooting guard with Beal out, and has struggled on offense. On Saturday’s win over the Charlotte Bobcats, Temple went 1-of-4, scoring two points in 23 minutes.

The Wizards have had to rely on Temple, who hasn’t produced this season. Outside of Temple and Beal, there's no one on the roster who could start at shooting guard.

Temple only averages 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds per game on the season. Temple doesn’t do much on defense, either, only averaging 1.6 defensive rebounds per game.

Until Beal comes back, the Wizards will have to live with Temple in the starting lineup, who isn't worth more than a few minutes per game.

With Beal out, the Wizards have had to rely on John Wall more and more for offensive production.

Wall has done a great job at point guard this season. But he isn’t the type of player who can dominate a game.

In their win against the Bobcats, small forward Trevor Ariza was the top scorer, coming off of the bench with 26 points. Of the players who started the game, small forward Martell Webster had the next-highest point total with 20.

Washington is missing a huge chunk of offense, as Beal averages 14.2 points per game this season. If he were healthy, the starting lineup would be more productive, and the Wizards would rely less on their bench players.

With more bench players getting time, and with no Beal to give the offense consistency, the Wizards have been plagued with turnovers.

In their loss on Wednesday, their first game without Beal, Washington had a total of 24 turnovers, 17 of which came in the first three quarters

That number is sure to go down with Beal in the lineup. Beal only gives up an average of 1.5 turnovers per game, while Wall averages 3.6 and center Nené averages 2.5.

Beal has also worked well with Wall in the backcourt, and the lack of chemistry surely is hurting the Wizards. Even in Saturday’s win, Washington still gave up 16 turnovers.

Without Beal, the Wizards are lacking some solid leadership on and off the court. While Wall has been around for longer, there is no doubt that Beal has had a positive impact on the team this year. He was a captain at Florida and was the leader of the team earlier in the year when Wall was out with injury.

The inexperienced Wizards could use that leadership right now, especially as the losses continue to pile up and the season draws to a close. It might become easier for players to give up rather than continue to fight, and Beal brings that fight to the court every night.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Washington misses Beal’s overall scoring the most. His average is just under 15 points per game, but Beal has the ability to score in chunks and can have a huge game any given night.

Beal has already had games this season of 22, 23, 24 and 26 points. It’s nice to have Ariza stepping out with Beal out, but there is no doubt Washington’s chances of winning improve any time that Beal takes the court.

Although Beal’s injury isn’t too serious, Washington’s season is lost, so it’s unlikely the team will want to rush Beal back onto the court.

This makes sense. It protects the future of the team.

But without Beal in the lineup, the Wizards are going to struggle and will rely heavily on Wall and co. to make up for his absence.