And not solely on the court. The second-year stud also happens to be an avid gamer—perhaps the most avid on a Washington Wizards team full of them. Beal got to indulge his love of video games this week at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, as one of the fortunate few chosen to test-drive Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the latest installment in Actvision's blockbuster franchise.
Beal took some time to speak to Bleacher Report by phone about his virtual proclivities, his partnership with All-Star guard John Wall and more.
Bleacher Report: How did you get involved with Activision and Call of Duty?
Bradley Beal: At first, I was like, "I’m not a big fan of shooting games," and then I gave it a shot in high school and I’m definitely happy I took that leap of faith, so to speak, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since.
BR: Have you had a chance to play the newest one? If so, what’d you think of it?
BB: Yeah, I just got done playing it. I must say, it’s definitely something to see. I can’t wait to get my hands on an actual copy and be a cave man, lock myself in a room and play it for hours.
BR: Would you consider yourself the biggest gamer on the Wizards?
BB: I think so. We’ve got a couple on the team who are huge gamers, but I think, when it comes to games like this, man, I think I’m definitely at the top of the list.
BR: Who else on the Wizards is big into video games?
BB: John Wall plays a lot of video games. Glen Rice [Jr.]. Trevor Ariza. Pretty much the whole team does. It gets really competitive, too, when we play each other.
BR: Which games do you guys usually play together?
BB: If it’s not Call of Duty, we get to play [NBA] 2K or Madden or something like that. We go to each other’s houses and we play ‘em and sometimes make tournaments out of ‘em. It definitely gets competitive.
BR: Who’s the best at NBA 2K on the Wizards?
BB: Oh, you know, I’m gonna selfishly say myself. We’ve got a lot of guys who are good, man. I’m not even gonna lie to you. It’s always up in the air, but I’ve perfected my craft a lot in the offseason, so I’ll be a lot better.
BR: Who do you play as when you’re playing 2K?
BB: I usually play as the Wizards, for one, but if I don’t play with the Wizards, I play with probably New York, the Knicks. Just shoot the ball, shoot it with Melo [Carmelo Anthony] every time.
BR: Good call. What role do you think video games can play as a tool for team bonding?
BB: I think it’s huge, especially for us. It helped us out a lot because we’re a young team, so it makes it easier for us to connect and bond together. Off-court, that bonding experience, that’s an easy way to do it. Get to know guys, just go to someone’s house and just play games and just get to know each other, everything like that. I think that’s probably the easiest way to do it, and I think we did a great job of doing that this year. Hopefully, we can continue to do that if we don’t continue to get old.
BR: What’d you guys learn about yourselves as a team during this year’s playoffs?
BB: I think we learned that we can be a pretty good team in the future. I think we did a great job, for one, in the offseason, signing Coach Witt [Randy Wittman] back because he has a great system that we’re a part of. But I think this whole season, we definitely have something that we can build off of just in terms of what we’re capable of, how far we made it. But now we have to set those goals even higher as a team and get better individually and as a team moving forward. So we’re definitely looking forward to it and, hopefully, next year we can be in the same position, if not step right on up.
BR: What’d you learn about yourself specifically from these playoffs?
BB: I think for me, the biggest thing that I learned is that this is what it’s all about and it’s fun. At the end of the day, it’s all about trying to win games, trying to win championships. It helps you realize that you’re fortunate to be in that position because some guys don’t even make it to the playoffs. I think just embracing that moment and living in that moment each and every time that you step on that floor is crucial. Just taking it one game at a time and knowing that you have to bring your attention and your A-game to every game.
BR: Have there been moments for you, particularly in these past playoffs, where you’ve surprised yourself with what you’ve been able to do against some of the best basketball players in the world?
BB: Yeah, I believe so. But at the same time, I expect myself to do that. I put the pressure on myself to be able to do those things. There were a lot of big plays that I made throughout the playoffs, and as a team we made big plays, but I think there are definitely a few plays that really caught me by surprise, and sometimes I was like, "Did I really just do that? Did I really just make that shot? Did I really just get that steal?" Things I would never picture myself doing. Things I would just be at home watching somebody else do.
BR: Any of those plays in particular come to mind?
BB: I think the biggest one that I’ll always remember is in the closeout game Indiana had against us at home. I took the rebound out of Roy Hibbert’s hand. We were down two in the fourth. I dribbled down the court and hit a three to put us up one. I remember how electric the crowd was, and like, after I made the shot, I had no idea what to do or how to celebrate in some type of fashion, so it was definitely a big moment for me in my playoff career.
BR: Everyone knows or at least has an idea that you’re a good shooter, but what do you think are some of the strengths of your game beyond that that people haven’t seen or should know about?
BB: I think I’m doing a better job of reading pick-and-rolls, just in terms of if a big wants to double me or hedge out pretty hard, I do a pretty good job of getting my teammates involved and making the right play out of the pick-and-roll because I think that’s the biggest adjustment I made from last year to this year. Just handling the ball, being a great secondary ball-handler with John [Wall] and being able to dish it off to my teammates.
BR: Do you expect to do more ball-handling next season?
BB: Most definitely, whether it’s me playing a little bit of point guard, letting John play the 2 and just being that combo guard that I wanna be or whatever it takes, man. I’m just gonna continue to improve my game in all areas because nothing is perfect and ball-handling would definitely be No. 1.
BR: What are some of your other personal priorities for improvement this summer?
BB: My mid-range shooting. I know it’s kind of a lost art, but to be able to perfect that, I think it would create a lot of havoc for the defense, just in terms of me getting into the lane, whether it’s me shooting a runner or a floater or being able to make the right play in the lane or having a nice little pull-up. I’m just gonna continue to improve that and always continue my shooting off the dribble and on both ends of the floor. Continue to improve my lateral quickness for defensive purposes and continue to polish up on everything.
BR: John Wall was recently asked if he thought there was a better backcourt in the NBA than you and him. He said, “Not in my opinion.” Do you agree with him?
BB: A hundred percent. I agree with him 100 percent because we both know what we’re capable of doing and we’re just testing the waters. We’re just getting started. We’re just showing people what we’re capable of doing, and I think each and every year, we’re gonna continue to get better. We push each other in the offseason to continue to be the best that we can possibly be.
Once we both get going, that makes our team better. I think as long as we continue to have that mindset and that confidence and that swag knowing that we’re the best backcourt in the league, I think that’ll help us out mentally. We have to continue to keep that swagger and continue to impress people.
BR: What’s that relationship like between you and John?
BB: It’s terrific, but it’s competitive at the same time. We both help each other out. We both give each other tips and pointers, whether I’m teaching him something about shooting, or whether he’s teaching me something about ball-handling and making reads. I think we both help each other. We both hold each other accountable for things. If I’m messing up, he gets on my case. If he’s messing up, I’ll try to say something to him. We have that brotherly bond that we need. I think that helps us both get better.
BR: What’s it like for you to play with a guy like John who’s so quick and so athletic and can see the floor the way he does?
BB: It’s terrific. It makes my job easy. All I have to do is just run the floor and find a way to get open and he’ll find me, even if it’s the last minute. Being able to play with a point guard like that and spacing the floor out gives him an opportunity to create for everybody and create for himself. Whenever you have a guy who’s able to pass the ball like that, it makes the team great.
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