Bradley Beal on Dropping 29 Points in Return to Wizards: 'You All Know Who I Am'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 31, 2021

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) reacts after he scored a basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Washington. The Wizards won 110-93. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

Nothing much more needed to be said after Bradley Beal dropped 29 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in the Washington Wizards' 110-93 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.

"I know who I am," Beal said, per The Athletic's Josh Robbins. "I’m confident in who I am. It’s kind of like what K.D. said (when he said) ‘I’m Kevin Durant.’ I’m Bradley Beal. You all know who I am. You all know what I’m capable of doing. Let me just go out and do that and have fun doing it."

The three-time All-Star had missed Washington's previous three games after entering the NBA's health and safety protocols. The team went 1-2 over that span.

In general, the 2021-22 season has been somewhat below the standard Beal set over the past few years. He's averaging 23.5 points, down from 31.3 in 2020-21 and 30.5 in 2019-20. His 28.7 percent clip on three-pointers is on pace to be a career low as well.

But Thursday was a reminder of how the 6'3" guard is capable of torching an opposing defense on any given night.

Getting Beal back more to his peak could have big implications for the Wizards. 

They sit 21st in offensive rating (108.1), per NBA.com, and that number is bound to improve if their best player becomes a more efficient scorer and playmaker.

Washington might also be able to climb out of a play-in position. Beal's squad is 18-17 and eighth in the Eastern Conference but only trails the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers by one game. The Cleveland Cavaliers, two games up in fifth place, might see their results take a turn for the worse following Ricky Rubio's season-ending torn ACL.

Should the Wizards finish with a winning record for the first time since 2017-18 and advance past the first round of the playoffs, it could then influence Beal's future beyond this year. 

He has a $36.4 million player option for 2022-23, so it seems plausible he could opt out in search of a bigger payout. The odds of him staying in Washington, D.C., are probably higher now than they were before this season.

If the 28-year-old winds up hitting the open market, he'll be one of the most sought-after free agents because, in his own words, his reputation precedes him.