Bradley Beal Drops 36 in Wizards' Win over Trae Young, Hawks

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 05:  Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards drives between John Collins #20 and Alex Len #25 of the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on December 5, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 131-117, on Wednesday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

Bradley Beal led the way for Washington with 36 points, nine assists and six rebounds. All-Star John Wall did not play in the game because of personal reasons.

Trae Young had 14 points and five assists for Atlanta in a losing effort.

     

Bradley Beal Proves He Is Wizards' Most Valuable Trade Piece

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 05:  Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards reacts after hitting a basket against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on December 5, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If the Wizards are looking to reshape their roster in the midst of a disappointing start, Beal could be the key.

He proved that once again against Atlanta.

Playing without five-time All-Star Wall, Washington quickly turned Wednesday's game into a laugher, leading by as many as 25 in the first half. That's because Beal (21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and four assists in the first half) was on top of his game.

Atlanta cut the deficit down to five in the fourth, but ultimately, Young and Co. couldn't complete the comeback.

Sure, the 5-20 Hawks may not be the toughest competition—but this isn't a one-game sample, either. The Wizards caught fire last year when Wall was sidelined by a knee injury, winning 11 of their first 14 games without the star. During that span, Beal averaged 21.9 points and 6.4 assists per game.

Beal and Wall are now in their seventh year together, and while they have made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, they have never made it past the second round. And this year's rough start doesn't appear to bode well for them.

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But the adversity hasn't been limited to only games, either. Last month, Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported the Wizards had a "volatile practice" that featured "verbal altercations." Beal was reportedly right in the middle of things then.

"I've been dealing with this for seven years," an "exasperated" Beal told team officials, per Charania.

The 25-year-old shooting guard did not request a trade at the time, though, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. That doesn't mean the organization shouldn't explore his market, though.

There's no question both Beal and Wall have the talent to be a game-changer anywhere they go. However, their respective contracts make their trade values significantly different. Beal is making $25.4 million this season and is owed nearly $56 million over the next two seasons, per Spotrac. Meanwhile, Wall is making a reasonable $19.2 million this season—but his salary is set to spike next year. The 28-year-old is owed a hefty $122.4 million from 2019 to '22 and has a $46.9 million player option for 2022-23, per Spotrac.

Moving either Beal or Wall could take some work from a financial standpoint. But given Beal's deal will be far less of a burden, that makes him a more attractive trade target for teams in need of help. Not to mention the fact that he has shown he doesn't mind playing second fiddle on a team with an established star.

The Wall-Beal duo has kept Washington relevant in the Eastern Conference, but the Wizards have yet to seriously contend for a title with their current core. At some point, changes have to be made. With more performances like Wednesday night, Beal should only draw more interest on the trade market.

     

What's Next

Both teams will be back in action on Saturday. Washington (11-14) will continue its four-game road trip with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Atlanta (5-20) wraps up its three-game homestand against the Denver Nuggets.

     

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