Let’s Get Bradley Beal Into the All-Star Game
With the news of Kevin Love missing up to six weeks after undergoing minor surgery in his left knee, there is currently an opening in the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. There are a lot of players that come to mind when I look at who was left off of the team, but one really stands out: Bradley Beal.
The Wizards are playing great basketball right now. They are third in the Eastern Conference, winning 9 of their last ten games, with the only loss in that span being a 140–135 slug out with the Cavs. Beal had 41 points on 16–28 shooting in that loss to the Cavs and was the best player on the court for most the game. This has been an amazing year for Beal, who has always showed signs of being an All-Star caliber player, but has been plagued by injuries. This year Beal has played 50-of-54 games, and is averaging a career best 22 points while shooting almost 40 percent from beyond the arch.
In his fifth year Beal is shooting almost 53% from two point range, and is getting to the line more than he has at any point in his career. It’s nice to see Beal play more aggressively, giving the Wizards another playmaking option when Wall is off of the court. Let’s not get it twisted though, it’s the barrage of three pointers that makes Beal indispensable to the Wizards. Beal is taking more than two more three pointers per 36 minutes than his career average.
To the casual NBA fan John Wall is the name that comes to mind when you talk about the Wizards. Wall is having a career defining season in his own right, but it’s the elevation of Beal’s game that has gotten my attention. There may not be a more exciting backcourt in the league. They complement each other perfectly, Wall can get to the basket any time he pleases, and with Beal keeping defenses honest beyond the arc, opposing teams have no good options. Bradley’s game has unleashed Wall to have the MVP caliber season he is currently having, and has made the Wizards a winning, and extremely entertaining to watch team.
There are a lot of players in the East that would make for great All-Star game entertainment. Unfortunately for players like Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker, injuries are going to keep them out of the game. Nothing would have made me happier than seeing an ecstatic Joel Embiid ripping off crazy dunks and taking 30 foot threes on Sunday, but fate deemed it not to be so. Hopefully Embiid will still grace us with some quality social media moments over All-Star Weekend.
You could make a good argument for Goran Dragic to be in the game, he’s playing the best basketball of his 13 year career, averaging 20 points and six assists, while leading the Heat to one of the more unlikely winning streaks in recent memory. Dragic’s 19.4 PER is just .2 behind Beal, but this is a situation in which I am more inclined to give the All-Star nod to a player on a winning team. The Heat are still eight games under .500 even after their 13 game winning streak.
The Love injury has much larger implications than who plays in the All-Star game. The Wizards are only five games behind the Cavs in the standings. The Eastern Conference still belongs to LeBron James, but for the first time in almost a decade the door has opened for a Kingless team to take the number one seed. If Beal can stay healthy the Washington Wizards have a shot at the one seed. That’s how important he is to this team, and that’s what makes him worthy of being an All-Star.