Brad Beal, No. 3 (Mock Draft)
The Wizards select the top 2-guard to run with John Wall.
by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Two years ago, Wizards fans were elated to land the top pick in the Draft, which brought Kentucky frosh John Wall to Washington, along with a tidal wave of hype. Since Wall first stepped foot in the nation’s capital, though, the team’s only “progress” has been to bid good riddance to once-promising jokesters Javale McGee, Nick Young and (lord willing) Andray Blatche. All three may yet be success stories in the League, but it wasn’t working in Washington.
That’s right: Two years into John Wall’s NBA career and the Wizards, for all intents and purposes, are no better off—back atop the Draft, hoping to find a proper young running mate for JW (sorry, Jan). Credit the Wiz for clearing knuckleheads and cap space in recent months. But remember it was a mess Washington itself created, marking the second time the Wizards have had to clean up, well, “poo” in recent years. Thank Gilbert Arenas for the first.
Assuming Blatche is on the outs this summer, Wall will be the longest tenured Wizard at season’s open. Without question, his third-year development will mean more to the Wizards than any ’12 Draft pick, both in the immediate and long-term. But giving him a sidekick with a shot at making his life easier is critical. And with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist off the board, the man with the best “shot” should be the selection.
With the third pick of the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Washington Wizards select…
Bradley Beal from Florida.
The debate has already begun amongst Wizards fans, with three players in the mix at No. 3: Kidd-Gilchrist (should he be available), Thomas Robinson and Beal. And frankly, none would be a disappointment. Anthony Davis would have been a better haul, but given the presumed group of remaining options in this year’s Draft class, Wiz nuts should be excited. Odds are, MKG, Robinson or Beal will don a Washington cap on Draft night—and all would represent a massive upgrade at their position.
With the Kentucky swingman already spoken for, though, the decision comes down to Robinson vs Beal.
Andre Drummond’s freakish athleticism will certainly be a consideration, but given the trade-deadline acquisition of Nene, the development of Kevin Seraphin and my general fear of Drummond’s raw game, it’s best we pray Ernie Grunfeld, Randy Wittman and company aren’t salivating at his personal workouts. More importantly, John Wall himself wants a shooting guard or forward—he flat out said as much in a recent interview.
NBA players might make terrible, terrible GMs (Dwight Howard wanted Gilbert Arenas, Stephen Jackson and Big Baby on his team, remember?), but it seems abundantly clear what Wall is asking for: help on the wing.
“I think you need a 2-guard, a 2- or 3-guard, especially another 2 or 3 to come in and bring a lot of energy,” he told Comcast Sports Net Washington. “I think you’ve got the big man position where we need it at, so I think just between a 2 and 3, we’d be good.”
Granted, Wall’s relative satisfaction with the Wiz frontcourt is no reason to pass on Robinson should management deem him the more talented player, since the men in red, white and blue are as talent-starved as any team in the L, no matter the glut of youthful big men (Seraphin, Vesely, Booker) that has shown flashes over the past year. Robinson would provide toughness, grit, rebounding and finishing ability, plus has the upside to develop into Antonio McDyess—the ’98-01 version—or some kind of crazy Derrick Williams-Al Horford hybrid.
But Beal’s the guy.
You’ll hear questions about his height, which is tabbed at between 6-3 and 6-5 depending on who you talk to. You’ll hear criticism about his three-point shooting percentage over his freshman year at Florida, which settled a shade under 34 percent. Maybe you’re not a fan of his average ballhandling skills.
The fact remains: Beal, who will celebrate his 19th birthday on Draft night, is the top shooting guard in this year’s class, and he would do wonders for a Wizards team that has struggled at times to convert even the most wide-open looks from Wall the past two seasons.
In high school, Beal was named 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 32.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as a senior at Missouri’s Chaminade Prep. He picked up the MVP award at the ’10 FIBA Under-17s with the USA squad, then First-Team All-SEC in his lone season as a Gator.
And while his 14.8 ppg at UF might not blow you away, the kid’s got a stroke as smooth as any in the NBA—which has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen—and his range extends comfortably out to pro three-point range. The hell with his disappointing percentages in school; I dare you to look up his YouTube reels, watch that form and not believe he’ll be a knockdown shooter in the League.
He rebounds well for a guard (6.7 boards per game last year) thanks to a strong frame that can stand up to the physical beating 2-guards take at the next level. He defends hard, works hard, is mature beyond his years and has an above-average basketball IQ. He will become a reliable option for Wall, whether in the halfcourt or on the break. And he might even pass the ball back every once in a while—sorry Swaggy P. Not unlike MKG’s, Beal’s drive and attitude couldn’t be more anti-Wizards of the recent past, which is perfect.
Beal is confident enough to step in right away and score, taking pressure of Wall and making up one heck of a backcourt for the future in DC.
He described himself in one recent radio interview as having Allen’s shooting touch and Dwyane Wade’s driving ability. If he’s even three-quarters of that mind-boggling combination, the Wizards will have hit the jackpot.
The Wizards are a team in need of just about everything right now, but snapping up a shooter with pedigree, poise and an all-around pro-ready game with the third pick is a good start.
Some will call for Robinson, still others for Drummond or Harrison Barnes. And given the surplus of options available at No. 3, what the Wizards do will have ripple effects right down through the rest of the Lottery. With any luck, Beal with have an equally large impact in Washington.
|2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft|