Wizards fans have been touting shooting guard Bradley Beal as a future All-Star since he entered the league, and the young guard is starting to live up to those lofty expectations. Beal made some significant strides last season, raising his scoring average his scoring from 13.9 PPG to 17.1 PPG, improving his three-point percentage to over 40%, and elevating his game in the playoffs to help the Wizards score a first-round upset over the Chicago Bulls. Beal has shown that it a question of when, not if, he'll make his first All-Star team. But can he make his breakthrough this year?
Beal is definitely an All-Star talent, and if he can continue to improve his numbers he has a good chance of making his All-Star debut this season. While advanced statistics have become more and more popular and relevant in recent years, the fact remains that numbers such as points, rebounds and assists are what draw the eye of many fans. If Beal can improve his shot selection and become a more well-rounded and efficient shooter, he could average 20 PPG this season, with a possible uptick in rebounds and assists as well. If he can put up 20, 4 and 4, he'll have the kind of stats that fans attribute to All-Star worthiness.
Beal will also benefit from the increased exposure the Wizards will receive next season. The Wizards will play on national TV ten times, including on Christmas Day, meaning that fans across the country will be able to actually watch Beal and the Wizards rather than just hear about them. Playing on national TV for a likely playoff contender will help push Beal into the national spotlight and will give him an advantage over guards from small-market teams.
Another factor working in Beal's favor is the lack of depth at shooting guard. Shooting guard is the weakest and most shallow position in the NBA, lacking the big-name stars of small forward or point guard. It can be argued that Beal is already a top-10 shooting guard, and easily top-5 in the East. With young stars like James Harden and Klay Thompson and veterans like Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili currently residing in the Western Conference, its much easier to break through in the East.
One thing that could hold Beal back is the lack of All-Star roster space designated for shooting guards. Last year three shooting guards were selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team; Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, and first-timer DeMar DeRozan. Wade, a veteran and fan favorite, is a virtual lock if he stays healthy and posts solid numbers, likely leaving two spots left over. And just because shooting guard is more shallow than other positions doesn't mean it lacks talent. Johnson won't match the numbers that Beal and others will likely post, but he's a veteran and a 7-time All-Star, and those type of players always have a voting advantage. DeRozan posted strong numbers last season, but the Raptors's lack of exposure could allow other guards to overtake him. Lance Stephenson posted All-Star caliber numbers with the Pacers last season and will play with a chip on his shoulder. Dion Waiters will see a decrease in usage but could compensate with an increase in efficiency now that he's playing with LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving. A young guard like Victor Oladipo could make a leap. An All-Star berth for Beal is realistic but hardly a given.
Despite his competition, Beal has a lot working in his favor. He should have All-Star caliber stats while playing for a playoff team, and the Wizards' TV schedule will help push him into the limelight. If everything pans out, Wizards fans could see Beal join John Wall as an Eastern Conference All-Star, lending strength to those best back court in the league arguments.
Is Beal ready to become an All-Star this season? Drop a comment and get the conversation started!
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