It wasn’t too long ago when the Washington Wizards were the laughing stock of the NBA, but those days will not be returning for a long time. After two straight appearances in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Washington Wizards had a very disappointing season last year. The Wizards had a very talented team, so missing the playoffs with a 41-41 record was a far cry from meeting expectations. Washington brought head coach Scott Brooks to town and used their salary cap space to add a few talented players in the off-season, but a familiar face is still expected to be the X-factor for the team this season.
While everyone knows that John Wall is the most talented player on the team, the Wizards’ most important player is actually Bradley Beal. Despite playing in the league for four seasons, Beal is still only 23 years old. Few players in the NBA have the talent of Beal, but he has never been able to reach his potential due to various injuries. Beal has rarely been healthy during his NBA career, but he has still managed to average 16 points a game. He has also shown a lot of versatility by getting nearly four rebounds and three assists each game from the shooting guard position.
Beal’s impact on the Washington Wizards was on display for most of the 2015-16 NBA season. He was only able to start a total of 35 games the entire season, and the Wizards struggled to win games while he was out. The Wizards had a much healthier Bradley Beal the two previous seasons and they were able to put on a solid performance in the playoffs.
The team is much better off when John Wall does not have to be the leading scorer, so Bradley Beal is the only player the Washington Wizards want averaging more than 20 points a game this season. While he has never been able to reach this lofty scoring goal during the regular season, Beal has proved he is easily capable of putting the team on his back. When he was healthy and playing on the biggest stage of his young career, Bradley Beal averaged 21.2 points in 21 playoff games.
Wizards fans may not agree with their team resigning Bradley Beal to a huge contract in the offseason, but you can’t dwell on the past. The Wizards paid Beal to be the other superstar they pair with John Wall for the foreseeable future. This was a risky move due to Beal’s injury history, but he clearly has the talent to help an NBA team win a lot of games. If Bradley Beal can work his ‘Blue Magic’ and finally stay healthy for most of the season, and Brooks can work his coaching magic like he did in Oklahoma City, then it would not be shocking to see the Wizards become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.