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Progressive Panda: Bradley Beal Is Ready For An All-Star Season

When thinking of the various aspects of basketball that make the sport great, different folks have different strokes. For one person it could be the excruciating dunks like when LeBron plays. A guy my age may at one point in his mid-90s life loved watching the Hawks just to see Dikembe Mutumbo turn basketballs into souvenirs for the second row with every block. How thrilling was a hustling Dennis Rodman in mid-air full plank position stretching to save a ball from going out of bounds?

But if you’re me, it’s the artistry of shooting the basketball and its countless varieties that get me weak. From the science behind it to the success of making shots from any range, all of these things molded together and you’ve got my heart. In fact, I can even offer you a strong basketball confession of mine, come here.

*Whispers* I really enjoy volume shooters. Like. A lot. They are my favorite thing. Jordan Crawford? He was funny. Nick Young? A darling. Why are you looking at me that way? It’s a guilty pleasure leave me alone. You’re ugly.

Fine. Forget I told you that.

Now the main topic: For my guy Bradley Beal, the deft nature of his shooting – and thusly his ability to score – was the aspect of his game most talked about when scouting him as a draft prospect. Beal was just 19 years old and shot only 33% from 3PT range in his one year at Florida. But it was the foreseeable development in him that enticed the men in the Wizards war room back in June of 2012. Now, three years removed from those scouting reports, a lot can be said of Beal’s still-adolescent career. Here it is in a nutshell:

The stroke is surely sweet. Sweet enough to have me take a slow-mo shot of it during a practice last season. It’s an absolute work of art.

But the man’s been sorely inconsistent. Like, we’ll see him score 25+ on one night and then not see it happen again for two weeks. Part of his inconsistency speaks to the recurring leg injuries that have hindered him in each of his first three seasons. The rest of the blame rounds out to Beal’s refusal to be more aggressive toward the rim and the coaching staff’s inability to position him for better shots, specifically shots from downtown. A 3-point Shootout participant in his rookie season, Beal was left out of the festivities last season, primarily due to his lack of 3-point shot attempts and subsequently, the considerably lesser amount of makes than the other chosen participants.

But despite the recurring setbacks, Beal has STILL managed to play well enough to be engaged in serious talks of a lucrative contract extension, one that I personally believe he is qualified for and for reasons that I will now explain. Come closer, kids.

The Summer of Big Panda

If there is anything this Wizards offseason did for me it was strengthen my fanaticism for Bradley Beal and yearn even more for him to become a superstar. It started when the @NBA Twitter handle dropped of a video Brad destroying a workout.

Quicker ball-handling, fadeaways off the dribble, and step-back 3’s!? It was like Shredder fed a panda that ooze from the second Ninja Turtles movie and mutated him. Remember, greatness is molded by your work ethic, and unless that video was a hoax, I am looking forward to seeing #MutatedPanda terrorizing hardwood floors this season.

Last week, my man Jake Whitaker from Bullets Forever wrote about Beal’s intention to eliminate long 2’s by taking the ball to the rack more often. The reasons to rejoice over this news are aplenty since one of Beal’s strongest weaknesses was settling for bad jump shots instead of trying the lane. Also, the fact that Beal is understanding the adjustments he needs to make in order to help his game evolve is also very pleasing.

But will Brad really eliminate or even limit his long 2’s?

Why the doubt? Well, please note in Brad’s workout video that quite a few of the shots he took were those long 2’s he said he’d eliminate. Except also note that he was making those shots. And they were all pretty. He was finding spots on the floor with his dribble and pulling up wherever he felt comfortable. These are, you may know, typical things that innate shooters do. There’s no question that drawing it up for Beal to take more 3’s or encouraging him to be more aggressive towards the rim will get him to do so, but it won’t remove the idea in his head that he is a hard-wired shooter, and by that he expects to take and make any shot he feels he can make. The key: select the best ones, and start making them. Obviously.

I caught up with Beal at Wizards Media Day and explained that after all that we’ve seen from him, it’s time for him to make us a promise:

That he becomes an All-Star. He chuckled and said:

“That’s my goal, that’s my goal. Hopefully this is a big season for me. I gotta come out and have that same mentality that I had in the playoffs and just continue it into the season. It’s going to be good, I’m excited for it. I’m healthy and that was my biggest concern to stay healthy and just have fun.”

Pretty typical response but maybe he’s said all he needs to.

I then decided to shift gears a bit on topics and took it to Brad’s Instagram pic from a few days ago to ask him a random-ass question.

Good morning 😂😂

A photo posted by Bradley Beal (@bradbeal3) on

Realizing there’s no milk after pouring cereal into a bowl can be a devastating start to your day. But I decided to gauge Beal’s morning emotions a little further and see if there’s anything that could bother him even more than missing milk. I think I found just the thing.

Me: What’s a worse thing to happen in the morning, getting out the shower and realizing you forgot your towel or the cereal with no milk?

“That shower, man it be cold as hell. That’s tough.”

Me: But you want to make sure both don’t happen in the same morning, right?

“Oh no, fa sho.”

What if Don Trump became the Wizards new owner?

Now, I have zero intention of sparking any political backlash by using Don Trump as the butt of a joking question. That’s probably because I still haven’t settled into viewing Don Trump as anything but a world-renowned celebrity and real estate mogul who happens to be an asshole sometimes. Besides, Don Trump is fun and seeing the impression some of the players have of him is even more joyful.

So I asked Brad if Don Trump were to become the Wizards’ new owner, would he demand a trade or seek a max deal?

“I’m outta here!”

Anddd so am I.

Here is the video of my chat with Brad. Please forgive us for some of the drowned out audio.

we are Hoop District

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