San Antonio Spurs fans may not have even turned on the NBA Draft on their television sets when Washington Wizards rookie Bradley Beal was drafted out of Florida with the third pick this summer, especially considering where the Spurs drafted.
But Spurs fans and the Spurs themselves got a chance to get a look at Beal when the Wizards visited the Spurs on Friday for their final preseason game.
Beal is a 19-year-old rookie shooting guard who is part of almost a completely new team looking to re-establish their image, and while he may not have the pressure on him that Hornets rookie Anthony Davis does, Beal is expected to play a big role with the Wizards this season along with John Wall and several new veteran players.
Beal looked every bit his age on Friday as he launched jumper after jumper that clanged off the rim when they weren’t hitting the top of the backboard on his way to a goose egg in points on the stat sheet.
Danny Green deserves a lot of the credit for hounding the rookie and forcing him to take bad shots on a frustrating night. Beal had been averaging nearly 13 points per game in the preseason, but Friday’s game just goes to show that the NBA isn’t always an automatic transition.
Luckily for Beal, he’s on a team with a completely changed attitude from just a year ago and he has a few NBA veterans around him to help him along his way.
“It hasn’t been too bad (transitioning). These guys have really just been here lifting me up, showing me the ropes basically, being mentors and big brothers to me and they’ve been taking me under their wing since day one,” Beal told me before tipping off against the Spurs on Friday. “These guys have really helped me out a lot and it hasn’t been too difficult a transition for me.”
While Beal may have the luxury of having veteran players around him, he also hopes to learn by watching some of the better shooting guards in the league, one of whom is Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
While Beal has been compared to Ray Allen, it’s pretty safe to say he wouldn’t mind drawing comparisons to Ginobili down the road in his career.
I always watch Ginobili, just because he brought basically the European style over here. The way he plays is, he’s so dynamic and he’s dangerous on both ends of the floor. I mean he’s real crafty,” Beal said.
Beal also said he looked forward to playing against Ginobili. While he had enough of a challenge with Green in front of him, Beal didn’t get a chance to play against Ginobili, who sat out the final preseason game.
Beal won’t have to wait too long for his chance though. The Spurs travel to D.C. for a game against the Wizards on a six-game road trip late next month.
“I’m looking forward to playing against him,” Beal added. “He’s one of the best guards in the league so whenever I have the opportunity to play against anybody like that, I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
While Beal may have his share of successes and struggles throughout his rookie year, Beal seems to be a perfect fit for the Wizards and their new identity.
Asked whether he was being overlooked with most of the media making Davis the lock to win Rookie of the Year, Beal said he had other things on his mind.
“It’s not a factor to me at all. It’s not really what I’m shooting for,” Beal said. “I’m focused on what the team is doing in terms of trying to make it into the playoffs. It would be great if it happens down the line and it’s a tremendous honor, but it’s not really what I’m focused on.”
Ginobili didn’t win Rookie of the Year, but four championships later and with a Hall of Fame induction likely coming soon after his career ends, it’s highly doubtful Ginobili misses having that trophy on his already crowded mantle.
Beal wouldn’t miss it either.