What can we expect from Bradley Beal in 2021-22, absent Russell Westbrook?

What can we expect from Beal this year, absent Westbrook? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

With the NBA season approaching, Chase Hughes and Andrew Gillis dissect the biggest questions entering the 2021-22 season. 

Today’s question: What can we expect from Bradley Beal this season, absent Russell Westbrook?

CH: I think the stage has been set for Beal to have the best season of his career so far. If you look at his trajectory, he’s arguably gotten better for five or six years in a row. And now he has a supporting cast that can augment his strengths and compensate for his weaknesses. He should have more help on both ends of the floor, so he doesn’t have to score 30-plus points to win and doesn’t have to take on defensive mismatches.

Beal doesn’t need to score more than he has the past two seasons, but shooting more efficiently would represent improvement. He could also get his percentages up in clutch time to further affect the results of games.

Regardless, I think he is going to be viewed as the reason for their success or failure more than ever before. Beal was the guy in 2019-20, but no one expected them to be good. In other years, he shared the spotlight with either John Wall or Russell Westbrook. Now they have a deeper team, ready to compete for a playoff spot, and he’s quite clearly the best player. Really, it’s an opportunity for him to raise his profile as a star if the Wizards win and he is seen by most as the biggest reason why.

AG: Totally agree with Chase in that we’re setting up for Beal to have the best season of his very impressive career so far. 

He’s averaged 30-plus (31.3 and 30.5) points per game the last two seasons and has been an All-Star three of the last four years. But I’m not sure it’s exactly reasonable to expect him to average 32-5-5 a game and carry the Wizards on his back for the entire season. 

The Wizards added far more depth and defensive help this offseason than they had a year ago, and that should only increase Beal’s impact on the Wizards this season. Will he lead the league in scoring? It’s a lofty goal and one fans shouldn’t count on. But it’s important to note that he doesn’t really have to carry such a burdened load anymore. 

With the additions to the lineup that should help out defensively, and a few shooters like Corey Kispert and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the floor spacing should be such that Beal should have room to operate and facilitate for his teammates. 

But now, he’s clearly the best player on a Wizards team that would love nothing more than another season where he’s contending for the scoring title.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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