At the outset of Wednesday’s game against the Raptors, everyone knew the conclusion. They just couldn’t figure out the reasoning.
Scoring is down in the NBA this season, as is Offensive Rating, 3-point shooting, turnover rate, and, most notably, free throw attempts.
After the Wizards’ 109-100 loss to the Raptors at Capital One Arena, Bradley Beal offered up a few potential reasons as to why.
“I haven’t talked to many other guys but I definitely see,” Beal said. “Gives me a little peace that I ain’t the only one out here struggling. The whole league is struggling. It’s an adjustment. I think I’ve seen somebody blame the ball the other day…So it’s a lot of adjustments across the league for everybody. There’s really not one thing you could pinpoint, honestly. It could just be the way the chips are falling this year. I don’t know.”
Beal, who scored 31.3 points and averaged 7.7 free throw attempts per game last year, has come out of the gates a bit slower. He’s averaging 24.4 points per game and 4.5 free throw attempts per game.
That could be chalked up to the added depth on the Wizards’ roster, which has led to more evenly balanced scoring up and down the Wizards’ lineup. But it’s not been just Beal who has seen his offense dip.
Entering Wednesday night, league field goal percentage had dropped by 1.9% and 3-point shooting by 2.5%. There have been comments about the referees’ increased focus on the way they enforce fouls — or lack thereof — and the new basketball (the league switched from Spalding to Wilson as the official ball). Beal was even asked about how the crowds could play into it.
“Honestly, that definitely is a little different,” Beal said of full arenas. “I would say from a standpoint of our benching and spacing and depth perception, we didn’t use to have fans under the basket necessarily. Now we have them back under the basket. We had more spacing on our sidelines, we don’t have that anymore. It’s the little, subtle stuff. Definitely having fans and engaging is definitely different too. Granted we had it in the playoffs, but not full capacity.”
Beal was never someone who deliberately chased fouls, but he still ranked near the top of the league in free throw attempts mostly due to how much he handled the ball in the Wizards’ offense a year ago.
Perhaps the numbers, as they tend to do, will slowly inflate over the course of the season as players get used to new teammates, systems and the new basketball. Or, the dip in offensive production could be here to stay.
If that’s the case, there are a few pros and cons to consider, too.
“That’s what’s mind-boggling to me,” Beal said. “My free throw attempts went down, but I’m not necessarily a guy who hunts fouls or tries to draw fouls… but that’s tough to grasp in some ways. At the same time, I actually like it. We foul the hell out of some guys and they don’t call it, so I can’t be mad at it. At the same time, a lot of scorers around the league, that’s how you get a rhythm sometimes — just seeing the ball go in. But, I mean, that’s the rules. I’m not mad at them.”