WASHINGTON — It started with a question about Spencer Dinwiddie and Montrezl Harrell. Those two players have battled inconsistency of late and Bradley Beal is the face of the Wizards franchise, so his opinion on anything is relevant.
Beal, though, didn’t want to talk about their shortcomings because he has also not been playing up to his own standards. Well, that’s one way of putting it. He was much harsher than that.
“In all fairness, I’ve been s—-y all year. So, I’m not going to sit here and talk about two other guys who have really been helping our team out,” Beal said. “I’ll put that on me before them. I have to be better, I have to lead better, I have to produce and lead this team like I want to.”
Beal, 28, is averaging 22.5 points, his fewest in a season since 2015-16, when he was 22 years old. He’s shooting just 44.2% from the field, his lowest clip since 2014-15. And his 26.3% from 3-point range is the worst of his career.
While the Wizards started out 10-3 and still remain a solid 15-12 after losing nine of their last 14 games, they have won without Beal playing to his full capabilities. This is a guy who has led the Eastern Conference in scoring for each of the past two seasons, both times averaging 30-plus points.
Beal is also averaging a career-high 3.5 turnovers per game this season and that seems to be especially frustrating for him. After the Wizards’ win over the Pistons on Wednesday, he said the team has to limit their turnovers and “especially” him.
Beal leads the Wizards in turnovers and is 10th in the NBA in the category. He has the second-most turnovers of any player in the clutch, behind only his former teammate Russell Westbrook.
“It’s an adjustment getting used to knowing where we’re supposed to be in our spots, kind of making passes that aren’t there. Sometimes I get caught dribbling in between two many guys,” Beal explained.
Beal added that he’s okay with the turnovers as long as they come on aggressive plays and not careless ones. But the word ‘careless’ is one head coach Wes Unseld Jr. chose to describe some of them.
“He’s aware of it, we’ve talked about it. Some of is the pressure teams put on him, they double him, they hit and they blitz,” Unseld Jr. said.
“But sometimes it’s just I think careless. Sometimes it’s playing in a crowd, trying to overdribble and do too much. It’s not because he’s selfish, he’s trying to make a play.”
Beal has not indicated there is anything going on besides just his substandard play on the floor. Though he has played recently with some tape on his right knee, there does not seem to be an injury to blame.
Beal does have an elephant in the room in that he has not accepted a major contract extension offer from the Wizards and can technically become a free agent this upcoming offseason. While the pressure of future earnings can be a detriment for professional athletes, he has already made about $180 million in his career and can push that number over $200 million just by not opting out. So, he can’t be too worried about the money.
Beal expressed confidence he will break out of his slump eventually. He is trying to be present and focus on improving each day.
His career numbers suggest a breakout will indeed happen. But given their recent struggles, the Wizards could use it sooner than later.
Beal knows they need him.
“It starts with me, I’ve gotta be better,” he said.