What to make of Bradley Beal’s season so far, the good and the bad

What to make of Bradley Beal’s season so far originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Friday night’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets was arguably a well-rounded representation of Bradley Beal‘s season at large. He played well and scored efficiently. But he also turned the ball over in some key moments late in the game; mistakes that take away how good he was overall.

Those have been recurring themes for Beal this season. With 33 points (12-24 FG), seven assists and six rebounds against Charlotte, he has now scored 20 points or more in 11 straight games.

His longest 20-point streak last season was nine games. After a lost 2021-22 season due to injuries and numbers below his standards, Beal so far looks to be shaping up for a bounceback year.

Through now 17 games this season, Beal is averaging 24.1 points per game (up from 23.2 last year), he’s shooting a career-high 52.0% from the field and also 35.2% from three, his best clip since 2019-20. He’s also averaging 5.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals. Beal has also done this while working around a five-game absence due to COVID.

Those are numbers the Wizards will take, especially if Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma are also performing, as they have so far this season. Beal has looked the part of a primary scoring option.

Beal, though, has not been perfect, which was demonstrated in the final 1:29 of the Wizards’ loss to the Hornets on Friday, as he committed two costly turnovers during that stretch. While Beal is averaging 3.0 turnovers per game, his lowest number since 2018-19, the timing of his miscues has not been ideal.

Beal leads the NBA with nine turnovers in clutch situations, which are in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime when the game is within five points. He had three turnovers against the Hornets, but two of them were in the clutch.

Anytime Beal makes those types of mistakes, it will naturally be more magnified, as he is the team’s most accomplished and highest-paid player. Beal signed a five-year supermax contract extension this past June and with that comes high standards, especially in the moments that separate wins and losses.

That’s what makes Beal’s season so far a bit complicated to summarize. Because while Friday’s game did not have the ending he would prefer, it’s hard to be dissatisfied with Beal’s production overall.

For instance, Beal is putting up numbers without needing the ball as often as most top scorers do. He began the day ranked 41st in usage rate, averaging his fewest shot attempts since 2015-16, his Age 22 season.

Every team would take a player who can impact the game in the way Beal does without having to feed them the ball in isolation the entire game. He has been scoring within the flow of the Wizards’ offense.

So really, what the Wizards seem to have in Beal is a good foundation for this season overall. He’s performing well in most areas and beginning to prove last year was an aberration.

If he can clean up the late-game turnovers, he will be just fine.

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