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Wait to Panic About the Play of Bradley Beal

It is not time to hit the panic button on Bradley Beal.

"This is America. We get what we want when we want it, and lots of it."

- Steve Czaban, ESPN980

Let's start with the painfully obvious: Wizards rookie Bradley Beal has played badly in his first two games. Okay, "badly" might be understating things. He's been terrible -- his on-court performance has been something like that of a politician's performance with telling the truth. Maybe worse.

Beal, of course, is 19 years old who had just one year of college. He's been thrown into the deep end as a starter. And he's missing John Wall (the starting point guard) and Nene (the team's best player). So, logically, Wizards fans have been talking about the need for patience while the kid gets his...what? Wizards fans have been freaking out? They've been fretting that Beal might be a bust? They've been saying that maybe Washington should have picked Dion Waiters or Someone Else instead of Beal?

Oh.

It almost feels silly to say this, but CALM DOWN. He's 19 years old. He's played 43 career minutes. They've been bad minutes, to be sure, but he was a good prospect in this year's draft, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest he'll make a fine professional basketball player.

In my predraft research, Ye Olde Draft Analyzer (YODA) noted that Beal's freshman season compared well with other freshman shooting guards including Vince Carter, Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan. He was efficient offensively despite struggling at times with his 3pt shot, and he had high rebounding numbers -- indicators that he has sufficient athleticism, toughness and finishing ability to compete in the rough and tumble NBA.

He did not have the YODA rating of someone guaranteed to be a future star, but his youth and strong college production are indicators that he should be a good NBA player.

So, what does a start this bad actually mean? A horrible first two games for rookie guards still in their teens has precedent. Since 1985-86, here are teen rookie guards whose first two games were similar to Beal's:

  • Stephon Marbury -- went off the deep end later in his career, but appeared in two All-Star games, and was third team All-NBA twice
  • Xavier Henry -- bad rookie season two years ago, weak second season, doesn't look like he's going to be a good pro (also worth noting that he didn't look nearly as good in YODA)
  • Tony Parker -- 4 All-Star games, two-time All-NBA, NBA Finals MVP, three championships
  • J.R. Smith -- Western Conference rookie of the month three different times that season; decent role player -- came to the NBA straight from high school
  • C.J. Miles -- below-average backup PG
Before going overboard trying to mine meaning from that list, the real point here is that there's really no meaning to be taken from these first two games. A horrific first two games didn't signal future success for Marbury or Parker any more than it signaled failure for Henry or Miles.

It surely would have been nice if Beal had entered the league like Ray Allen or Michael Jordan, but these first two games tell us nothing about whether Beal will be a future or star or a future bust.

If he's still playing like this after 20 games, then feel free to panic. After two games: relax.

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