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By Now It's Gotta Be Time To Worry About Beal

 

Hard to believe it's been more than two weeks since I've revisited the topic of Wizards fans wringing their collective hands about the play of rookie guard Bradley Beal. Regular readers may recall that I've looked at this issue hereherehere, and here.

Fretting about Beal has become a Wizards fan pastime as the missed shots mount and the losses accumulate. Here's a representative take on the subject from nate33 on the Wizards message board at RealGM.

Beal remains a TERRIBLE shooter. I'm so sick of watching him brick open looks. 

He's the exact opposite of what I expected. I was hoping for a good spot up shooter who would probably be a bit lacking in other aspects of the game. What we've got is a pretty good all around player who defends, hits the glass, passes pretty well, and can get to the rim; but he can't shoot a lick. The guy barely hits the rim sometimes.

I guess the good news is that shooting improves over time to a greater degree than defense, passing and rebounding; so maybe he'll pan out to be okay. But in the meantime, I'm at the point where I cringe every time he takes a perimeter shot.

There's no question that Beal is missing shots. His efg is .413 vs. a league average of .489. He's below 40% on 2pt field goal attempts and is shooting just .305 from 3pt range. Not exactly a dead-eye marksman thus far -- especially for a guy some folks were comparing to Ray Allen and Mitch Richmond.


Compared to the average NBA player or the average NBA shooting guard, Beal isn't good this season. But is that cause for concern about his long-term prospects as an NBA player? A look at similar player -- young rookie guards (in this case 20-years old or younger -- Beal is 19) would suggest there's not much reason for alarm.

Here's a comparison of Beal to the AVERAGE young rookie through their first 23 games (minimum 100 total minutes):

STAT  BEAL  AVG. YRG 
MPG  29.5  19.4 
Ortg 95  98 
Usg48 19.8  19.4 
efg .413  .444 
2pt% .388  .438 
3pt% .305 .310 
FT% .843
.757 
Reb 5.9  5.6 
Ast 3.8 6.1 
Stl 1.6  1.8 
Blk 0.7  0.5 
Tov 2.8  3.6 
PF 3.3  4.0 
Pts 20.2  18.6 
PPA 63  69 
     

Stats are presented per 48 minutes. Ortg is offensive rating -- points produced per 100 possessions. PPA is Player Production Average, which is my overall rating stat. It's similar to John Hollinger's PER or David Berri's Wins Produced, but...better. In PPA, 100 = league average and higher is better.

So, it's clear that Beal hasn't been "good" -- replacement value in PPA is 60 and he's barely above that threshold. But, he's about as good as other young rookie guards (YRG) were at the start of their careers.

Just for kicks, here's a list of YRGs who rated as bad or worse than Beal using PPA through the first 23 games of their career:

  • Larry Hughes -- 62
  • Quentin Richardson -- 51
  • Monta Ellis -- 46
  • Jrue Holiday -- 45
  • Rajon Rondo -- 41
  • OJ Mayo -- 26
  • Martell Webster -- 13
  • Kobe Bryant -- 8
  • Louis Williams -- -4
  • JR Smith -- -19
  • Jamal Crawford -- -25
  • Avery Bradley -- -89
That's not a comprehensive list, and there were players who were worse as a YRG, but haven't turned into good pros.

While I'm not worried yet about Beal, there is at least some ammunition for those who are. Several of the players used as comps for Beal had begun to show signs of "getting it" by this point in their rookie seasons.

  • James Harden -- 116 (PPA) after 23 games
  • Derrick Rose -- 121
  • Andre Iguodala -- 104
  • Gilbert Arenas -- 90
  • Russell Westbrook -- 83
  • Jason Richardson -- 81
Based on his college production and the history of YRGs struggling early in their career, I think there's still plenty of reason to believe that Beal will be an excellent professional. This is the first time I've looked at the data and found even an inkling of reason for concern. Going forward, we should see Beal start improving. If he doesn't, the worrywarts will have real reason for concern.

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