Bradley Beal not fretting about All-Star snub
WASHINGTON – Bradley Beal had been looking forward to spending NBA All-Star Weekend in the Dominican Republic before momentarily getting his hopes up for a trip to New Orleans. When Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was forced to sit out the All-Star festivities because of a knee injury, Beal stood as a reasonable replacement pick except for one problem: He only stands 6-foot-5 and the Eastern Conference was severely lacking in big men.
Someone joked with Beal this week that he could play a little small forward if need be.
“I’ll play the four,” Beal jokingly replied, grabbing his biceps to reveal his strength.
“Five,” someone responded.
“I’ll play the six,” Beal said with a laugh as he walked away.
Beal was willing to do whatever had to be done to make his first All-Star team, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver decided to go with mainstay Carmelo Anthony, perhaps to address the size problem on the East squad or to reward the now 10-time All-Star for having to put up with the never-ending saga of being a New York Knick. Either way, Beal’s snub – considering he is the second-best player on the team with the conference’s third-best record – may have done more to draw attention to the role he has played in the season’s most remarkable turnaround.
On a pick-your-positive roll call for the Washington Wizards’ unexpected rise into a contender, Beal averaging a career-high 22.2 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting is near the top. Coach Scott Brooks has encouraged him to expand his range – “He tells me, ‘Shoot 20 3s a game.’ Nobody has ever told me to do that,” Beal told The Vertical with a laugh – and Beal, who has made a career-high 148 3-pointers this season, is beginning to reveal more of that borderline arrogant side that he often hides beneath a modest, laid-back demeanor.
“I’ve always had it,” Beal told The Vertical of his cockiness. “It’s just bringing it out; being more of a dog, tough, showing a little more emotion, too. It was always there. I had to develop as well, because nothing is perfect. Being a little bit cocky, a little more confident in myself, I’m just having a little bit different approach to it. [Brooks] instills a lot of confidence in me. That, in itself, tells me to be aggressive and have freedom.”
John Wall has been spectacular since December, whipping out between-the-legs bounce passes and whirling no-look dishes while earning his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance. But since his arrival in Washington in 2010, and especially since Beal came along two years later, Wall has wanted someone else capable of relieving him from the burden of carrying the franchise. Beal has had his moments when he looked the part, particularly when he led the Wizards in scoring in their past two playoff appearances. But injuries and an inefficient game that relied…