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Bradley Beal Struggles Shooting to Start the Season

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Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal has proven himself to be quite the prolific scorer over the past couple of NBA seasons. Indeed, he has averaged over 30 points per game in each of his last two regular-season campaigns, finishing overall second in the league in this metric in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. He can even claim the dubious achievement of being the first player in NBA history to average over 30 points a game and not be selected to the All-NBA or All-Star teams.

This season, however, has seen Beal get off to a bit of a slow start. He is leading the team in scoring at 24.4 points per game but is doing so on very poor efficiency. Beal is currently shooting 38.7 percent from the field and 24.5 percent on 3-pointers. Compare this to last year, when Beal shot 48.5 percent from the field and 34.9 percent on 3-pointers. The Wizards have only played eight games so far this season, but ten percent decreases in both major shooting categories is nothing to balk at.

It has been a year of serious turnover for the Wizards franchise. Between hiring new coach Wes Unseld Jr. and trading away point guard Russell Westbrook for a treasure trove of new personnel, the team looks and feels completely different than it did just a year ago. Additionally, Beal is probably still getting a feel for how to play next to his new backcourt mate Spencer Dinwiddie, who was brought in as part of a sign-and-trade related to the Westbrook deal.

So far this season, Beal has been creating a large percentage of his own shots. Currently, 38 percent of his 2-pointers and just 53.8 percent of his 3-pointers are assisted, both down significantly from last season. Perhaps as Beal gets in the flow of a new offense with new teammates he will not be made to force the issue as much and will get more high-quality shots within the flow of the offense. 

These sorts of fluctuations are fairly normal. Especially from a superstar with a large shot diet, a string of misses is inevitable every once in a while. With NBA referees putting more of an emphasis on removing certain foul calls from the officiating landscape, many other superstars such as James Harden and Damian Lillard are finding it difficult to score in bunches the same way they were able to a season ago. 

While Beal has not been his usual self offensively, things have still been humming along better than expected for this new look Wizards squad. They have a ton of depth and can get game-changing production from a bevy of players on any given night. Dinwiddie and Montrezl Harrell in particular have been huge contributors and even helped the Wizards pick up a win against the Indiana Pacers when Beal was injured. While a shooting slump for a superstar is never anything to celebrate for fans of the team, Wizards fans should not worry too much. These sorts of things are fairly normal, and as Beal adjusts to new surroundings and rule changes, he will undoubtedly return to form very soon. Here’s to hoping it is sooner than fans are hoping.

All stats courtesy of ESPN and Basketball-Reference

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