Jacob Raim - WashingtonWizards.com
GP: 56 PPG: 13.9 FG%: .410 3P%: .386 RPG: 3.8 APG: 2.4 FT%: .786 STL: 0.9 BLK: 0.5
Impact on the Team
With his rookie campaign now closed, we can look back on it extraordinarily fondly and realize that when he was healthy, there's no doubt that Beal was one of the top rookies in the league this year. He earned two Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards, set the Wizards' rookie franchise record for threes made in a season with 91, and averaged 13.9 points, 3.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds while shooting .386 from three-point range. His points per game and three-point shooting percentage both ranked third amongst rookies.
The growth we saw from Beal this year was massive. Obviously, when a player is taken third overall the expectations are through the roof, and Beal was no exception. So when he started the season on the slow side, people were very quick to call the pick a bust, seemingly forgetting that he is 19 years old and playing his first games in the best league in the world. Those that watched closely and did not jump to such rash conclusions should not have been surprised when the light switch was hit around the beginning of January and he started performing like the player everybody expected him to be, and more. At times this year, we saw a player that can score at will, defend well on the perimeter and is not afraid to take the big shot, like he did against Oklahoma City.
Once January hit, it was on for Beal. He started playing with the swagger of a stud scoring guard, getting to the hoop effectively as well as knocking down a high percentage of his three balls. From January one on, he was shooting around 60 percent on corner threes, and when he and Wall were playing together, Wall was just driving and dishing to that corner all day. From January 1 on, Beal was 62 of 129 from three point range. It was fantastic to watch the two of them work in tandem. Assuming the two of them can stay healthy, that backcourt will assuredly be one of the most exciting in the NBA next year.
The best stretch we saw out of Beal this year was from February 11 to March 3, when he got hurt in Philly. The confidence soared during that stretch and he was shooting the ball at a higher frequency as well as making almost 50 percent of his three-pointers. His shooting mechanics were always solid but he was rushing his shot at the beginning of the year, not letting the game come to him. Some experience and getting John Wall back into the lineup solved that though, and he averaged exactly 20 points per game over the stretch.
To put things into perspective for next year, the team was 15-7 when Beal, Wall and Nene were all in the lineup and 6-2 when they all started. Optimism for next year indeed. Beal will be the starting SG from day one, and will be tasked with being one of the Wizards top two scoring options along with Wall. Beal certainly has the potential to average close to 20 points a game as he showed during the second half of the year when he was playing in tandem with Wall. He may start facing tougher defensive assignments though as he continues to grow offensively and as his role in the offense gets even larger. The Wizards fifth ranked defense was just about as good with Beal on the floor and it was without him. He certainly has the quickness and basketball IQ to grow into an above average perimeter defender. Beal is already one of the faces of the franchise and has a very bright future ahead of him.