Last season, Bradley Beal fell 17 points shy of making the All-NBA third team. Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (then of the Charlotte Hornets) narrowly edged out Beal for the final guard spot on the team. This left many Wizards fans confused. How can a player average 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in a season and still not make one of the All-NBA teams?
This season, Beal has been given a burden that very few superstars would have been willing to take on. He has had to carry a below-average group of players as far as he can possibly take them. He even signed a contract extension earlier this year to make sure that he would stay in DC! Most superstars do not commit to bad teams for the long haul unless they are granted certain requests (we’re talking to you, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler). But not our shooting guard.
This season, Bradley Beal has been averaging 27.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists a game. He has been shooting 44-percent from the field and 32-percent from three. However, those numbers are only scratching the surface of why Beal is worthy of an All-NBA spot.
Why does Beal deserve an All-NBA spot?
If you dig a little deeper into analytics, you will see that Beal has an offensive rating of 111 and a defensive rating of 118. To put those numbers into context, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the fan-favorite for Most Valuable Player, has an offensive rating of 119 followed by a defensive rating of 96. LeBron James has an offensive rating of 115 and a defensive rating of 108.
So what does that mean? Well, it means that Beal is not too far behind the game’s elite (offensively, at least). Last season, Beal had an offensive rating of 113 and a defensive rating of 114. So, his numbers are slightly worse than last year. However, Beal has had a bigger weight on his shoulders than last year. Beal’s usage percentage of 32.2 shows how much the Wizards depend on him, ranking eighth in the NBA.
Beal faces stiff competition
However, it will not be easy for Beal to make an All-NBA team. Players such as Kemba Walker, Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard, and Spencer Dinwiddie will be fighting for a spot. All of the players mentioned have one thing Beal does not have: team success.
Everyone mentioned above is a key player on a team that is either fighting for, or currently in, a playoff spot. Beal is not on a team like that currently. Not only that, everyone above is averaging at least 20 points per game on 40-percent shooting or better. So, unless Beal wills this team to playoff contention, he does not have a great chance at getting a second or third team All-NBA spot.
If Beal did happen to make an All-NBA team, the Wizards would be left with a tough decision. At the time of his All-NBA selection, Beal would immediately become eligible for a supermax contract worth five years and $253.75 million. This is something the Wizards would have to seriously consider, as they already have John Wall on a supermax contract. Having one player on that contract can affect a team’s plans for the future. But signing two players to supermax contracts will have consequences, like how effectively a team can put talent around those two players, regardless of how good they might be.
In the end, Bradley Beal is doing what not many players can do, or want to do. He is spending his prime seasons on a below-average roster and trying to make them relevant. And he is succeeding at that, helping make the 12-24 Wizards an interesting and competitive team. If that is not worthy of an All-NBA spot, then I honestly do not know what is.