St. Louisan Bradley Beal, already playing like an NBA All-Star, has responded to an actual and inexplicable All-Star snub by going on a merciless scoring binge.
Beal, 26, is in his eighth NBA season, all with the Washington Wizards. In terms of scoring Beal is having the best showing of his career, averaging 29.2 points per game. That ranks fourth overall in the NBA, and third among guards. (Only James Harden and Damian Lillard have scored more than Beal.)
Beal was named to the East All-Star team in each of the past two seasons, and seemed on track to make it for the third consecutive year. But in a vote of the conference coaches to select reserves, Beal didn’t make the cut.
This is … in a word … crazy.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Beal is the first NBA player in 41 years to average at least 29 points per game and get excluded from an All-Star team. Beal could still make the roster as an injury replacement. But it shouldn’t come down to subbing in at the last minute.
Beal absolutely deserves to be on the East squad, and the snub makes you wonder what the coaches are thinking.
Did they hold Washington’s awful record against him? The Wizards were 17-32 through Monday, but that isn’t Beal’s fault. He brings a competitive fury to the floor every game. He’s relentless in his desire to elevate a disappointing and shorthanded team that’s missing injured point guard John Wall.
The Beal and Wall backcourt led the Wizards to the conference playoffs four times in five seasons through 2018. But just before Christmas of ‘18, Wall ruptured an Achilles and hasn’t played since. Wall is making progress in his rehab but won’t be ready for a while.
With Wall down, the Wizards faded to a 32-50 record last season and missed the playoffs. They aren’t completely buried this year, but the percentage of qualifying is awfully low.
Beal’s defense is below average, but he can only do so much on a team that is terrible overall defensively. Bealis doing everything he can to make up for Wall’s absence. His 29.2 points per game is a career high. He’s averaging 6.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.
You’d think that coaches would want to reward such a player …
A player that works his tail off every time, in a mostly losing cause. A player who signed a two-year contract extension in October; by doing so, Beal passed on a chance to test unrestricted free agency in 2022. Unless he’s traded, Beal can’t become a UFA until 2023.
There’s a lot of money out there for a guard that’s averaged 25 points per game over the last three seasons. And more than a few contending teams would line up to make Beal a free-agent priority. But he chose to stay with Washington.
The Wizards aren’t exactly a dream destination franchise for NBA stars, but Beal remains dedicated to his team. You’d think coaches would appreciate Beal’s loyal character.
As Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told the Washington Post: “It’s just wrong. I think the coaches have sent a horrible message. He could’ve made the choice to be a bandwagon jumper and just go on and join a higher-level team and he would’ve been guaranteed in the All-Star Game. But he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to be loyal to his organization and the coaches in the NBA are holding it against Brad that he was loyal to his organization.”
You’d think that coaches would respect a player who sincerely believes the Wizards will rally and snatch the last playoff spot in the East … despite being given a two percent chance to pull it off according to the postseason odds at Basketball Reference.
Only two percent?
Don’t tell Beal that.
“I love our chances,” Beal told the Washington Post.
As for being ignored by the coaches in the All-Star selection, Beal vented to NBC Sports Washington.
“I’m a little pissed about it, but I know how I am,” Beal said. “I was kind of expecting it, honestly. It’s disrespectful, but the real ones know, so I’m just going to keep competing and I’m going to try to get my team to the playoffs.”
The Chaminade Prep alum is using anger in a positive way. He’s scored at least 34 points in seven consecutive games including 43 in Monday’s loss to Golden State. He’s averaged 38.9 points during the seven-game sizzler.
“He’s played like he has all year,” teammate Isaiah Thomas told the Washington Post. “Even though they didn’t name him an All-Star, he’s an All-Star. It’s so political. NBA picks who they want, and that’s just how it’s going to be. We (the Wizards) have no national TV games. All-Stars, they always talk about (being ) on winning teams.”
St. Louis will have a representative in the Feb. 16 NBA All-Star game.
Third-year Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Beal’s fellow Chaminade Prep alum, is a first-time All-Star after. He’s averaging career-highs in points per game (21.7), rebounds (7.3), assists (3.1), and steals (1.5.)
Tatum has received plenty of praise for his performance on the defensive end. He usually guards the other team’s best offensive player at forward. And he frequently is asked to defend taller, brawnier opponents.
Tatum’s star is rising at age 22. Last summer, following his second NBA season, he was selected to play for Team USA. Unfortunately Tatum only played in two games before suffering a serious ankle sprain that knocked him out of the competition.
Though only one will play in the game, St. Louis has two All-Star players in Beal and Tatum. The selection travesty aside, Beal is definitely an All-Star.
An All-Star in talent. And an All-Star person.
Thanks for reading …