When the Washington Wizards made the decision on draft night to take shooting guard Bradley Beal with the third overall pick they were envisioning pairing him in the backcourt with point guard John Wall. That vision was delayed for a little while because of an injury to Wall. Beal got off to a slow start this season without his running mate. His minutes were sporadic, the shooting touch he displayed at Florida was missing and the losses were piling up in bunches. As the season has gone on, Beal has started to figure things out and so have the Wizards. The return of John Wall has certainly helped with that. Beal has increased his points per game every month and is currently riding a streak of six straight double-figure scoring games. The former Florida Gator is averaging nearly 18 points per contest in the month of February and more importantly the Wizards have won seven of their last nine games. The draft night plan is starting to show itself on the court.
Bradley Beal joined ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. on Inside the Locker Room to talk about whether he still feels like a rookie, on the impact that John Wall’s return has had on him, his willingness to play defense, what has changed for the Wizards after such a slow start to the season, and whether the trade of Jordan Crawford is a statement to the team.
If he still feels like a rookie:
“Not really. Just feel a lot more comfortable and I think coaches are doing a great job just helping me out with my confidence and it’s at an all-time high right now. I’m really just playing well and making sure I get better every game.”
On the impact John Wall’s return has had on him:
Just makes my life so much easier just because the floor is so much more spaced. It creates controversy for the defense. Are they going to stop John from penetrating and leave me open or is the big going to step up and leave our bigs open? With him back it just creates so much controversy for the other team and it helps us out a lot. He’s the point guard we need, he makes plays and he finds guys out in the open.”
On his willingness to defend:
“That’s just something that has always been in me. I always take pride in my defense and I feel as if that’s what wins games. Personally it’s one-on-one, me against my opponent. I’m trying to stop him but I’m trying to score on him as well. That’s always just the way I view it and I feel if I get a stop then it not only helps me but it helps my teammates and gets me going on the other end as well. Whenever I’m playing both ends, I take it seriously and I do it with pride.”
What has changed for them after a slow start:
“Just been playing with more confidence in each other, sharing the ball more on offense and we’re all in unison. I think early in the year we were too individual and too scattered all over the place and making mistakes that we are not making now, especially down the stretch. I think now we are starting to close out games which was really killing us earlier in the year. Now we’re all on the same page and all bought into what coach wants us to do. Now we have great guys with character and guys who are willing to win and sacrifice for the benefit of the team so it’s just a great feeling right now with the roll that we are on.”
On the trade of Jordan Crawford being a statement:
“Yeah, most definitely. It starts with the head guys in Ernie (Grunfeld), he wanted to clean up the locker room. Nothing against JC (Jordan Crawford), but just felt like he wasn’t what the team wanted. We have to move on from it. It’s a business and things happen, but with the guys that we have, we have guys that are willing to win and sacrifice and do what it takes to win. Nobody is really complaining and everything is great.”