Published on February 18th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
2012 NBA Draft Prospect Stock Watch: Bradley Beal
Name: Bradley Beal
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Physicals: 6′ 4″, 205 lbs, 18 years old
NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Current Stats: 14.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.2 TPG, 1.3 SPG, 42.6% FG, 75.8% FT, 32.8% 3P
Florida guard Bradley Beal was rated pretty dang high entering the season, but he’s fallen a bit thanks to some inconsistent play on his part. While the court competitiveness and overall skills for Beal is unquestioned, he’s shooting just 42.6% from the field this season and isn’t wooing with his efficiency.
In his defense, he is playing next to two very ball dominant guards, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton Jr., but the low shooting percentage is making him fall a bit on the draft boards. He’s a very capable shooter and there is little doubt that he will improve as time goes on, but he may need another year in college to prove it.
Beal is a well-rounded scorer and can get to the basket, but he is a bit of a tweener and his bread-and-butter is obviously the pull up. He’s got an excellent array of shooting moves though, and has the quickness necessary to make the stop-and-pop pretty dangerous. His high basketball IQ really shines on the offensive end and even though his shots aren’t falling this year you can see the potential.
Beal reminds a lot of scouts of Ray Allen or Eric Gordon because of his skill set, but I’m a little hesitant of the Allen comparison because Beal isn’t as efficient a shooter yet as Allen was as freshmen. His first year at UConn, Allen averaged 12.6 points a game, and while Beal is relied upon more than Allen was his freshman year, Allen shot a ridiculous 51% from the field.
Beal isn’t, at least right now, close to as efficient a shooter or a scorer as Allen was, but the Gordon comparison is spot on. In Gordan’s one year in Indiana, he averaged 20.9 points a game on 42% shooting, but he really picked up that efficiency in the NBA when he shot 45% (and 38.9% from downtown) his rookie year for the Clippers.
There is no reason to think that Beal can’t also improve his field goal percentage with time. While he may never be as legendary a shooter as Ray Allen, a slightly-less-talented-Eric-Gordon seems very reasonable.
While he shouldn’t ever be relied upon soli to play the point, Beal can certainly handle the ball and does for a good amount of time at Florida. He’s a very unselfish player, has a very high basketball IQ, and makes some very smart passes, although his ball handling will need to improve at the pro-level.
Body wise, he doesn’t have much to worry about but he isn’t going to wow anyone either. While Eric Gordon was deceptively athletic, Beal will be about average for his position in the NBA. He’s certainly not small—6’4” is about the average for a shooting guard, and he’s decently sized at 205 pounds—but his wingspan is just 6’7”, slightly below average.
He’s a very solid defender and his competitiveness and court intelligence will help him overcome any physical limitations in the NBA. He’s a good thief, as evident by his 1.3 steals a contest.
Draft Watch: As I mentioned in my article about UConn’s Jeremy Lamb (seen here), Lamb and Beal will be battling for the top shooting guard spot in the class of 2012, should they both leave school for the draft. The major scouting sites are all split on the two—ESPN’s Chad Ford ranks Beal at 8th and Lamb at 10th, where as DraftExpress has Beal at 10th and Lamb at 12th. NBADraft.net has Lamb at a ridiculously high 5th with Beal at 8th.
I believe that if both players entered the league this year, Lamb would be more NBA ready, but Beal has the higher potential. Lamb comes with questions about his leadership and his drive to succeed—Beal has no such limitations. Yet where Beal is somewhat limited physically, Lamb has no such limitations. It’ll be very interesting to see how NBA teams work the two guards out come time for the draft.
One benefit that Beal has over Lamb is his willingness as a passer, and while he won’t be a NBA point guard his unselfish play may be a selling point. Lamb has a tendency to force some bad shots and doesn’t look at much for the pass, where Beal is anything but a ball-hog.
Phoenix seems a logical fit for Beal, where he could learn from Steve Nash, one of the best shooters/passers in the game. The Suns lack any talent on the wings, and with Beal’s potential, he could be an excellent selection should he improve his shooting efficiency.
Cleveland would be another good fit, where Beal could slide right on in next to Kyrie Irving. Irving is excellent at slashing to the basket, and with Beal’s shooting potential he’d be an excellent weapon and his competitive streak would fit in right with Irving. The combo would be an excellent one-two guard punch for the rebuilding Cavaliers.
A final fit could be New Orleans, especially if the Hornets think they will be losing Eric Gordon in free agency. The Hornets own the Timberwolves pick, which figures to be late lottery, and they need talent wherever they can find it. If they could snag Beal at around picks 12 through 14 it would be a very nice steal.
Overall, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beal go back to college and not enter the 2012 draft. He’s got the potential to go higher in a less-stacked draft, and if he improved his shooting percentage he could go a lot higher in 2013. But he also has to consider that the class of 2012 is mainly bigs, and if he goes into the draft this year, he’d be one of the few wings and that may benefit his positioning.
Conclusion: While he is hardly the most efficient scorer, his potential as a shooter is very high and with his strong competitive nature and excellent basketball IQ he’ll make a very solid wingman in the NBA.