Bradley Beal on Paul Pierce, Otto Porter, and Summer in Las Vegas
Matt Devlin: What was that experience like for you, going to the postseason?
“It was terrific, I think individually and as a team. For one as a team, that’s where we wanted to be at the beginning of the season and it was great for us to be able to accomplish that. Then, individually, it was terrific. It was a fun experience, and like Coach Witt always told me leading up to it, this is a different style of basketball, it’s going to be fun. On top of that, a lot of people doubted me and John’s experience, so I think we kind of used that as motivation going into the postseason, and I think we handled it pretty well.”
David Aldridge: Where were you last weekend when you got the news that Paul Pierce was going to join?
“I was actually in D.C.—I was in St. Louis and then I went to D.C. for a couple days to workout. It was unfortunate that we lost (Trevor) Ariza, but we got another great guy in Paul Pierce. He’s experienced, he’s won a championship before, so he has that mentality and that killer instinct that I think we need on our team. He has that little cockiness and arrogance that we need, and that little smack-talking that I can probably learn from as well. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him and learning a lot of things.”
MD: What do you think was at the forefront of the turnaround for the Wizards in just one year?
“I think our chemistry, because we kept the same group. We have to tip our hat to the front office, because they did a great job in putting this team together, getting the right group of guys off the court and on the court, because those things are all important. And then on top of that, we took it upon ourselves and we held each other accountable. We were men, we were holding each other accountable for things on the floor; and then on top of that, we had high expectations for ourselves. We know we owed it to the city of D.C. that hadn’t made it to the playoffs in about six years, and it was great for us to get back there this past season.”
DA: Ariza was a great defensive player, but Pierce is probably the better offensive player. How do you imagine the chemistry is going to go with the three of you especially?
“I think it’s going to be terrific. It just keeps the floor very diverse, and it keeps the defense off balance, because now that me and John are constantly continuing to get better and better—and I’m improving my ball-handling and making jump shots—it’s going to be difficult for teams to really guard us. And now we have Paul, who’s another huge threat on offense. And we still got the two great bigs down low, plus the bigs we have off the bench as well. So it’s definitely going to be terrific. I’m excited to see how all this pans out.”
MD: Gortat comes back, you add Kris Humphries, you have Nene, and you picked up DeJuan Blair. So on the inside, you certainly have a presence.
“Most definitely. I think that’s something we definitely need. The thing I love about all the bigs that we have, they’re not afraid to hit anybody.”
MD: Well, we know Gortat…
“That’s one thing we definitely need is somebody who’s not afraid to hit somebody, set a screen, and rebound, and finish at the rim. So I’m definitely excited to put it all together.”
MD: It’s kind of fun to play with guys like that because, out on the court, you can do what you want to do and you can say what you want to say.
“Exactly… With the guys we have, especially with Gortat, he’s a grown man. He starts knocking people around, and you got to watch out. He’s the Polish Hammer, as he calls himself.”
DA: You also got invited to the US Select Team, talk about that.
“That’s definitely a blessing and an honor. When I was 16, 17, I played with the USA team, but now this is the ultimate. This is probably No. 1 on my list of accomplishments. Whenever you have the opportunity to be able to represent your country and play the game that you love along with guys that you play against in the NBA, there’s nothing like it. I’m definitely looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll be part of the team so I can have another gold medal around my neck.”
DA: I know you were disappointed last summer when you were hurt and we not able to participate in the Team USA camp.
“Man, I was itching, man. I was really disappointed. I was out there shooting and working out, and I was doing things that I wasn’t supposed to even be doing. So Coach K came up to me and was like, ‘Son, you need to sit down, just sit and watch.’ So I’m happy that they brought me back this year and gave me the opportunity to be able to prove myself, and hopefully I can bring to the table what they need.”
MD: What does being in that environment do for yourself, from an individual standpoint in your game?
“It humbles you and challenges you at the same time — [block by Daniel Theis happens] — that was a great block.
“It definitely gives you that perspective that you belong, and at the same time it challenges you because you’re playing against some of the greatest players in the league. You have to be able to accept that challenge and step up to the plate, and then you have to realize that you’re not there for no reason.”
DA: Let’s look at that block again.
“I don’t know what his name is, but that was one great block right there… That’s SportsCenter.”
DA: What do you need from Otto Porter this season?
“Otto’s going to be huge. For one, Martell Webster’s going to be out for a little bit because he just had back surgery, so he’s going to be out. We have Paul, and we know Paul’s not going to be out there all the time, so we definitely need Otto to be able to step up, and he’s showing that he can do it. It’s just a matter of him gaining the confidence and taking shots when he’s open. And Sam’s putting the ball in his hands, allowing him to create, he’s posting up, he can shoot 3s. So that’s everything we need him to do, so hopefully he can continue to do that.”
MD: What is your summer routine for putting up shots? Do you have a limit?
“It varies. I really don’t have a set number anymore. I think I shoot now to where I get a feel for myself and I’m comfortable with the amount of shots that I make. But if I haven’t made a lot, I swear I’m in the gym until it’s time to go to sleep. I got to see a couple go in before I leave the gym.”
MD: It’s more about the feel than the number…
“Oh yea, for sure. It’s always quality over quantity. Growing up, everybody’s like, ‘How many shots a day do you take?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, 500.’ Now, that I’m older, you have to take quality shots and game shots [in practice]. It makes you the player that you need to be.”
Later, after Beal departed, the topic of Paul Pierce and how he would influence some of the younger Wizards came up again.
We’ll let David Aldridge take it away:
“I just think Paul Pierce is going to be so important for Bradley Beal more so for any other player on that team.
“Because Bradley Beal is a very nice young man, and I sincerely mean that. He is a really nice young man. But to win in this league, you’ve got to be arrogant. You’ve got to believe there’s nobody on planet earth that can stop you. And I think Paul will help Bradley Beal in that regard, because Paul knows what it’s like to be the best player in the biggest game—he was the Finals MVP. I think he’ll be able to teach Bradley Beal real confidence, bordering on arrogance, that you don’t think anybody can deal with your game. And that will get Bradley Beal to an even higher level as an NBA player.”