Go Deep, Young Man: How Shooting More 3-Pointers Can Set Bradley Beal Free | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Go Deep, Young Man: How Shooting More 3-Pointers Can Set Bradley Beal Free

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Updated: January 28, 2015

[Beach Coolin' -- via instagram/realdealbeal23]

[Beach Coolin’ — via instagram/realdealbeal23]

Bradley Beal was not selected as one of the five participants in the NBA All-Star Weekend 3-Point Shootout. No, he was not snubbed. Beal was not selected for one simple reason: he is currently tied with five other people in 67th place for most 3-point attempts per game. Of the 66 players who shoot more 3-pointers per game, only three shoot better than Beal’s 44.1 percent (Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson and Kevin Martin). Put simply: Beal is one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA, but he’s not a 3-point shooter. At least not in the way that makes a player a candidate for the All-Star 3-Point Contest.

Beal currently averages exactly four 3-pointers per game. Compare that to Wesley Mathews (7.7), Damian Lillard (7.2), Thompson (7.0), C.J. Miles (6.3) Danny Green (6.0), and Gerald Green (5.9), to name a few.

Part of being a 3-point shooter is taking 3-point shots frequently. Per 48 minutes played, Beal takes 5.9 3-pointers. Bench players like Rasual Butler (7.4), Luke Babbitt (7.3), Aaron Brooks (7.9), and Patrick Patterson (6.3) all fire up long shots more frequently and, with the exception of Patterson (41.8%), all shoot the ball as well as Beal.

I’ll take it one step further. Beal’s already low 4.0 per game average is over-inflated by the number of 3-point attempts he takes off passes from Wall on 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 fast breaks. The Wall-to-Beal fast-break 3-pointer has become a staple of Washington’s offense and is a joy to watch. But those are not the type of 3-point attempts that create the floor-spacing and ball movement in the half court that is coveted in today’s NBA. Beal can keep those crowd-pleasing attempts, but he needs to add more.

In his support for Kyle Korver’s All-Star candidacy, Grantland’s Zach Lowe explained how deadly 3-point shooters can have a huge impact on offensive possessions without touching the ball simply by moving beyond the arc and forcing defenses to react. When you take and make a high percentage of 3s, defenders are forced to close out on you, which opens driving lanes. Weak-side defenders are also forced to stick by your side, which opens the paint for cutters and creates space for pick-and-rolls.

There have been countless articles, posts and tweets about Randy Wittman’s love of midrange jumpers. When TAI’s Adam McGinnis asked Wittman a couple weeks ago about Washington’s paltry 28th ranked 15.8 3-point attempts per game average, Wittman chalked up the dearth of long-range shots to the lack of 3-point shooters on the roster. But that does not explain why the precious few 3-point shooters Washington does have on its roster launch so few attempts. In Beal, Washington has a deadly 3-point specialist who does not shoot 3-pointers.

But this isn’t just about improving Washington’s team offense. An increased emphasis on 3-pointers may be just as important in Beal’s individual development as a lead scorer.

After a stellar playoff run last season, many people expected (or hoped) that Beal would make a leap in his third season. Such expectations were understandable given how dominant Beal was as a lead ball handler and pick-and-roll option versus Chicago and Indiana. Don’t get me wrong. Beal is having a good season. But he has not shown the aggressiveness that fans (and Wittman) want to see. Beal settles for too many midrange jumpers (although midrange shots make up a lower percentage of his total overall shots this season, 28%, than last season, 36.1%). Also, he rarely gets to the line (2.5 free throw attempts per game).

Washington runs a lot of plays for Beal, but they always seem to result in Beal catching the ball while curling around a screen at the elbow or simply running circles around Nene in the high post. Those are the midrange-by-design plays that frustrate fans. Why can’t Wittman pretend Beal is Rasual Butler and run a half dozen plays for him to come off a Nene screen at the 3-point line?

If I were Wittman I’d institute a mandatory minimum of six 3-point attempts per game and glare at Beal (the same way he glares at Kevin Seraphin) whenever he falls short of that goal. This may be more pop psychology than basketball analysis, but Beal’s occasionally lackadaisical play is more mental than physical and developing a killer instinct is a mental challenge, not a physical one.

Wall and Beal are the foundation of this team and the franchise will only go as far as the backcourt carries it. Wall has already made the leap. Beal is not behind schedule, but it’s also not too early to give him a push.

An (unwritten) 3-point mandate would prompt Beal to constantly look for opportunities to exploit unbalanced defenses, like Ray Allen did so well, instead of drifting out of the play when his initial cut does not produce a scoring opportunity. It’d make a big difference: Beal isn’t just a corner specialist—he’s shooting 43.6 percent from above the break. And those extra 3-point attempts would also force defenders to close out hard on Beal, encouraging him to drive to the basket more, instead of pulling up from the midrange, where he’s shooting 33.33 percent.

Beal already has a green light. But, like a driver talking on his cell phone at an intersection, he sometimes fails to see it. The doldrums of the regular season are the perfect time for Wittman to honk his horn and urge Beal to put his foot on the gas.

 


Vines.

Seems like a good option to get Beal more looks from deep.

Shots like this aren’t the best decision.

Or just drive to the rim….

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.