On June 28, NBA Commissioner David Stern strode across the Prudential Center stage to the podium and announced that Florida guard Bradley Beal was coming to play for the Washington Wizards. Prior to the draft, he became the most coveted prospect not named Anthony Davis. ESPN’s Andy Katz reported that the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers all were willing to trade up to get Beal. None did, and the Wizards selected their man with the third pick.
Besides football toughness and high character, Beal brings sorely needed shooting and rebounding to the Wizards backcourt. Former guard Nick Young was a legitimate scorer, but did little else. Incumbent guard Jordan Crawford is also blessed with the scorer’s gene and the knack for an occasional timely pass, but defense, rebounding, and consistency are not parts of his repertoire.
Beal’s arrival, combined with the acquisitions of Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, gives Wizards fans and coaches every reason to believe that change is coming. Those three combined with the still-maturing John Wall, a couple of promising kids in the fold, and a steady Nene for an entire season represent a new beginning … again.
In case there is any confusion, this 2012 version of “new beginnings” is slightly different than the one we saw in 2009. Then, Ernie Grunfeld and Abe Pollin tried to generate enthusiasm with the arrivals of Flip Saunders, Mike Miller and Randy Foye on top of a retread roster (Foye specifically said it was a “new beginning” for him at media day — it always is). The luster drastically wore off after uneven play, a gun incident, and trades that caused the Wizards to finish 26-56. The very next season, a game-changing new beginning was offered up by new owner Ted Leonsis in the form of number one draft pick John Wall, who received the limousine and red carpet treatment from the Wizards brass. Wall showed flashes of speed and brilliance during his rookie year, but his lack of a strong supporting cast was exposed, and by his second year, it was clear that more change was needed. This planted the seeds for this current version of a new beginning.
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