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Bradley Beal: 2 Keys to Unlocking the Superstar Dwelling Within

When you were 19 years of age, what were you doing with your life?  While I cannot possibly make an accurate guess as to how each respective reader was spending his/her time, I can guarantee this:  the odds of you averaging 13.9 PTS on 38.6 percent shooting from three in the NBA are about as low as the Cleveland Cavaliers fulfilling Jarrett Jack's desire of winning the title in 2013/14.

Much like the Cavs lack the imperative ingredients for a realistic shot at the championship, you were probably far from capable of playing basketball at the professional level.

Unless, of course, your name is Bradley Beal.  If this is the case, then this happens to be exactly what you managed to accomplish.  Well done, baller, well done.

Indeed, the now 20 year old Bradley Beal can flat-out ball.  While he only participated in 56 contests last campaign due to his unfortunate ankle injury, the kid demonstrated a god-given gift for the game when he did dress out for the Washington Wizards.  As a 19 year old rookie in 2012/13, Beal proved to possess 3 vital components for the creation of an elite scoring guard:

  • A consistent, fundamentally sound jump shot which can be drained off the bounce as well as the catch
  • A natural understanding of how to find open opportunities for himself through off-ball movement
  • The scorer's mentality necessary to serve as a go-to option (as evidenced by his game-winner against OKC here ).

With his athleticism, skill, and talent, it is evident the Florida product holds the potential to develop into one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.  But in order for Beal to reach his sky-high ceiling, there are 2 additional elements he must incorporate into his offensive arsenal.

So, without further ado, here are the 2 keys necessary to unlocking "Bradley Beal: The Superstar".

Key #1:  Penetration of the Paint

Whenever Beal attacked the basket, he proved to be extremely efficient finishing around the rim (50% shooting inside the paint).  However, witnessing the two guard actually attempt scoring opportunities in the key was very rare and, subsequently, gloriously gratifying for loyal followers of the Wiz.  A comparison of his inside and outside shooting statistics reveals just how special a moment seeing Beal penetrate truly was:

Inside the paint:  89-178 (50%)

Outside the paint:  190-506 (37.5%)

When 2012/13 was all said and done, the then 19 year old ended up converting more looks from the outside than the amount he even shot near the hoop.  Considering Beal's athletic, strong build, this truly can only be done through a dedicated devotion to simply settling.

If Beal is going to transform into the high-profile, 20 PPG scorer he is capable of becoming, he needs to overcome his anxiety for attacking and learn to consistently drive the lane.  A big reason point producers such as Kobe Bryant and James Harden score so much so often is because they constantly keep opposing defenses on their toes:  they are capable of both lighting it up from deep as well as placing pressure on defenders with their penetration of the paint.  

Bradley Beal is straight-up scary as a shooter.  But if he fails to assert himself as an attacking threat, defenses will easily discover methods of stopping his roll.  He was a consistent finisher when he did take his opportunities inside last year.  Why not improve and try to create more chances around the bucket?

Key #2:  Creative Control

As the 2012/13 campaign progressed, Beal began to become predictable with his shot selection:  he would either pull-up for balanced jumpers off the bounce or release picture-perfect spot-up looks from beyond the arc.

Of course, this is not to say his shot choices were undesirable; in fact, he played very intelligent ball his rookie year.  However, NBA defenses prey on predictability.  Know the offensive player's tendencies, and said player is erased from the equation.

There is a way for the shooting guard to avoid this conflict of interest and succeed moving forward.  Obviously, as is mentioned in Key #1, paint penetration can work as a solution.  But what if young Bradley is guarded by prominent lockdown defenders such as the Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen or the OKC Thunder's Thabo Sefolosha?  How will he overcome these elite challengers?

In order to score at a high rate against these types of frightening foes, Bradley Beal needs to implement what I like to call "Creative Control".  Basically, he must learn how to create space for himself in isolation while refraining from throwing up shots which are forced and out-of-control.  This mainly can be achieved through the development of dribble creativity.  Instill a deadly crossover, and this will help lead to either an open path to the promise land or a smooth step back J.  Throw opponents off with a dribble-hesitation fake to the left, and send a dagger through the D with a tricky turnaround jumper leaning toward the right (T-Mac's turnaround style might work as well).

No matter the move, the main point is this:  if Beal plans on meeting his full potential as a consistent high-volume scorer, a separation from shot selection repetition and an adoption of the "Creative Control" concept will significantly improve his success.

At an age where most peoples' days of competitive ball had just recently concluded, Bradley Beal was balling with an understanding that his glory years have yet to even happen.  His foundation as a fundamental, reliable, solid shooter was already sturdily established as a 19 year old heading into his rookie season.  If he continues to build upon his strong shooting underpinning, focuses on enhancing his paint penetration, and works on developing his ball-handling as a means for creating, this 20 year old stud will undoubtedly shine as a premier scoring star in the very, very near future.