Like LeBron James, Bradley Beal strives for All-NBA status on a losing team

first_imgLOS ANGELES — For so long, Bradley Beal was a wingman. For the first time, the NBA is seeing him as something far more.Ahead of the Lakers’ home game against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, Coach Luke Walton revealed the tentpole of his team’s game plan: Stop Beal.“Bradley Beal is a monster,” he said. “Our priority has gotta be containing him the best that we can. He’s scoring all over the place. He’s playmaking for them. So we got a game plan to make sure we don’t give him anything easy.”When John Wall was lost for the season, the Wizards slumped. It was hard to see what the team’s future was without their million-mile-per-hour point guard. But Beal, 25, has brightened the outlook for the franchise: He’s averaging career-bests in scoring (25.9), assists (5.6), and rebounds (5.2) while shooting at more crisp percentages from the floor than last season. Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersHis production is enough to put him in the discussion for a small club: an All-NBA player from a losing team. It’s the same club LeBron James will likely inhabit for the first time in his career this season, and one that Walton said Beal belongs in.“When you’re a scorer and a shooter like Beal is, sometimes if you take (a playmaker) away, teams can take you away,” Walton said. “You can focus on him, you can jump switch to deny him. But he’s able to handle the ball, play-make himself, still get to the rim, still get himself open and everything that they’re doing.”James is a 14-time All-NBA forward, and at his level of production (27.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 8.1 apg), he should receive the honor again. With Beal, the All-NBA designation might be a bit of a catch: He would be eligible for a supermax extension, and with Wall already being paid one, the Wizards might be hard-pressed to keep both on the books.But that’s a hypothetical problem for the Wizards. Coach Scott Brooks said it’s as simple as that Beal has qualified despite Washington’s record.“I think if you look at it, you see that he’s one of the best guards in the league,” he said. “He’s one of the best two-way players, he’s one of the best playmakers and one of the best rebounders at that position. When you’re one of the best at all those things, on both sides of the ball, it puts you in that category.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Averaging 9.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, Bryant has carved out a starting role for most of the season in Washington after the Lakers cut him last summer. The roster decision at the time was made so they could keep Ivica Zubac, who has since been traded to the Clippers.Meanwhile, Bryant has looked solid as a sophomore for the Wizards, even spurring the team to try a “Most Improved Player” campaign on his behalf.“He plays with great energy all the time,” Brooks said. “He’s not perfect, but he gives you great effort and gives you that perfect effort every night.”Walton said studying Wizards film, he’s appreciated Bryant’s ability to roll to the rim and to set screens. It’s not that the Lakers didn’t see Bryant do those things in L.A., he’s just better at them now.“We knew he was a good young player,” Walton said. “That’s why we drafted him. But with the opportunity and experience, he’s continued to expand his game.” THOMAS BRYANT RETURNS TO L.A.It’s not the first time the Lakers have seen Thomas Bryant in the opposing starting lineup, but this time, it feels less like a stopgap.Related Articles Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions last_img

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