Rookie guard unhappy with play against Cavaliers
It has been said before that Bradley Beal doesn't get nervous. But he knows he wasn't himself in his NBA debut for the Wizards, a season-opening 94-84 loss at Cleveland. A lengthy film session back in the District on Wednesday confirmed it.
"I critique myself so hard. I was all over the place," Beal said. "I wasn't there mentally. I wasn't as hyped or active on both ends as I usually am. Coach definitely pointed that out. It's hard for me to see because I'm out there in the game [and] I think I'm playing hard. But until he actually shows you the film and it's totally different -- film never lies."
After an impressive preseason in which he averaged 11.3 points per game, the 19-year-old was handed the starting shooting guard spot right away by Wizards coach Randy Wittman. Beal missed his first jump shot but hit his next two, both 3-pointers. But from there his impact faded. In the second quarter, he was stripped by fellow rookie Dion Waiters -- the fourth overall pick in June's draft, immediately after Washington picked Beal -- who finished with an uncontested slam that helped the Cavaliers build a 16-point advantage.
Wittman saw some of the same body language when Beal struggled in the Wizards' final preseason game against San Antonio.
"He's going to have some ups and downs," Wittman said. "One thing, he can't lose the focus of making and missing shots affecting his overall play. ... He's got to get back to being the guy with the bounce in his step and moving all along. He's lost a little bit of that."
Beal, who finished with eight points, three rebounds and three assists, wasn't the only player who didn't look comfortable. Trevor Booker picked up two quick offensive fouls, was 2-for-9 shooting and finished with only a single rebound. As a team the Wizards shot 8-for-32 from 3-point range but also struggled in the paint. But it wasn't for a lack of trying to do what Wittman wanted.
"I don't think it was in a selfish way," Wittman said. "I think it was the adrenaline just flowing so high, 'I'm going to go have the greatest game I can have,' and it just snowballs into nothing but bad things."
The Wizards (0-1) have two more days before their first home game of the year against Boston (0-1). Booker preferred to get back on the court right away, but Beal was content to let the tough lessons from his first NBA game set in. After all, the expectations on his shoulders, particularly while John Wall and Nene remain injured, aren't likely to diminish.
"It's pretty tough," Beal said. "From the outside looking in, people always look at you to be a hero, but to me and my teammates, it's not just me. It's me and 14, 15 other guys on this team. It's a group effort. I just can't go out there and score 60 points and win. It's a team, collective effort. As long as we stick to the game plan, we'll be fine."