As the face of the Washington Wizards franchise, and the team's floor general, point guard John Wall is generally looked upon as the main ingredient to the Wizards' success. But Wall is having to share some of the spotlight of late with his backcourt mate, shooting guard Bradley Beal, who might someday be just as important to the Wizards' future.
In a surprise move, it was Beal, not Wall, who was selected as a member of the 2014-16 USA Basketball Men's National Team. Beal, along with 28 other players, will be a part of the USA Men's National Team pool, the team from which the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team will be chosen. USA Basketball announced its selections Jan. 23.
"I am thrilled to be able to continue to compete as a member of USA Basketball," Beal said, "and I look forward to the chance to represent my country. Being part of this team is a tremendous honor and a great opportunity for me to learn and develop as a player."
Beal is no stranger to international competition. He participated in the 2013 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp and was also on the 2010 Under-17 World Championship and 2009 Under-16 Championship teams. Beal also played for the USA Basketball Junior National Select Team at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit.
It was just the beginning during a week of accolades for Beal, a second-year guard for the Wizards. On Jan. 29, Beal was chosen to participate in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, which will be held Feb. 14 in New Orleans during NBA All-Star Weekend. Beal played in the game last year, his rookie season. He scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-4 3-pointers and four assists during 22 minutes.
Beal's recent injury is still a concern. He is currently restricted to 30 minutes per game as he recovers from a stress injury to his right leg. Beal said he hoped to play during All-Star Weekend, but would discuss the situation with the Wizards' training staff before making a decision. Beal and Wizards coach Randy Wittman both said they are hopeful that the minute restriction could be lifted soon.
In 35 games for the Wizards this season, Beal is averaging 17.1 points, which is third among second-year players; 3.8 rebounds; 3.2 assists; and 1.03 steals per game. Beal is the Wizards' second-leading scorer behind Wall, who leads the team with 19.8 points per game.
Beal's growth and maturity have been evident this season. He has said that whenever he gets off to a bad start or has a bad game, he simply develops amnesia, puts it behind him and keeps on shooting. During the Wizards' 88-85 win against the Golden State Warriors Jan. 28, Beal got off to a slow start, scoring two points during the first half. He rallied to score 18 during the second half, and his 20 points led the team during the win.
"I didn't lose my confidence or anything like that," Beal said. "I knew in the second half I needed to step up for this team to be able to win."
Apparently, his teammates feel exactly the same way.