Appreciating Bradley Beal’s underappreciated season

No one expected the Wizards’ season to go like this. Optimists thought this team was one puzzle piece away from catapulting themselves back into the top of the Eastern Conference. Pessimists thought even if things didn’t click, this team had too much talent and would be in playoff contention even if it was at a lower seed.

In a season that alternates between going off the rails and powering through the NBA’s best teams, the only consistent has been inconsistency. Even with all the turmoil in D.C. and uncertainty about if the Wizards will be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, Bradley Beal is quietly turning in the best season of his career to date.

He got off to a slow start, like the rest of the team. He struggled on defense and only connected on 31.5 percent of this three-point attempts in November. It led to rumblings from the Wizards faithful about whether he had lost his shooting touch.

Things changed for Beal once the calendar flipped to December. As John Wall bounced in and out of the lineup, Beal‘s usage jumped from 23.9 percent to 28.6 percent. As his scoring increased, he also showed improvement as a facilitator, averaging nearly one full assist more in December than he did in November.

Beal has rounded out his game to where he’s a legitimate threat on all points of the court — and he’s showing it nightly. Beal has scored at least 20 points in all but two games since the start of December. He‘s had seven 30-point games and two 40-point games in that span. Defenses have zeroed in on Beal even more in the last eight games after Wall went down for good, but he has responded by averaging 27.8 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game while guiding Washington to a 5-3 record.

Brad is putting up the best numbers of his career and is logging a boatload of minutes, but his outstanding season is going unrecognized on a national level since the Wizards aren’t in the playoff hunt. As we know, the NBA All-Star Game is a popularity contest and that couldn’t be any more clear as guys like Dwyane WadeZach LaVineJeremy Lin, and Goran Dragic have more votes than Beal after the second round of the fan balloting.

As it stands, the Wizards are in the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the eighth seed. It’s anyone’s guess whether the front office will make another desperation trade for a playoff push, or if Washington will be sellers come the trade deadline. But through all the noise and chaos in a season that has felt more like four seasons, Bradley Beal is turning in the best year of his career and is making a case for why he’s the best shooting guard in the league.

It’s time to grasp how special this season has been for Beal as otherwise, it will probably go unnoticed amidst the rest of the chaos around surrounding the franchise.

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