School: Florida | Year: Freshman | Age: 18 | Born: June 28, 1993 | Position: SG
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 207 | From: St. Louis, MO | Best Case Scenario: Eric Gordon
After ending his freshman season with a loss in the quarter finals to Louisville in the final minutes, Bradley Beal chose to enter the 2012 NBA Draft and will be a potential top 5 pick. A shooting guard with good size and average height standing at 6’3” and 207 pounds, Beal has an above average wingspan for his height at 6’8” and a decent vertical leap. He has the potential to be a high volume scorer in the NBA due to his tremendous shooting mechanics and success scoring both off the ball and off the dribble. Most importantly, Beal is an extremely mature player and plays the game with rare composure and high basketball IQ.
After being dubbed the best shooter in his high school class, Beal was inconsistent this season from three-point range. However, he possesses excellent shooting technique and has a consistent release point while rarely missing left or right. His shot requires very little space and time to get off, and whether he is shooting spotted up or off of the dribble, he is able to consistently square his body up to the basket. Off the drive, Beal is able to make a move and stop his momentum on a dime to get enough separation to get shots up over his defender. His midrange game is still improving, but his ability to get separation from his defender and get shot looks virtually anywhere on the floor make him a potentially lethal scorer shooting the ball. Beal is also able to use the floater effectively when driving into crowded lanes and has soft touch around the basket. When driving, he is able to absorb contact due to his compact strength. His lack of height and athleticism make it difficult for him to score through traffic, but his motor and strength allow him to draw fouls and to get to the free throw line at a reasonable rate.
With the ball in his hands, Beal possesses good handles and is very comfortable dribbling in the open court. While he is not the most explosive prospect, he has a good first step and commits to the moves he makes with no hesitation. However, he has room to grow as a ball handler and needs to improve on the dribble-drive when penetrating the defense. If he does not continue to improve his dribbling, he may shy away from driving on NBA defenses and become too dependent on his jump shot on the offensive end.
As a passer, Beal has shown glimpses of being a good distributor but has remained inconsistent in the area. With the ball in his hands, he waits for plays to develop and is very patient while possessing good court vision. When encountering the double team, he is able to find the open teammates and to create easy opportunities for others. However, Beal can tend to force contested shots and pass into crowded lanes when there are better options available. Because of his excellent feel for the game and high basketball IQ, he has the potential to be a very efficient passer for a 2 guard.
Beal has an uncanny resemblance to New Orleans Hornets SG Eric Gordon, both physically and in their style of play. Gordon has become one of the most proficient scorers in the NBA when healthy, and Beal would greatly benefit from studying Gordon’s play.
He was a pleasant surprise as a rebounder this season, and his high rebounding rate can be largely attributed to his motor and strength. At only 6’3”, Beal will likely not have a large impact rebounding in the NBA. However, he is relentless when pursuing loose balls, efficiently anticipating where the ball will end up from watching its trajectory. He is able to put himself in the right spots at the right times.
Beal is a versatile defender and is able to effectively defend both SGs and PGs. He possesses great defensive instincts and good lateral quickness, allowing him to stick with quick opponents. He has a low center of gravity and an excellent motor, using his compact strength to create difficulty for guards to power past him. Beal is a very smart help side defender and is effective when trapping opponents, using his quick hands to pick the ball loose and create turnovers for the opposing team. His build makes him effective at getting through screens and he can help to take away the threat of the pick-and-roll from the offense. Beal is a patient defender and maintains good defensive positioning, rarely biting a ball fakes.
It is very much up in the air what type of player Beal will be in the NBA. He has all the tools necessary to be a good slashing and shooting SG, but if he gets away from driving to the basket it is possible that he will become a specialist shooter. He needs to improve upon his off-ball game as much as his on-ball game in order to maintain the versatility he played with during his short time at the University of Florida. While not possessing elite defensive potential, Beal has the strength and quickness necessary to be an effective perimeter defender in the NBA.
Follow Bradley Beal on Twitter @RealDealBeal23
Photo Credits: Matt Stamey/GatorSports.com