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Bradley Beal’s Shot Selection in Opener a Good Sign for Wizards

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

It was an up-and-down game for the Washington Wizards against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. After exploding for 31 points in the first quarter, the team’s new-look offense screeched to a halt, tallying just 57 points the rest of the way. John Wall was truly spectacular, and the team was able to pull out an 88-87 win due to his wizardry (pun intended) down the stretch.

Bradley Beal had an up-and-down game as well. After a couple of ugly early turnovers, Beal rebounded to pour in 24 points on 19 shots. He did not, however, shoot well from three-point range, going just 2-of-8.

But since this was the first game, the eight attempts matter more than the two makes. Beal’s not going to shoot that poorly every night, as he’s a career 39.8 percent shooter from three.

The big complaint with Beal’s game to this point in his career has been his propensity to shoot long twos and not enough threes. Beal talked in the offseason about eliminating some of these long twos, and it showed in the opener.

Beal found himself outside the arc more often, and trusted Wall to find him there. Wall is one of the best point guards in the league at finding the open man in the corner, and Beal should be that guy. When a good shooter can rely on passes like this, it’s a deadly weapon:

That’s an unreal pass from Wall, but he does that sort of thing every game. Beal needs to take advantage of that and get open looks from the corner.

The great thing about Beal’s three-point attempts is that they came so naturally in the offense. It’s not a matter of Beal dramatically changing his game, but rather starting a few steps back or taking a spot-up shot rather than a dribble inside the arc for a two.

There’s still some work to be done, though. Beal still took five shots in between 18 and 21 feet, which is too many for a good three-point shooter:

Beal could’ve caught this pass ready to shoot a three, but instead opted to take a dribble inside the arc for a long two. It’s likely Beal was concerned about the close out by Aaron Gordon to start the play, but then he has to master the side escape to stay behind the line. His dribble inside the arc actually made it a tougher shot, as Victor Oladipo could get close enough to contest him. If Beal instead slid to the corner behind the line, his shot would’ve been more open and a three-pointer. Even though he hit this shot, it wasn’t the best shot he could’ve taken.

It may be a work in progress, but it was a good first game for Beal in terms of shot selection. He’s not going to take eight threes a game (only Stephen Curry did that last year), but he should take a leap up from his 4.1 last season. If he can bump that number up to six a game, it’ll go a long way in improving his efficiency.

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