56, 73, 63, and 55. Those are the total amount of games that Bradley Beal has played in each of his four seasons so far in the NBA. Out of the 247 games that he has made an appearance in, 213 of them were in a starting role. He started every game that he played in only one of these four seasons. However, Beal is still just 22 years old, and he does possess a knockdown shooting stroke that is very sought after in today’s NBA.
The question that popped into my head as soon as Beal said that he feels he’s a max player is whether or not he’s playing at a max deal level. First of all, none of this means that I think he won’t get a max, because, as I said before, Beal is a knockdown shooter and there will be teams who will overpay for that skill. All I’m here to do is say that I do not believe that he is at a max contract level of play, and there aren’t many signs pointing to the fact that he’ll get to that level.
Beal’s exact quote about being a max player, via the Washington Post:
“I want to be valued the right way,” Beal, 22, said from Japan, where he visited as part of a promotional tour for the NBA and attended a playoff viewing party with fans. “I feel like I’m a max player and that’s what I’m looking for. If Washington can’t meet that requirement then I may be thinking elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that they probably won’t [let me go]. At the end of the day, that’s where I want to be. I think a deal will probably get done but you just never know.”
So, Beal seems to be almost expecting the Wizards to extend a max deal his way, even though some of his injuries left the Wizards very short-handed and resulted in being bounced of the playoffs or the playoff picture as a whole in the regular season. Beal himself even said at a point in time that he might need a minute restriction for the rest of his career.
Beyond the injury bug, Beal hasn’t shown a steady improvement over the four seasons that he’s been with the Wizards. His latest season was the best in terms of overall field goal percentage and points per game (by only .3), but his three-point percentage has fluctuated. He hasn’t proven that he brings much more to the table other than a three-point shot that hovers in the range of 38-40%. In terms of defense, his best defensive rating for a season has only been 105, and his best defensive box plus/minus was an even 0.0. He’s only put together 13.4 win shares in four seasons with an average 0.080 win shares per 48 minutes (for comparison, the league average is .100). For a little icing on the cake, about 53% of his two-point field goals and 89% of his three-point field goals have all been assisted.
Well, now you’re probably thinking, “So, what does all that really mean?” What I’m showing here is that Bradley Beal is very comparable to a player like Kyle Korver — a shooter that can start on an above average team, but he’s not going to make that kind of team a championship contender. Beal is the type of player that a contender could sign to come off the bench and get them over the hump. That does not mean his play equates to a max contract.
If you ask me, a contract around $9-11 million per year would be a fair price for Beal. Of course, we all know that contracts are more based on need and the player’s desire, so a max contract could very well be in Beal’s future, even if his skill level doesn’t necessarily call for one.