Washington Wizards point guard John Wall spoke to CSN Mid-Atlantic about the relationship between he and backcourt mate Bradley Beal in an interview that was released on Tuesday afternoon, and in the discussion with J. Michael, Wall revealed that he and Beal have a “tendency to dislike” one another on the court.
Wall also recognized that this penchant between the two is something that needs to be laid to rest if they plan to hit the pinnacles many assumed they’d reach at this point in their careers. Injury, mostly to Beal, has averted the duo from the sustained success that other guard pairings such as Chris Paul/J.J. Redick, Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson and Kyle Lowry/DeMar DeRozan have relished in.
Since Beal’s rookie year in 2012-13, he and Wall have only played in a total of 211 out of a possible 312 games together.
Number of games Wall & Beal have played together, year by year:
2012-13: 25 of 66
2013-14: 73 of 82
2014-15: 61 of 82
2015-16: 52 of 82
— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) August 23, 2016
While Beal was tussling with ailments and dressed in street clothes for sizable portions of the last three seasons, Wall played in 82, 79 and 77 games, respectively, making three consecutive All-Star teams and finishing second in assists per game in 2014 (8.8), and 2015 (10), and third in 2016 (10.2).
Wall shepherded Washington’s attack, extending their campaign into the postseason two of the three seasons.
In addition to the huge discrepancy in games-played between the two, Wall must also be ticked at the substantial variance in salary between he and Beal. Obviously the two signed their extension under different salary cap thresholds, with Wall signing an $80 million, five-year deal in 2013 when the cap was $58.7 million, and Beal’s $128 million, five-year pact coming under a $94.1 million cap.
In sports, monetary figures obviously fluctuate, and I’m certain Wall understands not only this, but that his day to bathe in big bucks is coming. He must be miffed at the fact that a guy who has struggled to stay on the court is being compensated in such a grand fashion. He even addressed this in his chat with Michael.
“Now that you have your money you got to go out there and improve your game. I want you to be an All-Star just as much as I’m an All-Star. If we were playing well as a tandem like the other two superstars that play together as a backcourt, play as a tandem, one night it’s going to be his night, one night it’s going to be mine, some nights it might be both of us. Those are nights it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
Let’s not get it twisted: it’s certainly feasible that Beal reaches an All-Star level. He quietly had a strong start to the season for Washington, averaging 19.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest on 43.8% from the field and 39% from three (plus this nasty dagger against the Spurs) in the first twenty of games of the season before feeling a nibble by the injury bug, one that shelved him for 16 games.
Once Beal returned, Washington implemented a minutes restriction that lasted till nearly the end of the season to shield him from any further damage, hindering his ability to establish a real rhythm.
The question we pose now is, can Beal stay healthy and coax the pressure that is now bestowed upon him with his contract and his point guard’s words? Talent has never been the hitch with this guy, but health is another dreadful story that Wizards fans have thumbed through too many times.
During Washington’s wayward 41-41 season, several veterans branded the Wizards’ backcourt as “hard-headed,” a declaration that may have more accuracy than initially thought after the eking out of this report.
Beal and Wall’s friction may stem from their reluctance to conform to each other and or their teammates ways, or uncertainty over their roles. Whatever the case may be, it’s up to new director Scott Brooks to amend these issues and put on the best show possible with this cast of characters.
Mostly everyone knows whose name should be first on the playbill, even if the checkbook construes it differently.
If winning is of the upmost importance, the pecking order shouldn’t matter right now. Beal is the one with the checkered on-court history thanks to injury, and now it’s his time to prove he’s worthy of his deal, which is all Wall wants.