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- Measurables: 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, freshman guard from Florida
- Key Stats: 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals per game, 45 percent shooting, 34 percent 3-point shooting
- Projected: Top five
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I like this guy
The Pistons are a longshot to pick in the top five of this year’s draft, but that rightly hasn’t stopped fans from playing out ‘what-if’ scenarios with guys like Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Andre Drummond landing on the Pistons in their heads. One consensus top five guy who Pistons fans haven’t talked much about, thought, is Beal, simply because as a shooting guard, he plays a position where the Pistons seem to have some depth.
But, to repeat a question I asked in the Jeremy Lamb profile, what if the Pistons are in a position to draft and Beal is the best player on the board? Do you reach for a more limited big or do you just take the best player, in this unlikely scenario Beal, and figure out what to do with Brandon Knight or Rodney Stuckey later? Stuckey had a really good second half of the season before falling off a bit late. Knight had a rookie season that was rough around the edges, but still one that I’d describe as having more ups than downs and he obviously has some impressive physical abilities that he’s yet to fully figure out how to unleash yet. I like both players and I assume the Pistons do too, but that doesn’t mean they should necessarily consider themselves set at either guard spot. Beal has the potential to be a really special shooting guard.
Pros for the Pistons
Interestingly, there are parts of Beal’s game that remind me some of Stuckey. Beal, as just a freshman, is already built like a tank, similar to how Stuckey came into the league. Knight came in after his freshman season clearly needing to get stronger in his upper body, but Beal will have no such adjustments to make. Like Stuckey, he’s also a pretty good rebounder for a guard. Offensively, he’s probably more advanced at his age than Stuckey was at a comparable age because Beal can not only penetrate and finish, he has range out to the 3-point line. Stuckey’s jumper, as we all know, has been a work in progress much of his career, and this is really the first season where he’s shown he’s comfortable taking the 3-pointer that teams always give him.
If the Pistons ended up with Beal, it could also be the second straight year they end up with one of the draft’s youngest players. Beal doesn’t turn 19 until the day of this year’s draft. As we saw with Knight, giving a 19-year-old a big role off the bat can lead to some erratic play, but at the same time, it would be pretty cool for any team to be able to say they have two dynamic guards who aren’t even 21 yet.
The obvious issue is that taking a player like Beal would mean the Pistons have to figure out what to do with their guard rotation. The good news, if he’s amenable to it, is that Stuckey can be effective at either guard spot. The Pistons have a player in Ben Gordon who may or may not be a part of their long-term future. If they find a way to rid themselves of his contract, they could shift Stuckey to the third guard role, give him all of the backup minutes at both spots and although he may not be starting, he’d be getting plenty of time on the court and, until Knight and/or Beal develops, still be the best guard on the team. Stuckey off the bench would also be a nice tool for Lawrence Frank to have. As we saw this season, Frank gave young building blocks Knight and Greg Monroe a lot of leeway, but occasionally if their energy/defense/focus dropped too much, he didn’t hesitate to bench them. With Stuckey pushing both young guards, Frank would have a capable veteran on his bench who would gladly take their minutes and play productively at either spot.
Cons for the Pistons
Jumping up in the draft is great and all, and landing a player with Beal’s upside would definitely benefit the Pistons, but for the second straight draft, it would mean they neglected the roster’s most glaring weakness, the frontcourt. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing — I’m a big supporter of the best player available regardless of position philosophy in most cases. But because of their cap situation (they won’t have cap room even if they amnesty a big contract) and because their big money veterans aren’t exactly highly sought after trade commodities right now, the draft is the best route to land an impact big. Unfortunately, it also relies on who teams in front of them take. Big men are needed on just about every team, so the Pistons could find themselves in a spot where the best bigs are all gone.
As for Beal’s weaknesses, he’s kind of similar to Knight last year. Like Knight, Beal was a highly prized high school recruit. Like Knight, he had an inconsistent freshman season. Like Knight, his draft stock is based much more on tantalizing potential rather than proven effectiveness at the college level. I’m not saying any of those things should make the Pistons not consider Beal, but with a player on the roster in Knight who is already similar developmentally, adding another player who needs a lot of minutes and a lot of freedom to overcome mistakes probably wouldn’t be the optimum goal they’d have coming out of this draft.
What others are saying
The only real concern scouts have about Beal is his depressed shooting numbers from this season. Billed as a lights out, Ray Allen-type shooter coming out of his school, Beal shot just 34 percent from 3 this season. Some scouts attribute that to Beal playing out of position all season and never really getting much in the way of spot up 3s. Others believe it’s a fluke. However, if Beal isn’t as good of a shooter as he’s been billed, his value in the league will go down.
Beal is generally a good decision maker, showing excellent maturity making the extra pass to an open shooter on the perimeter or feeding his big men inside the post, never looking rushed or flustered, which is impressive considering his age and lack of experience. He’s obviously earned the trust of his coaching staff, as he leads the team in minutes played, despite being surrounded by a host of guards who are significantly older than him.
Beal is a solid prospect with good ability on offense … His jump shot is outstanding, his ability to score off the bounce from mid-range is also great, he’s got a pretty good body for a young SG, and he’s a strong defender too … He’s not a tremendous athlete or ball-handler though, and thus struggles some as a finisher and slasher, but he does have great upside as an off-ball scorer at the SG spot.
Brandon, the pleaser and eldest child, starred at both of his parents’ sports. Good enough to score 1,000 points on the basketball court, he also caught a team-best 34 passes from his tight end position in high school.
What is the best thing Bradley Beal does for his team?
Quite simply: Everything. The maturity and talent of Brad Beal at 18 years old is seriously uncanny. As a freshman at Florida, he started all 37 games while leading the team in minutes played and finishing second in scoring (14.8 ppg). At 6-foot-4, Beal was even the Gators best rebounder on a team that includes 6-foot-9 center Patric Young, who scouts have pegged as a lottery pick since his junior year of high school. He can do it all, and he’s willing to do whatever is asked of him. From creating his own shot, finishing at the rim or defending the opposition’s best player, Beal is up to the task. While some mention Beal and Ray Allen in the same breath, Beal will have to seriously improve his outside shot at the next level to invoke comparisons to the perennial 20-point scorer. He shot just less than 34 percent from beyond the arc on 186 attempts in his only season as a Gator. However, if there’s one true similarity between the two other than the tangible attributes it’s killer instinct. During the Gators’ tournament run that fell one game shy of the Final Four, Beal averaged 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists on 53 percent shooting including 46 percent from long range.
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