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Bradley Beal making push for All-NBA team

March 17, 2019

Bradley Beal woke up Saturday morning mad. The Wizards star rose out of bed at 6 a.m., restless from his team’s loss the night before.

With his seven-month-old son still asleep, Beal watched television. It didn’t help. Eventually, his wife convinced him to lay back down for a few hours. But the loss a pivotal 116-110 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets, despite Beal’s 40 points remained on his mind throughout the day.

“It wasn’t out of the ordinary,” Beal said, “but last night really killed me.”

Come that evening, with Washington on the second night of a back-to-back, Beal worked out his frustration on the court.

In a 135-128 win against the Memphis Grizzlies, Beal was, again, spectacular. He erupted for another 40 points, draining a career-high nine 3-pointers along the way. It the type of performance that served as a reminder of how far Beal has progressed in his seven seasons especially when factoring in that he played 45 minutes on Friday.

And in the Wizards’ eyes, Beal’s season deserves to be rewarded by being named to an All-NBA team for the first time.

“The way he’s improved, the way he’s led, my very biased opinion he’s All-NBA the way he’s playing,” coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s doing things that that level of player does night in and night out. It’s not an every-other-night [thing], it’s not a two-out-of-three nights, it’s every night he brings it.”

Only 15 players can make All-NBA, with five players named to each of the three teams. The teams are decided annually by media members and can carry real-life financial ramifications.

If Beal is named to an All-NBA team this year, he’ll be eligible to be offered the “Designated Player Veteran Extension,” commonly known as the supermax, this summer. Under it, players can receive a four-year extension worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap.

That would be quite the raise for Beal, whose contract expires in 2021. He would also be in rare company; only four players John Wall, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Stephen Curry have signed a supermax extension.

But there is no guarantee Beal makes All-NBA this year. There are only six guard spots available (two on each team) and Curry, Harden, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving are considered locks for the first four spots. That leaves voters having to decide two spots from a pool of worthy candidates such as Beal, Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Ben Simmons and Klay Thompson.

Still, Beal is making a strong case for one of the spots. Since the All-Star Break, he’s averaging 31.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. He’s been ruthlessly efficient shooting 50 percent on 22 shots per game and 40 percent from deep.

And Beal’s workload isn’t slowing down. He leads the league in minutes and in the 12 games since the All-Star Break, Beal is averaging 40.2 minutes per outing almost two full minutes more than the next player (Paul George, 38.3).

“We’re going to ride (him) until the wheels fall off,” teammate Jabari Parker said.

Beal, however, might be facing an uphill battle with voters. Washington’s lack of overall success could come back to hurt him.

Looking at this decade, Anthony Davis (2016-17), Kevin Love (2011-12, 2013-14) and DeMarcus Cousins (2014-15, 2015-16) are the only players to make an All-NBA team but miss the playoffs. None of those players are guards, either. And with just 12 games left, the Wizards remain three games back of the postseason.

But Beal appears willing to campaign for himself.

Asked after Saturday’s win about Brooks’ thoughts about him being deserving of All-NBA, Beal flipped the question back at the reporter before raising his voice to survey the larger group around him.

“All in favor say, ‘Aye,’” Beal said.

Beal got the answer he was looking for. He walked out of the locker room, his point made.

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