Since talks about the NBA draft started to surface a few months ago, my favorite prospect has still not changed. Bradley Beal, a freshmen two guard coming out of Florida, is one of the most complete, yet humble, players in the 2012 draft class. While his work ethic during combine workouts had him soaring up draft boards, Beal is no longer projected to fall as low as pick No. 4 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Realistically, if the Cavaliers want to make a move for Beal they will most likely have to maneuver their way up in the draft order.
Mock drafts predicting the Cavaliers to select Beal at No. 4 are few and far between, with most experts saying that Cleveland will have to do trade with the Charlotte Bobcats (pick No. 2) or the Washington Wizards (pick No. 3). This tells a lot about a player who only played one collegiate season and is considered small for his position.
Beal is drawing comparisons to players such as Ray Allen, who is reportedly taking his talents to South Beach, but Allen outperformed Beal in his freshmen season at Connecticut. Allen shot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from beyond the three-point arc and this past season Beal shot 45 percent from the floor and 34 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Beal might not match up with Allen in shooting statistics, but the former Gator is a combo-threat player.
Beal is a much better rebounder than Allen was at this stage in his career. He averaged 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals, while also showing strength in taking the ball up court as a point guard. His shot has been compared to Allen, which is saying a lot because Allen is considered one of the best pure shooters in the game. This is exactly the kid who Cleveland is looking to supplement Kyrie Irving.
He will be able to make quick catch-and-shoot shots from Irving in a much faster offensive scheme. He is also known to be an explosive scorer, as he averaged 32.5 points at Chaminade Prep while being named Gatorade National Player of the Year and being an McDonald’s All-American. Beal also led the under-17 and under-16 U.S. teams to gold medals.
Here is what his U-17 coach had to saw about Beal in 2011:
I think he’s going to be a better rebounder than Ray Allen was. I think he’s going to be better at going to the basket. I think he’s got a better game of getting the ball to the basket. He’s a great shooter like Ray Allen. I think he’s got some things that in the future are going to make him a longtime NBA player and All-Star.He has achieved these accomplishments because of his work ethic and humbleness. For training Beal’s mother made him drive thru the lane against his two 230-pound-plus older brothers. Although he was the only child to not play football in the family, he still let his older brothers toughen him up to make sure he was NBA-ready.
He has title-contending teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs looking to trade key players to move up in the draft to get him. Teams are looking at complete, young players like Beal, who turns 19 on the day of the draft. Although not even 20, Beal has already shown high levels of maturity, as he maintains a 3.8 GPA and had to make the tough decision of leaving behind a team that had Final Four hopes going into next season. Beal averaged 14.6 points in his one year.
Jay Bilas even thinks that Beal is the second-most coveted player in the draft:
How could you not need a guard who’s got that kind of of ability? I think he’s terrific. He’d be a great backcourt mate for Kyrie Irving. If Cleveland moved up to No. 2 — Charlotte has been talking to people about trading down into the draft — that would be a terrific combo. There’s very few teams he wouldn’t work well with a good point guard. He’s tremendous.
Beal did show signs of shooting weakness early in the season, as he had some bad single-digit outings with a 2-15 shooting night against UAB on January 3 and had a season-worst 10 percent shooting night against No. 1 Kentucky on March 4. He has his weaknesses, but he managed to fix those as the season progressed.
As it is still unknown where Beal will end up going to in the draft, it is known that out of Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Beal, three players that the Cavaliers have been strongly considering drafting, Beal has the most reliable jump shot of any of those players. That’s something that Kyrie will need in the absence of Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison.
Draft day is here, and soon the Cavaliers name will be called to continue building onto their young and talented team. Whether Bradley Beal is part of those plans is yet to be determined.