At the Wizards home opener on Saturday against the Boston Celtics, rookie Bradley Beal was the last player introduced.
Beal didn’t do a 31-second dance, a la John Wall two seasons ago, or anything else even remotely demonstrative. The 19-year-old rookie, who was playing in front of his parents and four brothers, was almost solemn as he joined his teammates on the court.
Beal was expected to come off the bench for the Wizards behind Jordan Crawford, who started for the Wizards at shooting guard last year after Nick Young was traded. But coach Randy Wittman has thrown Beal right into the fire.
It’s a situation made even more difficult by the absence of John Wall and Nene. Along with the rest of the starting lineup – Trevor Ariza (small forward), Trevor Booker (power forward), Emeka Okafor (center), and A.J. Price (point guard) - Beal is struggling to score.
Players on opposing teams are closing in on him and not letting him get hos shot off. Beal in turn isn’t being very aggressive on offense.
“On offense, I wasn’t involved really, Beal said after the game against Boston. “I wasn’t being aggressive. I wasn’t asserting myself. It’s upon me. It’s not my coach’s fault, the players’ fault. It’s on me. I have to be responsible for it. I basically have to step up.”
Jordan Crawford, who rarely met a shot he didn’t like, had some advice for his teammate.
“It’s not in his game to force it, he’d like to let the game come to him,” Crawford said. “I think, you know, as a two guard in this league, you’ve got to be aggressive and bring some of that attention to you on defense and open up everything for other players.”
Wittman’s advice for the only rookie on his squad is even more basic.
“He’s just go to play through it.”