“He may have been as mature as any player I’ve ever been around,” Donovan said. “He has all the intangibles to be a great, great pro and play for a long time. I think he’ll be totally fine. I don’t feel like there is anything that will be thrown his way next year that he won’t be able to handle.”
A rookie initiation
Beal got off to a great start as a member of the Wizards’ Summer League team in Las Vegas. He averaged 17.6 points and 1.8 assists and was named to the all-Summer League team. Next came training camp, where he continued to show an almost veteran-like consistency.
The even-keeled rookie said he hasn’t faced too many surprises his first month in the NBA, but he is starting to realize just how much of the game is played between the ears.
“What I’ve learned so far is the mental aspect of the game and how good these guys actually are,” Beal said. “It’s not just physically how strong they are, it’s the mentality. They’re a lot smarter, they know how to get in your head and know how to take things away from you. These are grown men, and I’m just a little 19-year-old kid. It’s a big thing to have to adjust to.”
His teammates have given him a few reminders of just how young he is, although the rookie hazing has been pretty mild. He had to tie Trevor Ariza’s shoe during a training camp scrimmage in front of several hundred fans at George Mason, which he called “pretty embarrassing.” He also had to sing happy birthday to Jordan Crawford, who turned 24 on Oct. 23.
He’s also spent time with John Wall, who is sidelined with a stress injury to his left patella and expects to miss the first month of the season. The Wizards‘ star guard is at practice every day, though, working on stationary drills and shooting. Even without playing together, the two seem to be developing a chemistry.
“He’s very talented,” Wall said. “He’s somebody that can shoot the ball very well. He’s showing people he can attack the basket and also make plays.
“He’s mature for his age, and he’s not really having an issue with letting the game come to him.”
“We can help each other,” the three-year veteran said. “I think it will help me a lot to have somebody to kick it to who can knock it down.”
He’s also given his future backcourt running mate a little advice.
“There’s going to be some games he’s going to play good, some games he’s going to be down,” Wall said. “But as long as he knows there’s going to be 82 games and the whole team is behind him, he’ll be all right.”
Wizards coach Randy Wittman says he hasn’t settled on a starting lineup, and might not do so until Tuesday morning, hours before the Wizards open the season at Cleveland. One of his favorite things about Beal, Wittman says, is it doesn’t matter how you use him.