Lingering on the practice court Monday afternoon, Bradley Beal put up a few extra 3-point shots just because he now can.
Beal had surgery to repair a non-displaced fracture of the scaphoid bone in his left (non-shooting) wrist Oct. 12. Monday was his first full practice with the Wizards since.
There were no restrictions. Beal worked on a treadmill, did sprints and practiced one-handed releases when his wrist was healing. He was giddy after finally being able to practice.
“It was pretty good,” Beal said. “Just being able to get my wind back and get into the flow of things and try to get a little bit of rhythm back. It was definitely fun. I was happy to be back and excited.”
The Wizards’ 7-2 start without Beal is their best opening run since the 1974-75 season. This week brings the sternest test of the early season. The 7-3 Dallas Mavericks, who lead the league in scoring, come to Verizon Center on Wednesday. Friday, LeBron James will bring a swarm of media and fans to the building when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit. Sitting behind that revved-up evening is a tricky game in Milwaukee on Saturday against the 5-5 Bucks.
Their record, and Beal trying to allow good sense to trump desperation to return, could influence when he is actually back on the court.
“Just to be smart about it, if I’m not comfortable or confident in myself,” Beal said of picking a day. “Because knowing me, I’m just going to be a warrior and a competitor and try to get back out there as much as I can.”
He was reportedly looking at Friday for a return date.
“I don’t know who told you guys Friday,” Beal said. “I’m just going off how I feel. I didn’t tell anybody Friday.”
The 6-foot-5 shooter out of Florida is in his third season with the Wizards. He averaged 17.1 points per game last season, a significant uptick from the 13.9 he averaged in his rookie season.
Without Beal, the Wizards have used Garrett Temple as the starting shooting guard. Temple is averaging a career-high 9.1 points, but has been limited offensively the last four games. During that period, Temple is shooting 2-for-18 (11.1 percent).
Rasual Butler has also contributed at shooting guard while Beal healed. Butler is averaging 12.3 points the last three games and is a blistering 15-for-20 (75 percent) from the field.
Coach Randy Wittman was predictably precautionary when talking about Beal. Wittman said Beal will work out again Tuesday morning before participating in another practice. Wittman takes everything day-by-day and his approach to Beal’s return will be no different.
“We’ll have to wait these next two days,” Wittman said. “It’s all about soreness. If there is any. How he’s feeling. If his legs are heavy. Obviously, you don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s not ready to go out there and play and pull a muscle or something because of that.
“Again, we’ll see and hear in [Tuesday morning’s session]. Get him to work out in the morning again, then let him go through practice and evaluate it again. I don’t want to get into speculating right now. This is his first practice and we don’t know what 24 hours is going to bring here.”
Beal said his pain is sporadic and limited. When he catches a pass or is slapped on the wrist, he has a flash of pain that is flushed out by adrenaline.
The good start and crisp work of the fill-ins left Beal in a joking mood.
“Maybe I should sit out for 30 more games,” Beal said. “I don’t want to come in and ruin the chemistry. But, I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine whenever I decide to come back. Just being able to get out there and do what I am capable of doing.”
The Wizards will take that.