It’s off-season player rankings! Cue confetti and pyrotechnics.
Every year, as the NBA calendar slows to a halt due to free agency, media from around the world evaluate the league’s best players. While some may argue that this is a pointless exercise, these types of lists are also undeniably interesting to discuss.
They can also provide a valuable resource for comparing league talent. For example, no matter how you feel about the value of the top 100 players list, if one team has a lot of players on that list, it’s probably a pretty good team.
Player rating lists are starting to leak across the internet, and so far they reflect a bad year for Bradley Beal. This all sort of goes back to what Wizards President Tommy Sheppard said right after the end of the 2021-22 season. This was before the team re-signed Beal to a five-year supermax contract.
Sheppard felt Beal was about to be written off after playing a career-high 40 games last season and scoring 30% of three.
“I see a lot of information about Bradley and I’m a little curious, oh my god, are we talking about the same player? He is a special player, one of the best in his place in the NBA.” Sheppard said.
Some recent ranking lists follow suit. The Athletic recently ranked the top 125 players in the NBA. breaking it down into tiers. Beal was at level 3B and ranked 32nd among all NBA players. Although Beal was at the same level a year earlier, he was 24th overall. This in itself may have been insignificant as Beal had just made the All-NBA, which honors the top 15 players in the league.
Another recent list may surprise you. Hoops Hype ranked the best shooting guards in the NBA and has Bill sixth. He’s behind 1) Devin Booker 2) Donovan Mitchell 3) Jaylen Brown 4) Zach LaVine and 5) Anthony Edwards. Beal had just signed the second-biggest contract in the NBA, but this edition lists him as the sixth-best player in his position.
Of course, looking through this list is a reminder of just how much talent there is in the NBA right now. The shooting guard is not even the busiest position in the league, but there are plenty of good ones. Lavigne, for example, averaged 24.4 points per game last season while shooting 38.9% of three on 7.1 attempts per game. Those are great numbers for a guy who is the 4th best shooting guard in the league.
While there may not be much difference between the top two defensemen, Beal’s performance just two seasons ago arguably deserves a much higher ranking than sixth. He averaged 31.3 points per game, with a career-best 48.5% from the field. However, that was two seasons ago and Beal will have to prove that he can be that player again.
The Wizards signing Beal to a new contract this summer was a lucrative vote of confidence that he can do just that. They’re betting on a much larger selection of Beal, who is one of the league’s top scorers.
While he averaged 23.2 points in 40 games last season, he averaged 28.7 points over the previous three seasons in 199 regular season games.
During the same off-season press conference, Sheppard said he expected Beal to prove any detractors wrong.
“It’s not a rematch tour or anything, but he wants to confirm that ‘hey, I’m one of the best players in the league.’ The only way to do this is to come back, get results and score points. It’s a challenge he likes,” Sheppard said.
NBC Sports Washington list compiled by Mike DePrisco ranked Beal as the 19th best player in the league, no matter the cost. That’s a lot better than 32nd overall and 6th among shooting guards, although Beal has a chance of making that a snub if he returns to his 2020-21 form.
In the meantime, look forward to new rosters like Athletic and Hoops Hype. And since they do, it’s possible Beale will neglect (perhaps) more outlets.
That’s the way things are at this time of the year.