In a league full of dynamic duos, the Washington Wizards’ clear cut No. 2 option alongside John Wall has been up for debate.
For the Wizards, the ideal No. 2 opposite of Wall should be his counterpart in the backcourt, Bradley Beal. After receiving a five-year, $128-million contract extension in the offseason, Beal not only solidified his spot on the Wizards for years to come but also welcomed high expectations.
So far this season, Beal has been very inconsistent, to say the least. Known for having one of the purest shots in the game, Beal has struggled mightily with his shot early. In seven games, Beal has averaged only 15.4 points, shooting 36.6 percent from the floor and a disappointing 29.4 percent from 3-point land.
We can talk about his worrisome stats all we want or we could also take a look at the all-important eye test.
While on the floor, Beal utilizes the multitude of screens set by the Wizards to pry him open for easy shot attempts. When it comes to creating by himself like a DeMar DeRozan or CJ McCollum, Beal struggles.
Like many other Wizards, Beal can be too dependent on Wall and can be discouraging if you are paying a player $128 million to be the guy for your team.
Beal’s struggles without Wall came to fruition when the Wizards took on the Orlando Magic last Saturday, while Wall was resting to avoid playing in back-to-back games after his two knee surgeries.
The Wizards needed Beal to step up in Wall’s absence, but Beal was nowhere to be found at times and finished with 15 points and 6-of-17 shooting.
This was a disappointing outing for Beal, because this was his chance to show fans and his teammates he could carry the team when needed. To make matters worse, Beal left Wednesday night’s game against the Celtics with a leg injury.
This is a huge cause for concern because the knock on Beal is he can’t stay healthy. A slow start to the season and early injury wasn’t what Wizards fan were expecting from Beal.
Now the question arises, who has been the Wizards second best player? The player who has impressed the most and is firmly the No. 2 option at this point is Otto Porter Jr. The 23-year old small forward out of Georgetown has really come into his own in his 4th season with the Wizards.
Porter has improved tremendously and is light years ahead of backup forward Kelly Oubre Jr, who was in an open competition with Porter for the starting spot during training camp.
So far this season, Porter is averaging 16.9 points per game, 8.3 rebounds and shooting an astounding 61 percent from the floor. After not hitting a three in the first four games, Porter has hit 7-of-13 threes in his last three games.
Along with the efficient shooting start, Porter has also posted three double-doubles and has a player efficiency rating or PER of 24.2. To put that into context, the league average PER is only 15.
His cumulative stats and his ability to consistently help Wall every night should not be going unnoticed. Porter’s most successful game this season came Wednesday against the Celtics.
Porter helped the Wizards get off to a 34-8 1st quarter lead because of his constant energy. In a game that saw Beal leave early with an injury, Porter ended the night with a career high 34 points and 14 rebounds.
It is still early, but the clear-cut second option on the Wizards hasn’t been the obvious choice. We’ve seen the true potential of Beal in past playoff performances. T
he question with Beal is, can he efficiently produce for a full 82? Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see that just yet. With the emergence of Porter Jr, the gap between the two players is closer than many think.
This will be an interesting storyline to keep an eye on this season as the Wizards try to improve on their slow start.