Bradley Beal should be a high priority target for Elton Brand and the Philadelphia 76ers’ front office.
Beal, 25, has averaged 23.1 PPG and 22.6 PPG, respectively, in the last two seasons. This year, he’s averaging 22.6 PPG in seven games, good for 17th in the NBA. For his career, Beal has a career shooting slash line of: 44.6 FG% / 39.3 3P% / 79.3 FT%. His true shooting percentage was 60.4% in 2016-17 and 56.4% last season, when he was named to his first all-star game.
His advanced stats show his value even further.
Beal has a box plus-minus (estimates a player’s performance relative to league average) of 2.2 in 2016-17 and 1.7 in 2017-18.
Beal has an offensive box plus-minus of 4.5 (17th) in 2016-17 and 2.7 in 2017-18.
Beal’s offensive win share (estimates the number of wins a player produces for his team) was 6.9 (20th) in 2016-17 and 4.4 in 2017-18.
So, in summary, Beal blossomed into an elite NBA scorer two seasons ago.
Beal would be an instant upgrade of Markelle Fultz, who understandably may have a higher ceiling that Beal, but conversely has an officially scary floor. The Sixers’ starting lineup, with Fultz in it, is currently the 4th worst in the NBA. And while Fultz could certainly reach his ceiling, or come to close it, at just 20-years-old it will likely take him a few years to get there.
Beal is an elite, explosive, three-level scorer that would slide in perfectly alongside Ben Simmons right now, someone who can score in iso, catch-and-shoot, and create in the pick-and-roll.
Iso: Beal had an iso frequency rate of 12.9% last season, which was 25th in the NBA. The Sixers were one of the worst iso teams in the NBA and their iso frequency rate leader was Ben Simmons at 9.0%, 52nd in the NBA.
Pick-and-roll: Beal was among the leaders in pick-and-roll ball handling, something he did for 6.2 possessions per game, 31st in the NBA. Again, the Sixers do not run a lot of pick-and-rolls and Simmons was their pick-and-roll ball handling leader at 5.3 possessions per game, 45th in the NBA.
Off screen: Beal was 20th in the NBA (among players who played at least 50 games) in off screen frequency at 15.6%. JJ Redick was 18th at 17.3%, but no other Sixer was in the top 50.
Catch-and-shoot: Beal shot 43.0% on 3.9 catch-and-shoot threes per game, among the NBA leaders. JJ Redick, for comparison sake, shot 45.6% on 4.3 attempts. Covington led the NBA in 6.3 catch-and-shoot threes per game, shooting 37.9%. And Dario Saric shot an incredible 40.6% and 5.0 catch-and-shoot threes per game.
Beal will get more looks playing alongside Simmons.
Why would Washington trade Beal?
This is the tricky part of the equation. Certainly, Washington may not be willing to part with Beal. In 2016-17, the last time both Wall and Beal played 70 games each, the Wizards were 49-33, fourth best in the East. Beal dealt with various injuries early in his career, and the only other time he and Wall both played at least 70 games was 2013-14 and Washington was 5th in the conference at 44-38.
Still, Washington has not been able to get over the hump with the dynamic backcourt of Wall and Beal, and the pressure is heating up. This is consecutive season No. 7 for the Wizards with both all-star guards.
Last season, Wall missed two months due to a knee injury, playing in just half of the regular season games. In those 41 games, with Wall and Beal sharing a backcourt the Wiz were 19-22. Without Wall, they went 24-17 and acquired the No. 8 seed.
This season, the Wizards are off to an NBA worst 1-6 start with both players healthy again.
Trading Beal could certainly be something GM Ernie Grunfeld and the Washington front office scoffs at, but maybe, just maybe they’re looking to shake things up? Grunfeld has been the Wizards GM since 2003 and the team is 536-678 during his tenure. The franchise is stuck in mediocrity.
The team also has 6’7″, 22-year-old wing in Kelly Oubre Jr. and a 6’8″, 25-year-old wing in Otto Porter—who signed a new four-year, $106 million contract in July of 2017—on the roster. Oubre played 27.5 minutes per game last season and is right around that this season. Oubre looks like he’s ready to make a leap and would start for many NBA teams. Porter plays around 30 minutes per game.
Drew Hanlen connection
Just as a fun aside, Beal has been working with Drew Hanlen since he was 13-years-old, one of Hanlen’s first clients. Hanlen, of course, worked with Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid all summer and is consistently with and around the Sixers. I highly doubt Hanlen has any personnel input, but it’s just an interesting nugget.
Beal is currently in year three of his five-year deal worth $127,171,313. The 25-year-old is making $25.4M this season, $27M next season, and $28.75M in 2020-21. The fact that Beal is under contract for this season plus two more is incredibly attractive. Sure, he’s expensive, but he’s worth it.
For context, Beal’s average annual salary of $25,434,263 is tied with Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond for just 23rd highest in the NBA.
I think an offer of:
Dario Saric OR Robert Covington
2021 first-round pick from the Heat (via Zhaire Smith trade)
And maybe another protected Sixers’ first-round pick
is certainly a fair and reasonable offer.
I would assume Washington would be more interested in Saric than RoCo, since Covington is a bit redundant to Oubre and Porter.
That would give the Sixers a new core four of Simmons, Embiid, Beal, and Covington and a new starting lineup of Beal-Redick-Covington-Simmons-Embiid.
It’s hard to be opposed to that.
Ps. Here’s my podcast on why I’m not worried about the Sixers: