We continue our look at the Portland Trail Blazers' potential 2012 draft with a look at Bradley Beal. In case you missed it we covered Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist yesterday. Beal completes the trifecta of players the Blazers would almost certainly have to trade up in order to get.
Beal is a 6'5", 200 lb freshman shooting guard from Florida. He's the mostly highly regarded backcourt player in this draft, providing more of a complete package than any of his competitors. His calling card is his near-textbook shooting form. The ball doesn't always go in for him but everything about his body says he expects it to go in every time. You cannot teach that kind of purity or confidence. He's quite good on the run and with open space in front of him as well. The rim won't be safe from his drives if he can see daylight. His strength has drawn raves. His rebounding numbers and one-on-one defensive ability against bigger players bear out those accolades. He's considered a High IQ player even in the midst of a draft class known for that attribute. He's also 18 years old with near boundless room to grow. Almost everything about this guy says "Winner".
His faults start with his size. 6'5" is short for an NBA shooting guard. They're rounding up to get him there too. Without open space in front of him his handle and shot selection become suspect. Despite his strength he doesn't have the raw athleticism to carve out clean shots under pressure. Also despite the raves about his shooting form he hit but 34% of his three-pointers last year.
No doubt the Blazers would love to have Beal in the fold but they probably have questions as well. The new vogue in the NBA is running two near-point guards in your starting lineup. Name the great full-sized shooting guards in this league right now and your list will be short. Nevertheless, the Blazers have had their fill of offensive-minded tweener guards over the last few years. Beal is better than any of them but that won't add length to his frame. Nor will lanky, athletic NBA defenders allow him the space he needs to get off a shot or drive. A NBA scout once told me that the biggest adjustment for new NBA players was the smaller court. It isn't physically smaller, but the size and speed of defenders leaves so little space compared to college that players are required to speed up their game while making better decisions and employing more exacting fundamentals. That's a tricky combo. The only thing that saves you from mistakes (sometimes) is pure athleticism, which Beal doesn't have. The Blazers also have a pretty good shooter and defender at shooting guard in Wesley Matthews. Beal could trump Matthews if Beal had a proven blow-by ability but that's exactly what he's lacking. In some ways he'd be a serious upgrade, but how much and how soon? Plus you have to figure in opportunity cost, losing whatever assets you traded to move up in order to get the young fella. If he was a little longer, had a little more proven dribble drive, this guy would be a no-brainer for Portland. As it is he's part amazing, but also part risk and part compromise. How much risk the Blazers assess and how much compromise they're willing to make will go a long way towards determining whether Beal is worth trading up for.
Weigh in with your own thoughts below. Would you be happy to see the Blazers move up for Beal? If so, at what price? Also what do you envision him contributing, short and long term?