Craig Stouffer – Sports Staff writer, The Washington Examiner
Randy Wittman didn’t sleep the night before opening his first training camp as the Wizards permanent coach. Rookie Bradley Beal had no such problem.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Beal said following his first official NBA practice on Tuesday at Patriot Center. “I didn’t come in nervous. It’s just a normal thing. I came in to work hard and prove myself, just keep battling and try to earn my spot.”
Despite just turning 19 years old on draft night, there’s been little to disturb Beal during his transition from one year of college to the pros. He was self-assured and consistent at NBA Summer League, averaging 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists to earn a spot on the All-Summer League team. He even surprised the Wizards’ coaching staff with his playmaking ability.
He also arrived in Washington well before the season and has been a regular presence working out at Verizon Center for the last month. So determined to blend in — his silky smooth midrange jumper already appears aged beyond his years — Beal admits he has to be reminded that he doesn’t have to do it all by himself.
“I try to learn on my own,” he said. “But at the same time, I know I can’t do that all the time. Coach Z
After thriving in Las Vegas and in his lone season at Florida when coach Billy Donovan put the ball in his hands, Beal expects to play more off the ball for Washington. But without injured John Wall, the door could open for an opportunity to run the offense.
“We just got to worry about Bradley being Bradley,” Wittman said, “being a rookie coming into this situation, seeing how much he can handle, seeing how much he can’t handle before we get into deciding to thrust somebody further along that we need to be.”
The first practice of Wizards training camp didn’t feature any contact drills. A full scrimmage was set for the second session on Tuesday evening. Beal still managed to trip and fall during a five-on-zero drill and joked that the presence of the media made him nervous. That’s not what his teammates saw.
“I’m impressed with his poise,” point guard Jannero Pargo said. “I think a lot of rookies come in and they press and try too hard. It seemed like he took his time and went hard when it was time to go hard, and he looked pretty good.”
Beal is leery of being hazed by his veteran teammates. But it hardly seems a priority for a team where shenanigans have played far too big a role in recent years. All he’s had to do so far is carry Martell Webster’s iPad.
“Guys always say I act older than what I am,” Beal said. “So I always keep that mentally and make sure everything is focused and serious. It’s a business so if I have to grow up fast, like everybody wants me to, I’m willing to do that.”