With John Wall out for the season with pending heel surgery, Bradley Beal has been thrust into the forefront of the struggling Washington Wizards. As the team and its fans make a strong pitch to get the 25-year old guard voted into next month’s NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, all have some serious work to do.
The NBA released its first return of the fan voting for the All-Star Game and Beal is currently ninth among Eastern Conference guards with a mere 61,269 votes.
It’s understandable that he trails more popular guards such as Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry, but Jeremy Lin?
Lin is currently averaging 10.4 points and 3.3 assists off the bench for the 11-26 Atlanta Hawks.
Beal averages 23.6 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds — all career-highs — in 38 starts for the Wizards. while he is shooting a career-low 34.0 percent from three, he is shooting a career-high in two-point shots at 54.6 percent.
Beal’s voting total is more than likely a direct hit of all the negative reports that have surfaced about the Wizards this season. And with national writers and personalities seemingly always bashing the Wizards and Beal not having any fanfare that goes beyond the nation’s capital, he is facing an uphill battle.
Looking at the Eastern Conference guards voting — the top two are named starters — Irving leads the pack with 910,329. He has had an amazing individual season and plays for one of the more storied and well-followed franchises in the NBA in the Boston Celtics.
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat is second with 409,156 votes. This season is set to be the 37-year old’s last playing in the NBA. Kemba Walker is third with 319,519 votes. He plays for the All-Star Game’s host and has had a lot of publicity lately, scoring a career-high 25.4 points per game.
Then there’s Ben Simmons, who is the point man for the more successful and larger market Philadelphia 76ers. The Indiana Pacers’ Victor Oladipo is fifth, but he has not had a more successful individual season than Beal with 19.6 points per game but he is coming off a tremendous playoff performance a season ago almost pushing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to elimination. Kyle Lowry leads the East with 9.8 assists and his Toronto Raptors may be the best team in the conference.
Zach Levine of the Chicago Bulls has been pretty good individually, scoring 23.3 points, but his team has been just as bad if not worse than the Wizards. However, he plays in a larger market and makes a lot more highlights with his dunking abilities.
The fan vote will account for 50 percent of the total vote to determine the starters for the Feb. 17 exhibition game. Fan voting will end at 11:59 Monday, Jan. 21. Media and players will each account for 25 percent of the vote.
Unless there is a major spike in votes for Beal, his best chance is to be named a reserve by the league coaches. Even then, there’s a challenge with the increased talent in the East at guard.