- Sam Aldrich
Where's Bradley Beal Going?
Bradley Beal is one of the most talented offensive players in the NBA. A career 21.3 points per game scorer is averaging a James Harden-like 34.9 points per game so far this season on 48%/34%/89% splits and 52.6% eFG percentage. Beal is also getting to the line 8.6 times per game, which when you're shooting nearly 90%, is incredibly efficient and sustainable for him to average well over 30 points per game for this Wizards team.
Beal has been sensational on the offensive end of the floor and continues to show why he's worth a max contract and is so sought after every year in trade talks.
Beal also plays for the lowly Washington Wizards, who have stumbled out of the gate to 4-12 record, the worst in the East. This team that many (myself included) had tabbed as a lower playoff seed in the East have been a combination of poorly coached, injured, unlucky, and dysfunctional. Russell Westbrook has largely been a shell of himself, continuing a worrying trend as he ages. Westbrook would be far from the first ultra-explosive guard to hit a sudden wall in their early 30's.
Also lost has been Thomas Bryant who tore his ACL, expected to be the key big man on this Wizards team. Frustration has set in with the string of losses, and it's written all over the face of the star of the franchise, Bradley Beal.
For good reason, too. The Wizards are an anemic 6-19 in Beal's career when he scored 40+ points in a game, an unthinkable stat. While Beal himself has not requested a trade, the whispers have turned to open conversations around the league: Where is Bradley Beal going if and when he demands a trade out of The Capitol?
I've got a couple of ideas: let's take a look at a few of the most interesting trade packages for Beal.
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards receive: Ben Simmons and a future first round pick.
Alright, I had to kick this off with a bang. Beal for Simmons straight up, with a future first thrown in, would be one of the biggest player swaps we've seen in the history of the league. I think it makes a ton of sense for both teams.
Philadelphia has been outstanding to start this season for a variety of reasons, including Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, Doc Rivers replacing Brett Brown on the bench, and Daryl Morey adding a couple of high level three point shooters to the roster to surround Embiid and Simmons.
While the regular season is one challenge, doing this in the playoffs is a whole other story, and we've seen Simmons and this Sixers team flame out over and over again come playoff time. What better way for the most aggressive GM in the league (Morey) to seize an opportunity than to trade out Simmons and his shooting woes for one of the best, if not the best, scoring guard in the East?
Closing with Beal, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid puts four shooters around the most dominant big man in the league right now and would be an absolute horror to guard for defenses. I think this would make Philly a co-favorite to win the East with Brooklyn.
On the other side, this is the best single player the Wizards could fetch in a return for Beal. We'd finally get to see Simmons run his own team without a center to run the offense through. They will likely end up with a top 3-5 pick in the loaded 2021 NBA Draft and can pair their new star, (a player like Jalen Green, Johnathon Kuminga or Jalen Suggs) with Ben Simmons, Deni Avdija, Thomas Bryant returning, Davis Bertans, and a fully rested, hopefully healthy Russell Westbrook for 2021-2022.
In addition, you add another future first round pick to your future stockpile to replace the pick you traded in the Wall/Westbrook deal with Houston. There are worse paths to take.
Denver Nuggets Receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards Receive: Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris, Monte Morris, a 2021 first-round pick
This is the all-in move that the Nuggets have been waiting for. Surrounding Nikola Jokic with Beal and Jamaal Murray in the backcourt would make Denver possibly the most unguardable team in the West outside of the Lakers. Beal could also help carry the offensive load in the regular season with Jokic on the nights where Murray doesn't bring his A-game.
What this does not do for Denver is solve their defensive issues. They remain a bottom 10 team in Defensive Efficiency, and trading Gary Harris would not help this situation. There is hope that Beal's effort and defensive numbers would see a jump in a more tenable situation, who has admittedly been doing his share of pouting on the floor and on the bench. However, the offensive potential of this Nuggets team adding Beal is impossible to not get excited about.
It also feels like Michael Porter Jr. has been in trade discussions for a year or two now, as it is apparent he wants and has the potential to be the focal point of an NBA offense. This would create that opportunity in DC, and the Wizards would have their future star to build around, in addition to adding a couple of useful role players in Harris and Morris and adding a '21 first rounder to their list of assets. MPJ might be a future 25 point per game player in this league on his Rookie deal, which would be an outstanding prize if you have to lose a player the caliber of Beal.
Golden State Warriors Receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards Receive: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, 2021 Minnesota Timberwolves first-round pick (1-3 protected), 2023 first round pick, 2025 first round pick, pick swaps in 2022 and 2024.
I really like this deal for both sides, and I know Warriors GM Bob Myers and his front office to spring on a golden opportunity. The Warriors clearly want to win now while Steph and Draymond are entering the latter years of their primes. Golden State is currently 11-9 and sitting in 7th place in the West, despite the brutal loss of Klay Thompson for yet another season.
Putting Bradley Beal in a backcourt with Steph Curry would instantly turn the Warriors into a strong contender for home court in the West this year, which is starting to look at lot more open beyond the top 2 seeds, and a potential Championship contender in 2021-2022 with Klay Thompson re-joining the starting lineup. The Splash Brothers, plus Beal, would be back and better than ever, with the added bonus of getting that Wiggins contract off of their books.
On the flipside, this is a full tear-down type of move that would put the Wizards in great shape going forward with a load of young players and assets. They can easily absorb the Wiggins money and James Wiseman is an intriguing young, modern Center with loads of potential as a rim-protector and multi-faceted big who can play inside and out on offense. They'd also pocket that valuable Wolves pick in this year's loaded draft, assuming they can get out of the basement and avoid that protection. If that turns into a Jalen Green or Johnathon Kuminga, that's as good as a pick at the top of many drafts.
The Wizards would also receive an additional two first rounders and 2 pick swaps, similar to the haul the Pelicans got for Jrue Holiday. I love this deal for the Wizards, who should be looking to the future rather than putting a band-aid on this broken roster.
Miami Heat Receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards Receive: G Tyler Herro, F Andre Iguodala, F Precious Achiuwa, F Chris Silva, MIA 2022 first round pick, MIA 2025 first round pick
Of all the teams I've mentioned, this team might be the one that needs to make this move the most. The Heat have stumbled out of the gate this year after their magical run all the way to the 2020 NBA Finals, due to some combination of Finals hangover, injury/COVID issues, and maybe even coming back down to earth. According to John Hollinger, they're the 24th ranked team in Offensive Efficiency, down from 10th last year. While there are some incredible exciting young building blocks on this team, Jimmy Butler is 31 and wants to win here and now.
The Heat were mentioned as a potential landing spot for James Harden, but I actually love this fit with Beal a lot more for the Heat, who can slot Beal in as both a primary ballhandler to take some pressure off of Jimmy Butler, or off the ball, running around screens and wreaking chaos on defenses.
Picture Coach Spo putting the ball in Jimmy Butler's hands with Duncan Robinson and Brad Beal moving around screens- this would be an absolute nightmare to guard, without even mentioning the emergence of Bam Adebayo as a post scorer as his offensive game continues to grow.
It hurts to give up Herro, who many compare to a young Devin Booker in his shot-making ability and offensive ceiling, and Achiuwa, who has shown great potential as just a rookie. However, Jimmy Butler is here to win right now, and the Killer B's of Beal, Butler, and Bam would right this ship pretty quick and make the Heat a team nobody wants to play in the playoffs, regardless of seed.
From the Wizards perspective, you get Tyler Herro and Precious Achiuwa still on their rookie deals for several more years, and two additional first round picks for the future to build with, along with what's likely to be a bottom 3-5 team without Beal. If you get a little lucky, you could be looking at a young Wizards core of something like Cade Cunningham/Jalen Suggs, Tyler Herro, Precious Achiuwa, Deni, and several more solid role players, with additional future picks to play with. I know I'd be listening.