When he was taken by the Wizards with the third pick of the 2012 NBA draft, Bradley Beal knew there would come a day when his ego would take a bruising.
That day came Saturday night when he took a look at the starting lineup and saw Jordan Crawford’s name in his place.
“It was fine with me,” the 19-year-old rookie said after playing a career-low 13 minutes and scoring a career-low six points in an 83-76 loss to the Utah Jazz that dropped the Wizards to a league-worst 0-8.
“Coach [Randy Wittman] said he was going to make changes. He ended up bringing Book [Trevor Booker] and me off the bench. It didn’t faze me either way, as long as I get to play we try to get the win.”
Beal started his NBA career by averaging 18.3 points in his first three games. But when he followed with a pair of 8-point performances while shooting 4-for-25 in back-to-back losses in Charlotte and Dallas Tuesday and Wednesday, Wittman decided it was time his rookie watch the start of the game from the bench.
“Yeah, I talked to him,” Beal said. “He told me straight up. He said he was going to make changes and he didn’t know who it was going to be [to replace Beal].
“He said, ‘If I do choose to bring you off the bench, don’t take it personal or don’t feel as though I’m punishing you.' It was just a change and it’s just unfortunate we still came out with the loss.”
In his 13 minutes Saturday night Beal shot 3-for-6 from the field and did not attempt a 3-pointer. He also failed to record an assist and committed two turnovers. Two of his six points came when he drove the lane and dropped his first dunk as a Wizard.
“Coach told me something I actually took advice from,” Beal said. “He said, ‘When you feel as though you can’t get the [shooting] rhythm, start inside first and then work out. They were giving me opportunities to get to the basket and I tried to take it in strong and get them in foul trouble.”
The Wizards are hoping the arrival of natural point guard Shaun Livingston can open up more shooting opportunities for Beal, who averaged 17.6 points during the NBA Summer League. Livingston said he already sees in Beal a lot of the qualities that enticed the Wizards to take him third overall.
“I like his game a lot,” Livingston said. “He’s going to be a real good player in this league. Like every rookie the more you learn the better you get.
“He has a chance to be a star. He has all the fundamentals. He can shoot, he can get to the basket. It’s just learning the NBA game. Learning the rotations, learning the sets, knowing how defenses are going to play you. Knowing what’s a good shot, what’s not a good shot. He’ll learn that this season.”
The learning curve has been a lot sharper this season because of the absence of star guard John Wall and the mounting pressure of digging out of an 0-8 start.
“I want him to stay confident,” teammate A.J. Price said. “He’s one of our key players who we’re going to need. Regardless of how he feels personally right now we know we’re going to need him to be confident and be ready.”