Wall might get paid, Beal has better shot at gold

Wall might get paid, Beal has better shot at gold
July 26, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Updated 5:00 p.m.

John Wall's expected new deal could limit the amount of future dollars the Wizards can offer Bradley Beal. However, within the backcourt pairing, it's the shooter with the better chance of landing gold.

At this point, all signs have that the Wizards and Wall agreeing to a maximum contract extension, possibly by August 1. The No. 1 overall pick from the 2010 draft would only be the fifth active NBA point guard with a max deal, joining Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

Obviously, the Wizards would be banking that the upside outweighs any risk, which includes not being able to offer Beal a five-year extension down the line. (Beal can still receive a lucrative deal, just not under the "designated player" portion of the league's CBA if Wall's deal is as being reported). Regardless of the potential implications in Washington, the decision-makers for Team USA have their own agenda. Wall's chances of making a national team final roster remain iffy, either for the 2014 World Cup in Spain and especially the 2016 Olympics n Brazil.

That's no knock on Wall, who averaged a career-high 18.5 points with 7.6 assists last season after missing the opening 33 games with a knee injury. As evidenced by this week's mini-camp, which included Wall, Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson and Damian Lillard but not Paul, Rose, Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry, there is simply a deep pool of point guard options from which coach Mike Krzyzewski can choose.

When it comes to high-end shooters, a must for international play, there are significantly fewer choices.

Bradley Beal is one of them.

The crowded backcourt scenario also affects Beal; true positions are not as important on such a talent-rich team and it's conceivable 4-5 point guard types make the Rio roster seeing as Westbrook and Curry have legitimate positional flexibility. Then again, Curry's weak ankles and injury history suggest he's no lock to stay healthy. There are simply not many in his universe as a shooter.

Again, Beal might be one of them.

The rising second-year guard attended the Las Vegas practice sessions, but remains limited with a stress fracture in his right fibula. That injury and others limited Beal to 56 games. His lack of experience lowers his chance of playing for the 2014 team, but Beal will have four seasons under his belt by the time the Rio games roll in 2016.

When active last season, he averaged 13.9 points and shot 38.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Beal's numbers significantly improved after the calendar flipped to 2013, after he adjusted to the NBA game, after Wall returned from injury.

Over his final 30 games, which took place from January 1 through April 2, a significantly more confident Beal averaged 15.5 points, but the biggest difference came in his long-range shooting percentage. The 6-foot-5 guard sank a staggering 48.4 percent (62 for 128) on his 3-point attempts in the stretch, ranking third in the NBA among players attempting at least two per game.

Besides Beal, only Curry, Irving and Williams among guards in the national team mix ranked among the league's top 3-point shooters during that time.

Curry is the clubhouse leader when it comes to shooters while Irving is perhaps the top perimeter threat among the traditional point guards. Both are favorites for a Team USA roster spot and both could land as point guards, especially if Paul passes, a scenario that would also help Wall's chances.

Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant were the primary 3-point shooters for 2012 Olympic gold medal winning team. Of those three, only Durant is a lock for 2014 and 2016. Though he can play anywhere on the court, the 6-foot-11 Durant is a forward.

Besides Bryant, James Harden was the only other true off-guard on the 2012 team. The Houston Rockets star is a good bet for Rio if healthy. Though a small forward with Indiana, Paul George is listed as a guard with Team USA. He's another likely option in 2016, but one more likely to fill Anthony's slot as a stretch-four than be the team's designated shooter.

In terms of off-guards participating this week in Las Vegas, Golden State's Klay Thompson could be Beal's biggest threat as a knockdown shooter. The 6-foot-7 wing made 41.2 percent of his 3's last season. Utah's Gordon Heyward, listed as a forward on the Team USA roster, impressed many this week and is another 3-point threat.

Cleveland's Dion Waiters and Toronto's DeMar DeRozen are also on the roster, though both are true long shots. Eric Gordon was among the final cuts in 2012, but the New Orleans' sharpshooter will need a couple of standout seasons to rejoin the discussion.

No matter how much Wall and Beal improve between now and next summer, between now and final cuts in the summer of 2016, it might not matter. If Paul, Rose and Westbrook want in, they're in. Same scenario exists for Curry. Irving remains a likely choice, especially with the former Duke guard's connection to Coach K. Add in Harden and that could be the World Cup and Olympic backcourt.

Yet if Curry sits or the roster architects decide another pure perimeter threat is required, the list of alternatives isn't long. It might not start with Beal, but his name won't be far from the top.