Wizards select Beal with No. 3 pick in NBA draft
Bradley Beal's birthday wish came true.
On the day he turned 19, the 6-foot-4 guard from Florida was drafted Thursday night as the third overall pick by the Washington Wizards, a franchise looking for an outside shooter and a return to the postseason.
During his freshman campaign, Beal averaged 14.8 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Gators last season. Now he joins a backcourt headlined by John Wall, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft.
After working out for the Wizards on their home turf earlier this month, Beal said he felt the organization and the city ''was the right place for me.'' Before he left town, he implored Wizards coach Randy Wittman to have the team draft him. Two weeks later, Beal's ''prayers were answered.''
''This is by far the best birthday that I've ever had,'' Beal said on a conference call with local media. ''This really beats all the presents my mom and dad ever got me.''
His outside scoring is welcomed by the retooling Wizards, who finished this past season with a 20-46 record, though a trade deadline deal for Nene sparked improvement. Washington closed the season on a six-game winning streak, providing encouragement for a franchise that missed the playoffs for a fourth straight campaign.
Team owner Ted Leonsis has no interest running the streak to five.
''I don't want to be in the lottery anymore,'' Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said during a press conference before the draft. ''I would find that unacceptable.''
Considered one of the premier perimeter shooters in the draft, Beal made 10 of 19 attempts from beyond the arc during the NCAA tournament. Last season the Wizards ranked 28th in the NBA from beyond the arc, shooting 32 percent.
''We had some real good choices there - but yes, we were hoping he would fall to three,'' Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said of Beal.
''He can stretch the defense, is a very good three-point shooter and he knows how to play the game.''
With its second-round selection, the No. 32 overall pick, Washington drafted Tomas Satoransky of the Czech Republic. The 6-foot-7 combo guard spent the past three seasons playing for Cajasol Sevilla in the Spanish ACB and averaged 4.8 points in 34 games during the 2011-12 campaign.
The third consecutive Southeastern Conference freshman selected in the first three picks, Beal was also the Wizards third lottery selection in three seasons, following Wall and another Czech product Jan Vesely, the No. 6 overall pick in 2011.
Washington improved its frontcourt depth earlier this month, trading for center Emeka Okafor and forward Trevor Ariza. Add in Beal and expected improvement from those already on the roster and Wall has his owner's back regarding that no more being in the lottery thing.
''Three years in a row is enough,'' Wall said. ''You have to find a way to get better individually as a team and I think we're making the right steps.
Wall led the Wizards with 16.3 points and 8.0 assists last season, but connected on only 7.1 percent (3 of 42) of his 3-point attempts. The lightning quick point guard remains the team's centerpiece entering his third professional season. Now he has more shooting help.
''I think he's a great pick,'' Wall said. ''So many people wanted to get to him and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to pick him. He's somebody that can make shots and he helps spread the court for you.''
Jordan Crawford rounds out the expected three-guard rotation. The Wizards second-leading scorer last season with 14.2 points, Crawford took over the starting guard role opposite Wall following Nick Young's trade to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the deal for Nene.
Beal's take on the future pairing shows he's already in harmony with Wall.
Wall ''plays fast and that's the style of play I love to play,'' Beal said. ''Hopefully, I can be able to create space for him, be a decoy at times and hopefully be able to knockdown some shots.''