WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal seemed destined to break the Wizards franchise record for 3-pointers since he was drafted with the third overall pick in 2012.
Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, Beal hit his 206th (and 207th, 208th, and 209th) 3-pointers of the season, breaking Gilbert Arenas’ franchise record for triples in a season. Arenas hit 205 in both the 2004-05 season and the 2006-07 season.
A slew of injuries over his first four seasons prevented Beal from snagging the record earlier, and he had also never attempted more than five 3-pointers per game in any of his previous seasons. For reference: 31 players averaged at least 5.0 3-pointers attempted per game last season, including Kevin Love, Nikola Mirotic and Jae Crowder.
This season, however, Beal has launched a whopping 7.3 triples per game, for a total of 517 attempts through 71 games. His previous career high was 343 attempts, back in 2013-14, when he played 73 games. That substantial uptick in attempts has, not surprisingly, led to a substantial uptick in makes.
There have been just 44 occasions in NBA history in which a player has made at least 205 3-pointers in a season. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are each responsible for five of those 44 seasons. In addition to Beal, Curry and Thompson, four other players have topped the 209 mark already this season. Of those 44 seasons, exactly half of them have come in the past 5 years, evidence of the league’s considerable shift toward perimeter shooting.
Put another way: Beal just broke the Wizards franchise record in 3-pointers made in a season in which he’s just seventh in 3-pointers made.
That’s not meant to diminish the significance of what the 23-year-old Beal has done. With seven games left in the regular season and Beal averaging roughly three makes per game, he’s on pace to finish with 230 3-pointers this season; 230 3-pointers in a season is something that’s been accomplished just 17 times in a season (five times by Curry, three by Thompson, two by James Harden).
While Beal definitely deserves the majority of the credit — after all, he is the one shooting the shots — it’s important to recognize the man responsible for getting him so many open looks.
John Wall congratulated his backcourt mate on Instagram after the game, and Beal made sure to give Wall his props for always finding him open at the perimeter. And it’s for good reason.
Wall and Beal have both taken their play to a new level this season, and the results are tangible. Per NBA.com, Beal has attempted an almost unbelievable 432 3-pointers in which no defender was within four feet of him. He had never taken even 350 3-pointers in a season prior to this year, wide open or covered.
That’s the John Wall effect. It’s no secret shooters get better around Wall, who generates open looks on the perimeter better than perhaps anybody in the league, and the Wizards star is averaging a career-high 10.8 assists per game, the second-most in the league. But Wall increasing his production, and Beal improving his creation skills with the ball in his hands, it’s paid significant dividends for the Wizards, who just clinched their first division title in 38 years.
In other words: John Wall and Bradley Beal play well, the Wizards play well.