If we are relying on Beal’s career stats, yes he did decline last season. A 8 point drop in points per game (31.3 ppg to 23.2 ppg) is a noticeable drop. But do basic box score stats always tell the complete story? For the most part they don’t. In my opinion, Beal didn’t really decline as a player in 2022. The drop in scoring average and production was the result of two changes within the Wizards organization. Changes that I will get into right now.
Changes in style of play
In 2020 and 2021, the Wizards were one of the fastest teams in the league. Under former head coach Scoot Brooks, the Wizards finished the 2019-2020 season 7th overall in pace factor according to ESPN Hollinger Stats. The following season, the Wizards were number one overall in pace factor according to ESPN Hollinger Stats. These two seasons were also when Beal averaged at least 30 points per game.
Under current head coach Wes Unseld Jr, the Wizards did not even crack the top 20 in the stat. Slower pace leads to fewer possessions. Fewer possessions lead to fewer points.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope joined the Washington Wizards in the summer of 2021. On a team that had more depth, there was no longer a need for Beal to average 30 points per game. Beal took fewer shots, and was looking to get his new teammates more involved. Which affected his offensive rhythm to a degree, because over the past two seasons his primary focus was to score. Especially during the 2020-2021 season with Russell Westbrook. Westbrook took care of the play making duties, which allowed Beal to focus on what he did best.
I’m aware that the eye test is an old method of evaluating players. But there is still a lot of value in evaluating a player just based on what you see. From the eye test, Beal looked like his normal self. At least to me. His mid range game was still lethal. The ability to shift defenders was there. He was still getting past defenders and finishing at the basket strong. His three point shooting declined, but I went more in depth about that here .
See for yourself if you saw a decline in Beal this past season. No stats. No narratives. Just pure eye test