Wizards’ Bradley Beal making history during futile hot streak

On Wednesday, Bradley Beal set a new career-high and a new Washington Wizards franchise record when he poured in 60 points against the Philadelphia 76ers. Two nights later, when the Wizards traveled to Boston to take on the Celtics, Beal kept it going and finished with 41 points. 

In terms of pure scoring, they were two of the best performances from any one in the league this season; the only problem was they both came in defeat. Washington is now 2-7, which is tied for the second-worst record in the league, as Beal’s historic hot streak is proving futile. 

Through the first nine games, Beal has scored 315 points, which is the fourth most by any player in that time span since the NBA/ABA merger back in 1976-77, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The only players who have scored more through their team’s first nine games? Michael Jordan and James Harden. For the season Beal is now putting up 35 points per game — which leads the league by a more than five-point margin — and has been doing it efficiently as well, sitting right on the borderline of the historic 50/40/90 club. 

Beal is doing all he possibly can, but it’s going to waste in large part because the Wizards cannot defend anyone. They’re third-worst in the league in defensive rating, allowing 114.6 points per 100 possessions, and third-worst in opponents field goal percentage at 49.7 percent. 

As a result of all the losing, Beal is making some unfortunate history in addition to all of the records and accolades. He’s now scored 40-plus points in back-to-back defeats. The last time that happened in the league was last February. Can you guess which player pulled it off then? That’s right, it was Bradley Beal. If that wasn’t enough, Beal’s three best scoring games in his career have all come in defeat, and only six players in league history have more 50-point outings in losses than Beal, per NBC Sports Washington

Beal has consistently pledged his future to the Wizards, and signed an extension that runs through 2022, with a player option for 2023. Ahead of this season he said it would “mean the world” to him to finish his career in D.C., and added, “I’m a loyal guy. I want to be here. I’m here. I’ve signed my extension … Being able to finish your career in one place? You know, you don’t see that in today’s game.”

That’s something to be respected, and you don’t want to try and run someone out of town just because the team is playing poorly. Still, as Beal sees arguably the best basketball of his career being squandered, it’s fair to wonder if there’s a breaking point that would make him reconsider that stance. 

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