With the NBA opening up the regular season tomorrow night, teams are gearing up for what is sure to be an exciting season. With the new rookies finally officially entering the league this week, each team just became slightly more interesting. Take Bradley Beal for instance. He could start full-time in Washington, and is going to get a lot of opportunities to prove his worth to the Wizards. We’re expecting big things from him this year, so much so that we gave him the fifth-highest odds at winning this season’s Rookie Of The Year award.
We had the opportunity to catch up with the former Gator late last week. At the time, he had just confirmed that he will sign with Nike this year. We didn’t talk sneakers with the sharpshooters. We talked about his transition to the NBA, and also his Call of Duty skills.
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Dime: Tell me what it’s like adjusting to the new speed of the NBA so far.
Bradley Beal: It’s been a pretty smooth transition. The speed of the NBA is surprising, but I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far. Mainly I’ve just been making sure to be mentally and physically prepared to play. There’s obviously a jump in the level of competition so I just always want to be prepared for every game. These guys are professionals, so I know I have to do my best to be a professional as well and approach every game with the same preparation and focus.
Dime: Did Kris Humphries give you a little welcome to the NBA moment with that chase-down block he had on you?
BB: Yeah I guess you can call it that. If I had to pick a “welcome to the NBA moment” so far I wouldn’t say that was it, it was just a great play by him. But during that same game I was guarding Joe Johnson, and they just kept feeding him in the post. He’s no easy cover, so on one particular play I heard Avery Johnson on the sideline shouting, “Welcome to the NBA, rook!” That was a good moment for me, because I think that got me even more excited about the upcoming season and the challenges that lie ahead of me, and I’m gonna do my best to not have anymore of those type of moments.
Dime: What’s it been like adjusting to John Wall’s injury? How is it different without him on the court?
BB: I think we’ve been doing a good job so far. We have a good group of point guards who are all capable of different things. Obviously with John being out, it changes our style of play a little bit. With him out there we can run, play a little bit faster and be more up and down with it. Now we’ve just been working on taking care of the basketball and getting quality looks in the half-court, which I think we’ll benefit from when he returns.
Dime: In the draft, many considered you as the best overall scorer. Is there a limit to how aggressive you’re going to be this season in terms of looking to score while trying to fit in? Or are you just gonna let loose on fools?
BB: I’m just gonna do what I do. I’m not gonna put any extra pressure on myself. I know I’m not the team savior so to speak. But at the same time, I know they drafted me because they think I can help the team win. So I’m just gonna work hard, give my best effort on both ends of the floor. The way I play is aggressive, and I’m always in attack mode. I think that’s what makes me who I am as a player so I’m not going to change or adjust anything about my game. I’m gonna keep playing my game and hopefully help this team make the playoffs.
Dime: Do you think you have a chance to jump ahead in the R.O.Y race?
BB: I really don’t focus on that, because it’s more of an individual thing. Right now all I’m focused on is getting prepared to help this team win, and on what I can do to get better to help the team. As the season goes along, if the awards in my favor it’ll be something I use to gauge myself and would be a great award to try and win. But as of right now all I’m worried about is winning games. I’m not in competition with the other rookies. I’m in competition with the other teams in this league so that’s what comes first.