It’s no secret the Cavaliers need a shooting guard. And it’s no secret Florida’s Bradley Beal is considered the best player at that position in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Much less certain is whether Beal will be on the board when the Cavs make the fourth pick Thursday night, as there have been rumors he could go No. 2 to Charlotte or No. 3 to Washington.
But if the 6-foot-4¾, 202-pound Beal is available when the Cavs pick, there’s a solid chance the 19-year-old will be joining 2011 No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving in Cleveland’s starting backcourt.
Beal, who averaged 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals as a freshman, is a great athlete who can score off the dribble, whether it’s by pulling up for a jumper or getting all the way to the rim.
The shooting guard came to Cleveland last weekend to work out with and against 6-8, 228-pound North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes — and reportedly got the better of the proceedings in front of Cavs officials — but it now looks like there’s a decent chance he won’t be on the board at No. 4.
“We’ll call him a poor man’s Dwyane Wade,” NBA scouting director Ryan Blake said. “Wade wasn’t a sniper of an outside shooter when he came out (of Marquette), but he had no fear. That’s what Beal has really shown.
“He’s got a great body, he’s clutch and he lets the game come to him. He’s got range, but he’s a mid-range sharpshooter and he plays defense.”
Blake calls Beal “an IQ player,” meaning he understands situations and floor spacing and knows how to read the game.
The veteran scout also likes the fact Beal “has OK size, but plays bigger” and is versatile enough that he might eventually be able to play some point guard.
The owner of a 6-8 wingspan and 6 percent body fat, Beal shot .445 from the field, including .339 on 3-pointers, and .769 at the line as a freshman. Those numbers probably would have been higher had he not had to take a lot of hurried attempts in order to beat the shot clock.
“His ballhandling is good enough that he could play some point, if needed,” Pro Basketball Draft’s Joe Kotoch said. “With his length and frame and intensity — he’s a competitive player — he’s got the ability to be a very good defender.”
Kotoch compared Beal to a healthy Eric Gordon, the explosive former Los Angeles Clippers and current New Orleans guard who missed almost all of last season due to injury.
That’s noteworthy, because the offensive-minded Gordon, whose 6-3 frame led some to wonder if he was big enough to play shooting guard in the NBA, is a player the Cavs have loved for years.
Kotoch, however, goes one step further and indirectly lumps Beal with one of the greatest long-range shooters in NBA history.
“The Eric Gordon comparisons physically are very fair,” he said. “He’s a tremendous shooter who didn’t shoot it as well as he could have (as a freshman), but some people equate him to Ray Allen.
“I don’t think that’s fair, because Ray Allen might be the best shooter of his generation, but Bradley Beal is a great player who can create his own shot.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.