There aren't a lot of quality young shooting guards in the NBA right now, especially given the injuries Eric Gordon has endured this year. There's also only one shooting guard projected as a surefire lottery pick in this year's draft, so that player, Bradley Beal, could be even more valuable than his ability would otherwise suggest.
Even if he weren't playing at a sought-after position, the freshman from Florida possesses plenty of appealing attributes. His high basketball IQ is something both ESPN.com's Chad Ford and Jonathan Givony of Draft Express agree on. He can play the point as well, and his showing down the stretch for the Gators and his ability to handle traps and double teams have already caught the eye of the Wizards, who are "enamored" with him, writes HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler. Ford points to his rebounding prowess, as he averaged 6.7 RPG this year, and Givony likes the advanced fundamentals and maturity he shows at just 18 years old.
Still, there are question marks involved. Ford writes that the only concern scouts have is his relatively poor shooting this year, when he connected on 44.5% of his field goal attempts, including 34% from three-point territory. Those are disappointing numbers from someone who, according to Ford, evoked comparisons to Ray Allen coming out of high school. While Givony believes he will never shoot so poorly from behind the arc again, he also points to a need for him to finish better on his attacks at the rim, as well as defensive inconsistencies. ESPN has him listed at 6'5", while he checks in at 6'3.5" at Draft Express. NBADraft.net splits the difference and has him at 6'4". Givony expressed concerns about his height, and if he's closer to the shorter side of his measurements, that's a legitimate worry.
Size matters less in a wide-open transition game, and he's been effective playing that style, according to Givony, creating looks for himself and his teammates with smooth ballhandling and an ability to change speeds. He'd fit a team looking for an up-tempo attack, and the Wizards notion holds water here, as they could go with a small lineup of John Wall, Beal, Jordan Crawford, Jan Vesely and Nene Hilario. He'd be a tougher fit with a team like the Raptors, who have a defensive-minded coach in Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan occupying the two-guard spot. Still, ESPN's latest mock has him going to Toronto at No. 5. Draft Express has him going fifth as well. Ford believes he could go as high as No. 2, but much of that will depend on how he compares to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, another sought-after wing player.
It all comes down to the right fit with a player like Beal, unlike a must-have top pick like Anthony Davis. If a team needs a versatile guard who can make quick decisions and, at worst, take nothing away from you with his shooting, Beal is the guy. If a team is worried about size and wants to play a halfcourt game, they'll shy away from him.