If the Cavaliers are serious about drafting the top-rated shooting guard in this draft, they may have to get moving to catch him. Beal’s stock has been soaring since the NBA combine, when he measured in an acceptable 6-foot-4, and could be off the board by the time the Cavaliers select fourth on Thursday.
Beal averaged 14.8 points in his only season at Florida, becoming the only Gator to be named to the All-SEC team and the All-Freshman team.
He’s an active defender with a smooth stroke and a knack for grabbing rebounds – his 6.7 rebounds led the team. The only question seemed to be whether he would be tall enough to defend the position, but his 6-4 measurement satisfied most scouts and league executives.
The Washington Wizards, selecting above the Cavs at No. 3, insist their trade that brought small forward Trevor Ariza won’t affect their draft board. They’ve been high on Beal and Michael Kidd- Gilchrist all along.
If the Cavs are sold on Beal, they may have to decide if the No. 24 pick is a worthy price to move up to No. 2. The Charlotte Bobcats are drafting second and have made it clear they’re open to trading the pick.
Beal is the middle child in a family of five boys. He has heard all the comparisons to future hall of famer Ray Allen, but growing up, Beal was more impressed with Allen Iverson. He was falling in love with the game about the time Iverson took the league by storm.
Beal had Iverson’s shoes and wore all the headbands and wristbands like his idol. He even wore his hair in cornrows until his freshman year of high school.
“I always wanted to be like him,” Beal said. “I think he was a great point guard. I was a point guard when I was smaller, but eventually I began shooting the ball and became a shooter.”
He still hasn’t stopped. Beal doesn’t have quite the range of someone like Allen (he shot 34 percent on 3-pointers last season), but he has a great midrange game, knows how to score and would alleviate some of the offensive pressure heaped on Kyrie Irving.
Beal left after one season because he knew he’d be a lottery pick, but he seems genuinely surprised to be projected so high. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, wouldn’t allow Beal to work out for any teams below the Cavaliers at No. 4.
Beal is smooth even in an interview setting, appearing relaxed and poised at all times. He clearly isn’t afraid to rebound and he said he loves playing defense, which will instantly catch the eye of Cavs coach Byron Scott.
“I take pride in my defense,” Beal said. “I love playing defense because defense leads to your offense.”
Beal worked out recently for the Cavs against Harrison Barnes, and while both players performed well, Barnes’ extra four inches didn’t really stop Beal from doing what he wanted in the workout, according to those with knowledge of how it went.
Beal said at the combine he’d love to play with Irving, and a Beal-Irving combo could give the Cavaliers one of the most exciting young backcourts in the NBA.
Now the Cavs have to decide whether they want Beal, and if so, whether it’s worth trading up to ensure snagging him.
“I’m an all-around player,” Beal said. “I don’t like to limit myself to being just a shooter.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.