The Washington Wizards haven’t had expectations this heavy since the Gilbert Arenas era. After five straight years without a postseason appearance and playing sub-.400 basketball, the Wizards enter the 2013-14 season with one thing on their mind: playoffs.
Vacancies have been made in the bottom seeds of the Eastern Conference and the Wizards are looking to set up residence. They are looking to ride the momentum they had in the second half of the season where an injection of healthy players and confidence turned Washington into a respectable club.
Heralding the Wizards this year will be their dynamic, track-meet of a backcourt equipped with four-year point guard John Wall and second-year shooting guard Bradley Beal, who took time recently to speak with Dime Magazine about his love for the Call of Duty franchise prior to their release of Ghosts, the latest installment in the series.
Bradley and I spoke of his interest in the CoD franchise, as well as his expectations for the Wizards this year, how he improved over the offseason, who he thought was the toughest player to guard last year, and a difficult choice between a pair of his favorite artists.
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Dime: How long have you been a fan of the Call of Duty franchise?
Bradley Beal: I’ve played the past two, Modern Warfare and Black Ops. I’m looking forward to getting on the next one.
Dime: What’s your playing style? Are you a fan of the multiplayer?
BB: Not really. I usually play around on the campaign mode. But I’ll play with teammates and friends when I get the chance.
Dime: How long have you been into gaming?
BB: Since I was a kid. I’ve always been playing whenever I wasn’t working on my game. Now I’m on my Xbox 360 and I’ll turn it on after a hard day.
Dime: Transitioning to your line of work, were there any particular facets of your game that you focused on this summer?
BB: Ballhandling and creating off the dribble for myself, as well as my teammates. Also, my defense more than anything and my quickness. Improving my strength, as well.
Dime: You’re coming off a rookie year where you took home a pair of Rookie of the Month awards and a spot on the All-NBA Rookie First Team. How would you evaluate your first year in the league?
BB: It was pretty good. Even with the injuries I went through, it went pretty well. I always can get better. I felt like I got healthy pretty well towards the end of the season, midway through the season, and I showed the heart and passion I have for the team and the game. It goes a long way in this business, so I can’t really complain with the way I played last year.
Dime: Were there any phases of the NBA you struggled to adjust to at first?
BB: The biggest thing was the three-point line. It’s a lot further than what people really think it is. That was probably the biggest adjustment for me. Also, it (the Wizards) wasn’t a winning team. You have to deal with losing a lot and being able to adjust to that mentally. You have to be mentally tough and move on to the next game.
Dime: I was going to ask you about your three-point shooting. You shot a lot better from the NBA three-point line (39 percent) than from the college three-point line (34 percent). Was this something you worked on at all or did it suddenly come to you that you could start shooting from 25 feet out?
BB: It was a little bit of both. It was my adjustment mentally to say that, “Well I’m shooting here now” in the meantime standing in the gym and be willing and wanting to do it. My coaches and teammates did a great job of pushing me to get better, and just to stay confident. To me, it’s always mind over body, so as long as I was confident, I would make the shots.
Dime: You were speaking about being on a losing Wizards team last year. How exactly does it affect a player of your stature’s mentality? You come from high school and you’re the top dog there and then the University of Florida and you win there, so what’s it like after years of winning to get into the NBA and you’re suddenly losing more games than you’re winning?
BB: It was definitely tough because, like you said, coming from a winning situation and winning programs growing up, you’re not used to losing and you hate losing, and everyone else on the team hates losing. But it’s the NBA and these guys are really good, and you have to really face what your team is made of. You have to be mentally tough and strong enough to be able to say, “Hey, we can compete with these guys, we can beat them,” but it’s definitely tough. We started the season winning two games and then losing 18 and it’s not a great feeling. It definitely humbles you. It pushes you to want to get better.
Dime: Did the level of competition surprise you at all?
BB: Not at all. It was everything I expected it to be. I think what surprised me the most was the amount of respect I’ve gained in the league with my one year; how I knew who I was and what I was capable of doing. It wasn’t anything I was really shell-shocked about. It was everything I expected it to be.