Are the Gators better without Bradley Beal?

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There is a pretty good chance that a fair amount of Gator Nation will not agree with the thesis of this article. But, that has not stopped us from posting controversial topics before (see our  Jacksonville Jaguars/Tebow piece if you need an example). So here we go…

The 2012-2013 Gator Basketball team is a better team without the Gators best 2011-2012 player in Bradley Beal.

I can NOT in good conscience sit here and bash Bradley Beal’s talent. He is an amazing talent, a Gator through and through. He’s having a great rookie season for the Washington Wizards, and the Wiz are going to win more games now that John Wall is back in the line up. As a Gator, Beal had NBA Talent and everyone knew it (I do mean everyone…we’ll get to that later).  So how am I going to defend my thesis? It’s going to be a simple explanation: addition by subtraction.

Bradley-BealThe 2012-2013 Gator Basketball Squad is a more complete “team” without Beal. This year’s team has successfully replaced Beal’s scoring, and is playing MUCH better team defense. The Gators have two more wins after 17 games (15) then they did at this point last season. Ok, some will say that perhaps this year’s schedule is easier…we could debate that, but for the sake of this post let’s just call it even. But how about this…

Erving Walker often took heat for turnovers and poor decision making while toting the rock more than anyone else, but did you know that Bradley Beal actually led last year’s team in turnovers (79) and not little Erv (76)? But I’ll even take it one step further…Beal had a 1.05 assist to turnover ratio, and Walker’s was 2.24. No current Gator guard has an assist to turnover ratio as low as Beal’s was last year.

Now for some of the subjective stuff.  Ever been at Southwest Rec playing a pick up game and it is clear within three trips down the court that one of the guy’s you just picked up is one step better than everyone else? That guy scores 7 of your 11 points on like 7 of 9 shooting, and you run the other team off the court. Then in Game 2 you expect a similar performance from the guy but this time he goes cold and shoots 4 for 11 and if you are lucky you eek out a win. I think the team recognized Beal’s talent, and often the team suffered because of it. I think at key points last year the team deferred to Beal for scoring opportunities and did not play the best team offense. Couple that with Beal not being the best defensive team player, and you have a weaker team as a whole than this year’s team.

(If you want to see another example of this “addition by subtraction” phenomena then look at this year’s Duke squad who is missing Austin Rivers…just saying.)

Gator Nation learned from the back to back National Championships that team ball wins out. The ’04s were a historic group of guys and at no point during their runs did I feel like the team was deferring to one player. At any moment in any game someone could and would step up. I feel that the 2012-13 Gators have been showing consistent team offense and defense (more so on the defensive side).  They are so far the closest thing from a team ball perspective that we’ve seen since the ’04s. We’ll have to wait and see if this year’s team can make it past the dreaded Elite 8 to the Final Four and potentially the Championship.

I left a few more angles to this story for you guys to tee off on…so answer the poll below and leave your reasoning in the comments…

Are the 2012-2013 Gators a more complete team without Bradley Beal?

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9 Responses to Are the Gators better without Bradley Beal?

  1. Andrew says:

    I agree with most, if not all, of your points. With Beal gone its allowed other players (Murph, Yeguette, Prather, Rosario) to step up and thrive offensively while still buying into a great team defensive attitude. Not that Beal didn’t, but as a freshman, he would inexplicably fall out of games whereas we have senior leadership that call upon each other to compete.

    • Paul Sjoberg says:

      Exactly it’s not that it is Beal’s fault or he was doing something wrong, I just think the abscence of a “Star” player has allowed the other players to grow and form into a better “team”. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Brian Penter says:

    The reason this team is better (or at least appears to be at this point) is not because Beal’s gone. It’s because Erving Walker is gone.

    Wilbekin is such a huge upgrade over Walker defensively and it’s clearly shown in the ridiculous defensive numbers the team’s putting up this year. Look at what Wilbekin did to Pressley and Turner. Offensively, Wilbekin has a much better shot selection than Walker as well and I think that’s one of the main reasons the offense flows better.

    I just don’t think there’s any way this team would be worse if Beal were still here. By the end of last season, he was arguably the best player in the country. He was a great defender and led the team in rebounds. He also wasn’t selfish on offense, taking 10.5 shots/game, which isn’t a ton for a team’s best player (by comparison this year, Boynton takes 10.2/game). He was also clearly the go-to guy in tight situations, which is the one area this year’s team has struggled (Can’t see the team blowing that lead late at Arizona with the ball in Beal’s hands).

    So, respectfully, I disagree.

    • Paul Sjoberg says:

      Really like your response and how you phrased it. I can see your point, Wilbekin naturally can do a lot of things Walker couldn’t. And in no way do I want to insinuate that Beal was a ball hog…but Beal was clearly the best talent/NBA ready player on the squad and I think mentally last year’s team let that affect them (for good and for bad).

    • Andrew says:

      It’s hard to phrase what I’m trying to say, so bear with me. Walker’s absence and Scottie’s presence is a huge factor in this conversation. Naturally, Scottie has a better chance to succeed just due to his size. He also has some of the best lateral quickness I’ve ever seen from a college player defensively.

      Regarding Beal, I think his absence provides more of a buy in from the team mentally. The fact that Murph, Rosario, etc can get increased shots makes the, buy in more on the defensive end, just from being more involved. Beal is a great player, as we can see in the NBA. I just think he’s a better fit there for him and mentally for the team.

  3. ElMeester says:

    Those stats tell one story, but I think to really tell the story, you have to go deeper.

    Walker and Beal shouldn’t be compared by assist-to-turnover ratio because Walker, as the point guard and primary ball-handler, is naturally going to have way more opportunities to pile assists. And to be fair to Walker, as the primary ball handler, to NOT lead the team in turnovers was a positive.

    But now compare Walker and this year’s starting PG Scottie Wilbekin. This year, Wilbekin is averaging more assists and less turnovers than Walker did last year. Wilbekin also takes less shots per game, and connects from the field at a higher percentage (45% to 40%) than Walker did in his senior year.

    For my tastes, Wilbekin has a better understanding of what a “pass first” point guard under Donovan’s system should look like. And the results are are better inside game (Young) and more open 3s for the wingers (Murphy & Rosario).

    And then as we all know, the more involved the entire team is on offense, the more they want to give maximum effort on the defensive end. And we can clearly see how our team defense has improved. (Another aspect of Wilbekin’s game that is much better than Walker’s.)

  4. Terri says:

    Stats and facts bear out this year’s team is better than last year’s team — But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be even better w/ Beal. He is an unselfish and team player. You make good points regarding team counting on Beal at critical times last year but don’t think it would happen w/ senior leadership.

  5. AdamB says:

    Nooooooope. I think that this year’s team is better than last year’s team. It is because of the development of other players and the lack of Erving Walker though. Wilbikin is a better point guard this year then Walker was last year. But if you inserted Beal for Rosario, even though Rosario has grown up A LOT, I think this year’s team would be even better.

  6. FIL says:

    I go along with a lot of what you said,BUT I think the Gator’s are better despite losing Beal. The key this year has been defense and losing 5’8″ Erving Walker is a big part of that. Walker’s size or lack of it created a lot of mismatch’s defensively. Collectively the Gator’s are shutting down the top opponent scorer each game, you’ll win a lot of games doing that.

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