The Wizards announced Tuesday that Bradley Beal will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a stress injury to his proximal right fibula. The second-year guard has been experiencing soreness, the team noted, and he will be reevaluated after the rest to determine the next steps. If he misses two weeks, and only two weeks, Beal will be sidelined for Washington's next seven games.
Beal, 20, was shut down at the end of his rookie season because of a stress injury to his distal right fibula. He told reporters that the two injuries are similar but not directly related and that he doesn't believe this is as serious as the first injury, which wound up sidelining him for months.
"[The injury] kind of just popped up out of nowhere," Beal told reporters, in comments recorded by MonumentalNetwork.com. "It's been lingering for like a week. I thought it was calf soreness for awhile, and it escalated more. It felt similar to like what it did last year. ... It's not the same injury as last year or a re-injury. It's similar, just in a different location on the bone, higher up on the bone. It was way less [pain] than what it was last year."
Washington is 5-8 so far this season and in pursuit of the franchise's first playoff appearance since 2008. Beal leads the Wizards by averaging 20.6 points per game and 40.2 minutes per game, and Washington's advanced numbers have plummeted this season when he's left the court. He told reporters he considered trying to play through the pain but ultimately decided that the longer-term focus was more important.
"I could probably play, I could duke it out, but I did it last year and that didn't work out too well," Beal said.
The No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft isn't just leading his team in minutes, he's currently No. 1 in the NBA in minutes per game despite being one of the league's youngest players. There is only one other player in the league -- Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams -- who is younger than 23 years old and among the top 20 players in minutes per game. ESPN.com also noted that there isn't any loafing to Beal's game: SportVU's advanced statistics have him leading the league with 2.9 miles run per game.
Throwing all the blame for Beal's multiple stress injuries on his workload might be presumptuous, but he's completely out on an island this year when it comes to how much is being asked of him at such a young age. Still, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said Tuesday that he was totally comfortable with what was being asked of Beal.
"[I'm] absolutely [OK with his minutes]," Grunfeld told reporters. "He's been playing great. He hasn't shown any signs of favoring it or anything. He's been playing terrific basketball and it's something that was bothering him. He complained about it, and as soon as he did, we had it checked out. We want to be proactive with this and very cautious."
It's unclear how "proactive" and "cautious" could in any way describe how the Wizards have handled Beal's playing time this season. In fact, wouldn't being forced to rest a young player after pushing him past his body's limits -- if that is what happened here -- actually be more like "reactive" and "possibly careless"?
Whether you're willing to cut Washington some slack or not, they are up a creek without Beal, to put it mildly. The drop-off from when he plays to when he goes to the bench is comical, and the available reserves who will need to pick up some of the slack in his absence are borderline-NBA talents.
On-court -- Offensive Rating: 102.5 | Defensive Rating: 101.4 | Net Rating: plus-1.1
Off-court -- Offensive Rating: 89.2 | Defensive Rating: 110.8 | Net Rating: minus-21.8
Last season, the Wizards struggled mightily when John Wall
went down with a knee injury and a similar prospect could await them if Beal winds up missing more time than is initially anticipated. No matter when Beal returns, Washington should use this time off to reevaluate the size and scope of his role. This is a budding All-Star talent who should be a franchise bedrock for a decade-plus; we can only hope that he arrives at his potential in one piece.