Wizards take Beal with No.3 pick in draft

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Shooting guard to pair with Wall in backcourt

Bradley Beal got the gift of a lifetime, celebrating his 19th birthday on the same day he became the third pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was also a present for the Wizards, who selected the Florida freshman after weathering a storm of speculation that another team might trade up and take him with the second pick owned by the Charlotte Bobcats.

But when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went to Charlotte, Washington was free to take its preferred next step in a multi-season rebuilding project, adding a complementary shooting guard to pair in the backcourt with franchise cornerstone John Wall.

"It was important to get someone not just for John, but for the whole team," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

Draft notes
» The Wizards used their second-round pick, the 32nd choice overall, on 6-foot-7, 21-year-old Czech guard Tomas Satoransky, who isn't likely to play in the NBA next year.
» Washington D.C. also saw two of its own go in the first round. Kansas forward and District native Thomas Robinson was selected fifth by the Sacramento Kings, while Dumfries native and North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall went to the Phoenix Suns with the 13th pick.

Beal, a 6-foot-5, 202-pound St. Louis native, averaged 14.8 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds in his one season with the Gators. He answered any questions about his NBA size when he worked out earlier in the month for the Wizards, who were taken by more than just his jump shot.

"His ability to shoot the ball, it's just something that is very easy to him," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "The added 3-point line in the NBA from college, not a problem. ... He's got a willingness to defend, rebound, and those are things that go into being a quality player. And then on top of it is the person. That's really the thing that sold me at the end."

Despite four consecutive losing seasons in Washington, Beal joins the Wizards with a fraction of the pressure heaped upon Wall when he was taken with the No. 1 pick in 2010, team majority owner Ted Leonsis explained just before the draft got underway.

"I don't want to be in the lottery anymore," Leonsis said of his expectations for next year. "I would find that unacceptable."

While Beal will be expected to earn his minutes and develop slowly, Wittman said he talked to current starting shooting guard Jordan Crawford earlier in the day.

"He's all on board," Wittman said. "We all understand what we need to do in terms of making this team better."

Wall, who was also in attendance for the team's draft party at Verizon Center, called Beal "a smart basketball player," one who can knock down shots when he gets the ball into the paint.

"We're not saying he's the main missing piece," Wall said. "But he's a piece and a link that can help us out and help us make a run to the playoffs."

The draft opened as expected, with Kentucky freshman forward Anthony Davis going to New Orleans first overall. Beal said he was nervous about teams trading for him but felt at ease once the second pick was announced. It was the first time freshmen were selected with the draft's first three selections.

"I felt like the relationship, it was there," said Beal, who Wittman said had tried to coax a promise out of the Wizards during his workout in Washington. "I felt the feel for the organization and the whole city itself, it just felt right."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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