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Bradley Beal is making the leap

The Wizards shooting guard is becoming a star in his fourth season in the league.

Bradley Beal looked like the star the Wizards need him to be against the Spurs on Wednesday. He finished the game with 25 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, but most notably, he connected on the game-winning three-pointer to power Washington to a 102-99 victory over a top West contender.

Beal was instrumental in keeping the Wizards in the game in the first three quarters. John Wall struggled to score and was in facilitator mode, so Washington needed someone to put points on the board. Beal, along with Otto Porter, answered that call. He was a terror in transition and used his jumper to create open looks in the half court, even with Kawhi Leonard draped all over him.

Wall took over the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points, but Beal didn't fade into the background, pitching in six of his own to help the comeback. Then with the game tied and seven seconds to go, he had the chance to give his team the win and didn't flinch.

"It was a great play drew up by [coach Randy Wittman]," Beal told CSN Washington's Chris Miller on the broadcast after the game. "It was really for John to penetrate off of [Marcin] Gortat. He looked at me before we even left the huddle. He said 'be ready because I might throw it to you early. You might be open.' And I was open. I see [LaMarcus] Aldridge run out and thought 'there's no way he's going to stop me either way.' So I just took the best shot that was available and I knocked down a three."

Beal was billed as a great shooter entering the draft and successfully made the transition to the NBA, averaging 40 percent on three-point attempts through his first three seasons in the league. The knock on him was that he often settled for mid-range jumpers instead of threes. That's not true anymore. Notice how many more of his shots are at the rim and behind the three-point line as opposed to the area between the arc and the paint.

Beal shot distribution

Aldridge had to watch out for the drive on that final play because Beal is attacking the cup much more often. He's averaging over seven drives per game, per SportVU data, almost twice as many as last season. He's converting at a much higher level when he puts the ball on the floor too, going from 42.6 percent on drives to 53.3 percent.

It's early in his fourth season in the league, but Beal is living up to his potential and becoming a well-rounded and efficient offensive player. He really is the perfect complement for Wall and an ideal fit for the Wizards' new pace-and-space offense. There is no doubt that he'll receive a maximum contract next summer, almost certainly from the Wizards.

The Warriors still have the best backcourt in the league, but if Beal can continue to play like this, they could soon have serious competition for that title.