When I talked to Washington Wizards rookie Bradley Beal during preseason, he spoke very highly of fellow shooting guard Manu Ginobili, even calling him dynamic and dangerous.
Beal had hoped to get the opportunity to play against Ginobili that night, but with the Spurs all-star guard sidelined with an injury, Beal instead faced and struggled against Danny Green, with the 19-year-old failing to score a point in the game.
Now, exactly one month later, Beal will have his chance to play against a player he has looked up to.
“I’m looking forward to playing against (Ginobili),” Beal said last month. “He’s one of the best guards in the league so whenever I have the opportunity to play against anybody like that, I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
While it was a bad night for Beal before a season full of potential at the time, he and the Wizards find themselves winless entering tonight's game.
Beal has also had his share of struggles along the way, averaging 11.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 28 minutes per game.
Beal, known for his smooth shooting stroke and expected to blossom into one of the NBA's best pure shooters, has had his issues with the one thing he may have thought he mastered. He is currently shooting 32 percent from the field and has bad shooting nights (3-12, 4-12, 3-14, 1-11) littered across his early season stat sheet.
Beal has been bouncing between the starting lineup and bench all season with the Wizards hoping one lineup will stick. Once expected to be a second or third place Rookie of the Year candidate, NBA.com's recent rookie rankings have him seventh among rookies.
While Beal said his transition to the NBA went along smoothly with several veteran players mentoring him, his season has probably had more bumps in the road than expected. Although at 19, with a ton of pressure to help get a winless team into the win column, it was never expected to be easy.
That theme will continue tonight as Beal will see plenty of Green and Ginobili in front of him. If that's not a rookie wall, I don't know what is.