Wizards' Bradley Beal strongly endorses Bulls' Zach LaVine for NBA All-Star

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K.C. Johnson
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Beal supports LaVine for All-Star: 'Zach is a special talent' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Averaging a league-leading 32.8 points per game, Wizards guard Bradley Beal knows a little something about scoring. Earning his third All-Star game appearance and first starting nod on Thursday, Beal knows something about that distinction too.

And in a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller that airs in full on Saturday, Beal stumped hard for Zach LaVine.

"I feel like Zach is damn near destroying the league right now," Beal told Miller. "Like every night, he's giving it to you -- three-level scorer. And he's doing it efficiently."

Indeed, LaVine is averaging a career-best 28.5 points per game while shooting -- by a wide margin -- a career-best 52 percent. Add 43.7 percent shooting from 3-point range and 84.7 percent shooting from the free-throw line and LaVine is enjoying a special season offensively.

"Zach is a special talent. He's more than deserving of a spot," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. "What he's able to do on the floor, you have to plan for him. When you see the Chicago Bulls, 'Oh, we got Zach LaVine tonight.' You know that's the game plan. You know the plan is to stop him. You gotta respect that."

The Bulls and Wizards have already played three times this season. LaVine averaged a relatively modest 22.5 points in back-to-back victories at Washington in late December.

Then, he and Beal staged a memorable shootout at the United Center on Feb. 8. Both scored 35 points, with Beal sinking three crucial free throws around a point-blank miss by LaVine under defensive pressure from Alex Len late. Beal and LaVine matched up against each other throughout much of the game, another thing Beal said he respects about LaVine.

"I think people are going to snub him like they did me (last season). And I hope they don't because he got my vote," Beal told the station. "It sucks. But me and him are killing the East as guards. I'll never say you're better than me, but he's hooping."

LaVine finished fourth in Eastern Conference backcourt voting behind starters Beal and Kyrie Irving, plus likely reserve lock James Harden in the weighted results announced Thursday. He finished fourth in fan voting behind those three players, tied Harden for third among player voting (which always carries the most cache) and fifth in media voting behind the same three players plus the Celtics' Jaylen Brown.

Coaches' reserve picks are announced Thursday. Beal believes LaVine should join him on March 7 in Atlanta for the game. Stay tuned.

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