Bradley Beal has been an NBA star for a few years now, but it's only just beginning to turn into recognition from fans and the media.
He's long been valued properly by his peers, as evidenced by last year's All-Star voting. In 2020, Beal finished fifth in voting by the media and ninth in voting by the fans, but he was second in voting by his fellow players.
The player vote hasn't gone anywhere, but now the fans and media have caught up - he finished first in all three categories among East guards for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
Beal's numbers haven't changed too much from year to year. Last season, he averaged 30.5 points per game and 6.1 assists with a 52.0 eFG%. This season, he's averaging 32.8 points and 4.7 assists on 52.5 eFG%.
So, if the numbers are similar, what else changed?
"I don’t know, part of me feels like its people wanting me out of D.C., part of that generating that buzz, people seeing what I'm doing on the nightly," Beal said when asked by NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on Thursday night.
"At first it was 'oh, he has MVP numbers.' And now, we're all in quarantine, people don't have a choice but to watch the game instead of being box score fans, now you're actually seeing what I'm doing on the floor on a nightly. And so I think that plays a part in it. Being able to have people watch your games more."
New social norms and safety measures across the country as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have certainly played a role in fans' watching habits, giving them fewer entertainment options on a nightly basis. And Beal believes that, despite his video game statistics, his overall impact on the court requires a fan to actually watch the games to appreciate.
Beyond that, the Wizards' superstar is at a loss.
"Honestly I don't know, because I'm right there with you," Beal said in the interview. "I don't feel like there's a significant difference between what I did last year and this year. Maybe I'm more aggressive? I don't know what it is."
Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 9 p.m. Saturday for full coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Trail Blazers