It’s fair to say that Bradley Beal is currently in unfamiliar territory.
Back when he was with the Washington Wizards, Beal had Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma, and Kristaps Porzingis at certain points in his stint in Washington. Yet he’s never had the collection of talent he currently has with the Phoenix Suns.
He’s never had a running mate quite like Devin Booker and even at 35, defenses still respect Kevin Durant. Where does that leave Beal? With a lot of open shots to say the least.
During their short time together in the preseason, having easy shots that came with having two teammates who could attract defenses was balanced with some awkward moments of standing in a corner. This is to be expected after all, given Beal’s arrival this offseason, Durant’s continued transition after coming in during the trade deadline earlier this year, and the general rust that comes with coming back from a long offseason. Adding to the feeling out process is Suns head coach Frank Vogel getting his players up to speed with the system he wants to run.
But Beal’s arrival in Phoenix nonetheless raises some ideas.
In two preseason games he has played in thus far, Beal converted on 11 of his 13 free throw attempts. Moreover, he has attempted the most free throws among him, Booker, and Durant, an interesting development considering their penchant for hunting for free throw attempts. If anything, being able to get to the free throw line will be crucial for Beal when things aren’t going well on offense.
It would be intriguing, though, to see how Beal operates as the de facto third option. When load management is in effect, Beal will obviously move up the food chain, but it won’t be surprising to see him feasting on favorable matchups. The three-time NBA All-Star will definitely be on the attack, but his playmaking ability will only add to the unpredictability.
Of course, this is the preseason and teams have other priorities at the moment so how Beal really fits in the grand scheme of things remains to be seen, especially over the course of an 82-game regular season. A lot can go on during the long regular season, and for players like Beal, Booker, and Durant, health will be an area of focus.
Beal played in all 82 games for consecutive seasons from 2017 to 2019, but he has never played in more than 60 games since then. Having two All-Stars by his side should lessen the load, and in turn, the wear and tear. However, the health of both Durant and Booker could play a factor.
After spending 11 seasons with the Washington Wizards, it’s safe to say that this new chapter with the Phoenix Suns could invigorate Bradley Beal. A new set of teammates and the opportunity it provides are the obvious indications to the fresh start, but how Beal and co. will navigate through this and challenges that come with an NBA season could spell the difference between a dangerous partnership and another failed teamup.