Peacetime in the NBA lasted three days following the Nuggets’ parade through Denver. Phoenix swiped Bradley Beal from suitors, sending back expired goods in Chris Paul that might be surrendered, plus acquired a pointless asset in Landry Shamet with some sloppy seconds.
Real deal Beal and the Wizards finally divorced after 11 years with zero trips out of round two. Yet, he was third all-time in minutes played in the regular season for the squad (24,091).
Through 740 outings, Beal logged 16,448 points in the Playoffs and regular season as a Wizard. In the last two years, he was limited to 90 games because of injuries and a suspected soft tank. When available, he is a fierce three-level firecracker who draws extra attention and is underappreciated as a secondary passer.
Before last season, the top brass did him no favors, exchanging Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Ish Smith for Will past “The Thrill” Barton and Monte Morris to the mountain cowtown. Yes, that squad that became the second team from the ABA consolidation in 1976 to win a title after the Spurs.
This Just In: The Kroenke family is weighing sending exiled Wiz general manager Tommy Sheppard a cubic zirconia-laced circlet for arming the champs with the Pope and Smith’s valuable counsel from the sidelines.
Beal is a gunslinger, but, surprisingly, Phoenix emerged in the hunt for him post signing Frank Vogel as head coach when it needed a point guard or reserve munitions. For his career, the former Gator has recorded a scant 10% of his time as lead orchestrator, per Basketball Reference’s position estimate.
The new acquisition doesn’t fit Frankie’s mold on defense either because Beal isn’t recognized as a disruptor, but he has a 6 ‘8 wingspan to work with. The one thing I’m sure to rule out is the Suns throwing Russell Westbrook a life preserver.
But wait. Do the Suns have enough to offset the coin flip curse of 1969?
Dissatisfied Deandre Ayton might develop an allergy to the rock playing and screening next to three high-usage scorers. He’s needed a fresh start for multiple seasons, but the Suns kept him hostage. There’s no word if the top brass will negotiate a ransom with an interested outfit for help in other areas. Although, I fear dealing DominAyton will have less than stellar returns because of two recent Playoff letdowns.
The Suns have three ignitable weapons. Guarding this group on a sideline inbound will be a nightmare dealing with a trifecta that’s effective working off a script.
Before Game 5 of round two, the Nuggets and Suns were tied with two wins. For the pivotal next game at Ball Arena, the Suns used 12 players, and one of its starters logged eight minutes. At the very least, having Beal (healthy) lets Phoenix roll with a shorter rotation. Putting in Beal for Josh Okogie might be an approximation, too, of when Durant replaced Harrison Barnes in the Warriors lineup seven years ago. There’s a deadlier marksman now behind the sights.
Devin Booker, KD and Beal can each attract a double team, but how does a rival send one if the Suns are moving the ball and keeping Ayton and the fifth starter involved? Perhaps when one sits, but most of the game will go by with at least two in.
On the other side, Beal will work with proven schemes and capable defenders. For this to work, he must stay in front of the ball outside, get over screens quickly and never leave his feet. If he does get beat, Durant and Ayton will likely be roaming behind him in the backline. Significant strides on this end are achievable. The new guy will see firsthand at training camp with Booker when they match up.
Beal made the rich even wealthier, and he gets to age gracefully next to some of the best. The Nuggets won’t sweat this, but the rest of the West will.