A ‘rejuvenated’ Bradley Beal is nervous just thinking about all the possibilities with his new Phoenix Suns team.
During his introductory press conference on the Suns’ big signing this summer, Beal was asked what it would be like to play alongside Devin Booker and Kevin Durant rather than having to be the center of opposing defenses like he has been in Washington for years.
“Good luck with that, huh?” Beal cut him off as he discussed the dilemma facing the defense this season against the Suns. “I get nervous just thinking about it because I didn’t have those opportunities, and the same goes for the other two guys and the prosecutor.” [Deandre Ayton].
“… I am happy. You can guard Devin and K tonight and I can relax a bit and not have to fight so many double teams. A little more free throws. I can work on my catch and shoot a little bit more.”
Beal, 30, said it was bittersweet to have to leave Washington, the only team he has ever played for and a city with which he has formed “emotional” ties. Beal had a no trade clause so he could dictate where he would be traded and what package that could fetch. This process was emotional for him before deciding to join the Suns, who traded Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, six second-round picks and four first-round pick swaps to the Wizards for Beal, Jordan Goodwin and Isaiah Todd.
Beal will feature in a squad designed to challenge for a championship for the first time in his 11-year career. He plays alongside Booker and Durant, the two highly successful all-star scorers, and former No. 1 overall winner Ayton.
Beal, who averaged 30.5 points and 31.3 points per game for the Wizards in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, isn’t worried about adjusting, finding shots or maybe a point guard in the stacked Having to play the Suns offense. And he’s not worried about who will star, although he nodded to Booker, who is entering his ninth season with the Suns.
“I don’t look at the NBA like, ‘Oh, that’s my team,’ ‘Oh, that’s your team,'” Beal explained. “It’s about everyone. We all have to compete against each other. We all have to do this thing together and make it happen.”
“But understand that this is Book Nation.” I understand that this is his territory, this is his arena, and I’m happy about that. I’m happy to play with two Hall of Famers. I’ve never done that before. They’re gonna push me in. I’ve never been pushed. Hopefully I can do the same.”
The shooting guard said this is the first summer in recent years that he’s been able to work on his game and body after recovering from injury. Beal has not played more than 60 games in a season since 2018/19. He has averaged 23.2 points in each of the last two seasons.
“The biggest thing is that they were knick-knacks,” Beal said of what he was dealing with. “There were a couple of the ones that I was a bit persistent on coming back from my injuries and re-injuring them and extending my time-out a bit. But there wasn’t anything that was structurally wrong with my body or anything. It wasn’t doing me any harm.” Body enormous.
“…My body is in much better shape now. This is the first summer in two or three years that I’ve had a full summer. i can train I’ve always been injured over the past few years.” All year round. Last year, I was recovering from wrist surgery, so I could do next to nothing until October. So this is the first time I’ve legitimately needed to exercise and work on my body and I’m very passionate about that as best I can.
The Suns have yet to find roleplayers to surround their new Big Three and figure out not only who could make the starting XI alongside Booker, Beal, Durant and Ayton, but what to do as point guards.
New head coach Frank Vogel mentioned point guard Cam Payne multiple times during the press conference as someone included in the starting XI. But Vogel also said he was comfortable with one of his superstars playing the ball most of the time.
“I’m very comfortable with Beal and Booker as starting players,” Vogel said. “But we’re going to look at that fifth place maybe it’s a Cam Payne or a point guard and we’re going to look at maybe a 3, 4-type defender position. These things will affect the camp.”
“I like the idea of bringing these guys in with a point guard, moving them up to him and having them attack. But I know they can do it on their own. And we saw that at Book’s , career, through Bradley’s career. And again, the pace we want to play at, I think most possessions will have a different ball handler each time. It will be an attack with multiple ball handlers.
Beal is looking forward to the Suns’ tremendous title expectations after failing to get past the second round of the Eastern Conference three times in Washington.
The last time Beal said he was pushed by another star to take his game to a new level was when he played alongside Russell Westbrook in the 2020/21 season.
“I’m being pushed,” Beal said. “The last time I was there was Russ. Seeing Russ every day, his work ethic, his mentality took my game to a new level. And I think it will be the same here when I’m with the championship coach.” [Vogel]at K has two [championships], Book, who played in the final? DA’s played in the finals.
“Their mentality will be very different from what I’ve seen so far. I think that will push my game, prepare my mentality and I’m looking forward to it.”