The Phoenix Suns enter the 2023-24 NBA season as one of the few, genuine contenders to win what would be a first ever NBA Championship. Armed with the failures of the past, and a trio of stars in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, there time appears to be now.
Not that everybody is convinced this will be the case. The Western Conference is looking as difficult as ever, with even rebuilding teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers representing difficult outs on any given night.
Not that Suns’ owner Mat Ishbia and the front office will be worried about any of that noise, because they have put the organization in a fantastic position.
While some may argue that the supposed depth that the franchise has amassed is all smoke and mirrors, there is little doubt that new additions in Grayson Allen, Yuta Watanabe and Keita Bates-Diop look like the key ingredients of a productive second unit.
Really though the measure of success for this team starts and ends with their “Big 3”, with the recently added Jusuf Nurkic the x-factor here. A plodding center with a history of injuries going back to the start of this decade, if he is on the court more often than not, the Suns are going to be in great shape once they’ve run the gauntlet of the regular season.
3. Bradley Beal is the best third option in the league
The importance of having Beal as the team’s third option offensively cannot be overstated. Throughout his career, he has averaged over 20 points five times, and over 30 points twice. On three occasions, he has been named an All-Star.
To have done this on a middling Washington Wizards team – and as the best player they had in a lot of those seasons no less – is mightily impressive. It is highly likely that both the amount of shots Beal puts up each night, and his scoring average, come down some on what we’ve seen before. Beal himself certainly expects that to be the case.
In place of this however, is the knowledge that he will be the best third option in the entire league. The Milwaukee Bucks for example just added Damian Lillard, making Khris Middleton their best number three. For the Boston Celtics, that player would be Jrue Holiday. For the Denver Nuggets, it is probably Michael Porter Jr. The Los Angeles Lakers? Most likely Austin Reeves.
All of these players are great in their own way, and the Bucks and Celtics in particular will have no fear of the Suns. The Nuggets continue to be criminally overlooked, despite being the defending champions. All of this is true, but when you break it down come the playoffs, there’s no better third option across the league than Beal. That will matter.