Phoenix Suns fourth-quarter MVP: Bradley Beal finally showed up

The Phoenix Suns needed a new spark to get them over the hump and into the playoffs, and Bradley Beal obliged with his best stretch of the season.
Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns are headed to the playoffs proper having avoided the dangerous play-in tournament route, but this was far from a straightforward season for the organization. In fact you could make the case the Suns were the most inconsistent group in the entire league during the regular season.

After watching Kevin Durant be named the first-half MVP for the franchise - with head coach Frank Vogel taking home third-quarter of the season honors - the Suns desperately needed another player to stand up and carry them over the finish line.

Which is why - despite struggling through the first-half of the season - Bradley Beal was the team's fourth-quarter MVP, and it came at just the right time.

This last stretch of games was where it felt like Beal finally figured out the best way to co-exist next to two superstars in Durant and Devin Booker. Whereas earlier in the season he was too passive - and that was when he was available as he missed plenty of time through injury - the last 10 games in particular saw Beal have a positive impact and not just stay in his lane.

There were impressive performances against the Sacramento Kings - where Beal sealed the win for his team - and another great outing against the Minnesota Timberwolves to close out the 82 game slate. In fact for the month of April, Beal is averaging 21 points and 4.5 assists, shooting an ludicrous 69.4 percent from 3-point range on just over three attempts per game.

There is an even better figure associated with Beal during this run though, and that is 35.3. The amount of minutes he managed per game as the Suns went 6-2 to close out the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA. At a time when the Suns needed all hands on deck to get to the playoffs, Beal figured out how best to have a positive impact.

Defensively he was also better than advertized, to the point where it will not be a surprise if Beal guards Anthony Edwards of the Timberwolves for stretches of their playoff series. Despite having several injuries over the course of the season - and being 30-years-old - Beal looks like he is the quickest player on this Suns roster.

What that means is he can stay in front of quicker guards, while Durant spends some time trying to contain Edwards. That side of the ball is not why the Suns went out and got Beal last summer, and yet it could end up being the most important part of what he brings to a Suns starting group that is limited by having center Jusuf Nurkic on the floor.

Really though Beal clinches this award from himself because of the "Point Beal" looks that he has given the fans over the last month or so. With Booker looking like the de facto point guard for this team through the early goings of the season - and succeeding while doing it - the fact Beal has come in and allowed Booker to go back to what he does best in scoring has been great for the team.

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It has brought better balance to the roster - and although the Suns had one of the worst turnover rates in the entire league during the regular season - funnelling more plays through Beal has helped some. In the last 10 games they've risen to a still awful 23rd, at 14.8 per game. A number that is still better than the 14.9 they managed as a whole.

So it is not a case that this was Beal's award to lose. Booker not winning it once this season seems criminal given this may just have been his best regular season statistically. Durant was also doing Durant things for that last quarter, although outside of that there was no unexpected competition. But Beal went out and rightfully took this award, a fitting end to a tough season personally for him.