Bradley Beal excited to ‘chill and not face so many double-teams’ with Suns

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Bradley Beal had control of where he landed in his trade from the Washington Wizards.

At his introductory news conference Thursday, he explained why he greenlit the deal to join the Phoenix Suns while waiving the NBA’s only no-trade clause. Among other things, Beal’s excited about not being the focal point of opposing defenses while playing alongside All-Stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.

“Good luck with that, right?” Beal said. … “I get get antsy thinking about it because I haven’t had those opportunities. It’s the same with the other two guys — and [Deandre Ayton]. …

“K, Dev, DA, these guys are a great core piece to the franchise. I’m happy that you can go guard Devin and K tonight, and I can chill a little bit and not face so many double-teams.”

Beal’s basketball world is about to change dramatically. He’s played his entire 11-season career on a Wizards franchise largely bereft of star power that never advanced past the second round of the playoffs. He played alongside John Wall and Kristaps Porziņģis in separate stints, but he’s spent the bulk of his NBA career as the No. 1 scoring option on a bad team.

In Phoenix, he’ll be the No. 3 option behind Booker and Durant and on some nights will take a back seat to Ayton — assuming Ayton remains on the roster next season. After failing to advance past the first round of the playoffs for six straight seasons, Beal sounds just fine with all of the above.

“I’m super ecstatic that every single day I have a chance to play in a meaningful game,” Beal said. “That’s one of the biggest decisions that impacted me of coming here — of knowing that every single night, I’m going to be in an important game. Every single night, I may have a chance of being on television. Every single night, teams are gonna give us their best.”

The Suns will enter free agency with arguably the league’s most top-heavy roster. It’s a makeup that was set in motion when they dealt Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and a boatload of draft picks for Durant at the in-season trade deadline. That iteration of Suns struggled to compete in a 4-2 second-round playoff loss to the eventual champion Denver Nuggets.

Bradley Beal doesn't mind his new role with the Suns as a third option. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Bradley Beal doesn’t mind his new role with the Suns as a third option. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Suns have since jettisoned Chris Paul and welcomed Beal. They maintain the top-heavy composition of their roster amid reported failed attempts to trade Ayton in search of depth. Beal represents the most notable and impactful roster addition thus far this season. Can he make a difference for a Suns team seeking to usurp the Nuggets in the West?

That remains to be seen, of course. At his best, Beal is one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers. But he’s not a particularly efficient one. Beal ranked 82nd in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage last season among players who averaged 25 minutes while playing in 30 or more games. As the Wizards’ playoff record indicates, he’s never contributed to significant winning in the NBA.

He also joins a team with two shoot-first All-Stars and without a clear-cut point guard. One of Beal or Booker will have to carry the ball-handling load with an assist from backup Cameron Payne.

The Suns are banking on Beal finding an effective niche when he’s not asked to be the team’s first or even second scoring option most nights. How he adjusts to being a third option — while not facing double-teams — will go a long way in determining if the Suns can take the next step in the West. It will be one of the NBA’s most fascinating experiments next season.

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