When the Washington Wizards traded away three-time All-Star Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns, a lot of fans were disgruntled, and rightfully so. He was one of the biggest stars the franchise had in a while and was only 160 points away from topping Elvin Hayes as the Wizards’ all-time leading scorer.
But the biggest factor in the fanbase raising eyebrows is the return the Wizards got for him.
In the three-team trade that included the Indiana Pacers, the Wizards received six second-round picks and four first-round pick swaps from the Suns. But they also got the number seven pick sent to them by the Pacers, which was used to select small forward Bilal Coulibaly. From the Suns, the Wizards acquired Chris Paul and Landry Shamet. With hopes of starting a rebuild featuring younger players, they elected to keep Shamet but sent Paul to the Warriors for Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin, Ryan Rollins, and two draft picks.
The 2023-24 season hasn’t started for Bradley Beal yet
Even though some Wizards fans still wish they could’ve kept Beal, this might have been a great decision by the Wizards, considering the way this season is going for him.
The Suns are going into their fifth game of the season and have yet to see the Suns’ so-called “Big Three” take the court together. The fans in Phoenix have seen Kevin Durant and Devin Booker play a total of nine games together but are still waiting to see them joined by Beal.
Right now, Beal is sidelined with a back injury and there’s no timetable for his anticipated return. Injuries have been the story for Beal during his career, particularly in the latter part. Pundits and analysts have taken notice, including sports talk show host Stephen A. Smith.
“I’m a big Bradley Beal fan but since 2019, he’s missed about 105 of the last 312 games,” Smith said on a Wednesday episode of ESPN’s First Take. “He’s missed about 32 games last year, he’s only played 90 games in the last two seasons for crying out loud. And now, they’re talking about back injuries and they don’t know when he’ll be back. I’m starting to get really, really concerned. I need to see this guy on the court.”
The Suns need Beal back to chase a high seed for the playoffs
After playing all 82 games back-to-back during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Beal played just 207 of the possible 308 games. This trend could be a major concern for the Suns, who are looking to make a fourth straight playoff appearance. In order to do so, they need a complete team on the floor. They won the first matchup of the season against the Golden State Warriors but fortunately, Booker played and scored a game-high 32 points. With him now out with a foot injury, it leaves Durant to carry the load. Obviously, it’s not going as hoped, considering the Suns are 1-2 since Booker’s absence.
It seems like Phoenix needs the offensive power Beal provides more than ever. Right now, they are playing mediocre basketball, ranked 15th in the league in points per game with an average of 110. They are still a top favorite to come out of the West but if Beal doesn’t return anytime soon, that could change.