The Phoenix Suns need Bradley Beal to win their first-ever NBA championship in 2023-24.

Beal, who is a three-time All-Star, needs to be on the court.

The Suns' star is averaging 18.2 points, which is third behind top-10 talents Kevin Durant (28.0) and Devin Booker (28.5). However, Beal has played more than 15 games fewer than each of his co-stars, an unfortunate development after he said in the preseason he had been as healthy as he's felt in multiple seasons.

“I think the biggest thing (of his injuries before Phoenix) is they were knick-knacks,” Beal said at his introductory press conference in June. “A few of them that I was a little hard-headed coming back from injuries and re-injured them and prolonged my time out a little bit longer, but there's nothing that was structurally wrong with my body or anything that required surgery.”

Beal's impact has been improved. After he missed almost all of preseason camp and through December with a back injury, Beal suffered an ankle sprain Dec. 15, which was the first time he, Durant and Booker played together in the regular season.

Beal played the entire month of January and help the Suns finish 11-5. Booker, who had been the point guard before Beal's return, was relieved of handling the role full-time and earned Western Conference Player of the Month honors, something that would not have happened without Beal.

Beal suffered his hamstring injury five minutes into the Suns' win over Pacific Division rivals, the Sacramento Kings, on Feb. 13. He is making his return to the lineup March 2 against the Houston Rockets.

Booker has dealt with hamstring injuries, saying it's something that can cause you to hesitate on the floor.

“It's just not having to think about it and do whatever your body wants instead of thinking about it and doing it,” said Booker of Beal's recovery.

Beal will be on a minutes “plan,” according to Suns coach Frank Vogel. Beal in February before he got hurt averaged 22 points on 52 percent shooting, including 41.2 percent from three. Beal also had surgery on his nose fracture suffered Jan. 26 versus the Pacers.

“Every game, every minute those three guys are on the floor together, they're the ones that are going to win for us and lose for us in the playoffs,” Vogel said.

Beal's third option move

Beal is reported to be a point guard for the Suns even though he had played fewer than 10 percent of his minutes at the position in 2022-23 and 2021-22.

Beal is one of the best penetrators in the NBA. ESPN's Zach Lowe said the following in an article about how Beal and the Suns would work their strategy.

“Point guards typically have the ball the most, and hold it the longest. That is one potential structural flaw skeptics see in this tossed-together would-be superteam: all three of its central stars are good at running an offense, and there are diminishing returns in shifting too much control of it to the Suns' third-best player — Beal — at the expense of Booker and Durant.

It's easy to overthink these things. If Durant, Booker and Beal are reasonably healthy, the Suns' offense will almost certainly be awesome. When all three stars can shoot, dribble, and pass at high levels, their combined talent tends to overwhelm any issue of overlapping skill sets. Durant is perhaps the most malleable superstar in league history, capable of dominating games without dominating the ball. For all the attention on the decline of Beal's 3-point shooting, he has been consistently at 38% or better — and often over 40% — on catch-and-shoot looks. He should get many more in Phoenix than he did on moribund Washington Wizards teams — more than at any time since John Wall was spraying passes around D.C.

If the Suns ever feel like they are succumbing to the dreaded “there's only one ball!” problem — if the offense feels stagnant or somehow out of balance — they should tap into one way the Washington Wizards deployed Beal last season more (by far) than ever before: using him as an on-ball screener instead of an every-possession ball handler.”

Beal is one of the best penetrators in the NBA. Bball Index shows his best skills from the 2020-21 season, when he competed with Warriors' Steph Curry for the NBA scoring title and averaged 31.3 points, versus the last two years in Washington, when his statistics dipped to 23.2 points per game, respectively.

Bradley Beal


Bradley Beal


Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal



Beal has been someone coach Frank Vogel and players have pointed to as a vocal leader. He has also been animated on the Suns' bench.

ClutchPoints followed up previously on Beal's criticism of the team's defense, which he has called both “trash” and “tragic.” Phoenix has since improved dramatically.

The Suns in the last 10 games are second in the NBA in half court defense.

Key quotes

Beal: “It was a difficult decision, honestly. But it all came down to Washington and their front office. I respect them and what they do, and I’m not going to get too into what they do and other teams and the process of all that, because it was a tough one. I’m not going to say it was an easy one, and Phoenix knows better than anybody how tough of a decision this whole process was. So out of respect for them and what they’re trying to do in free agency, I’ll let them answer those questions when the time comes.”

Beal: “This is an exciting moment for me. This is an awesome team. Like coach said, we have a very, very awesome corps that I’m just happy to be a part of, and excited to push these guys every single day and learn from them as well. So my family and I look forward to meeting everybody here, engaging with everybody, the city, the fans, the community. I’m very big on being (as) impactful as I can, so I look forward to meeting everybody in Phoenix, being as impactful as I can, and hopefully, we can chase this ring.”

Beal: “It’s everybody’s – like – we all got to compete, we all got to do this thing together and make it happen. But understand that this is Book Nation. Like, understand that this is his stomping grounds, his arena. And I’m excited for that, I’m excited to be able to play with two Hall of Famers. Like, I’ve never done that. So I’m excited about it, I’m excited what that brings. And they’ll push me in ways I’ve never been pushed. So I’m excited about that and hopefully, I can do the same.” 

Beal: “I see [the Suns' offense and point-guard responsibilities with Booker] as being free-flowing. I don’t think either of us really have a position. Like he can create, he can facilitate, he can shoot the ball, he can score the ball. And I can do the same thing. I think it’s an interchangeable thing and whoever gets it, goes.” 

Booker: “I mean, Brad — I knew it a little bit when I wasn't his teammate, but he has a lot of personality, man…But we don't know that about him. I would say it's not that known. He's always good vibes.”

“To remain that and keep that in the midst of 15, 20 games and getting hurt in your first game back,” Booker said of Beal being “funny” and charismatic, “…going on the road, he's still high-spirited.”

Durant on Beal's 25-point game against the Orlando Magic Jan. 1:  “He’s been in and out of the game, his rhythm has been disrupted because we’re trying to ease him back into the game…

“So his minutes are only going to ramp up. Once he gets comfortable, you’ll see more and more nights like that.”

Durant: “He's been in and out of the game… The more and more he plays, the more confidence we get as a group.”

Vogel: “Bradley Beal is one of the best players in the NBA, and we’re thrilled to have him be a Phoenix Sun with KD and Book. We form a trio of three of the most prolific scorers in the game…these pieces are a great foundation for what we hope can be a championship run for this franchise.”

Vogel: “We want to play with pace. So we’re going to have a multiple ball-handler attack in most possessions. But I love the fact that both Bradley and Devin have played point at phases in their career and can initiate offense, as can KD.” 

Vogel: “Just got to credit him for toughing this out and participating.”

Beal's answers to Booth

Beal on mentoring Booker: “It can only just get better, and that’s kind of scary to say. I’m excited to see that, because I’m going to continue to push him and push him and push him and push him until he can reach that level we know he can tap into, and whatever that is, because he can still be better. He can still grow, he can still improve just like I can, just like everybody can. But I think his sky is unlimited, honestly. And I think he’s just now scratching the surface, and people really waking up and respecting his game and understanding he can carry a team.”

Beal on season with Durant and Booker: Pressure is a crazy word. That’s always like an expectation, other people’s opinion. We have our goals, we know what we want to do. Obviously, everybody has their opinion of us as well. We’re just here to have fun, man, compete at the highest level and try to win a championship. That’s all we want to do.

“We understand it starts with us and we have to make sure we’re available…I’m looking forward to it.”