In a move that shocked the NBA world earlier this week, the Suns acquired Bradley Beal from the Wizards in a trade. Beal has been a star for quite sometime now, but due to his contract, the Wizards didn’t get as much as one might have thought.
In return, Washington landed Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, and some second-round picks and pick swaps. In all honesty, the Suns didn’t give up much, which the Wizards might not be too unhappy about. Washington, who is currently in a rebuild, badly needed to get rid of his $251 million contract that went into effect last offseason. They did so with this trade, and now Beal is a Sun. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Suns will fare with their new big three.
Analyzing the Bradley Beal Trade
A New Big Three In Phoenix
First of all, at the cost of nearly all their depth, Phoenix has a legitimate big three that can contend for a title. It started with their acquisition of Kevin Durant before the trade deadline last season, pairing Devin Booker and Durant together. In a championship window that began while spearheaded with the combo of just Booker and Paul, some trades have now turned the team around. Depth has been lost, but the Suns also have the most overqualified third star in the league.
In the 2020-21 season, Bradley Beal averaged over 31 points per game. His scoring has leveled off over the past two seasons, but his average of around 23 points a game over the last two years is more than enough for a player who will now be considered the third scoring option on his team.
How Much Will Their Lack of Depth Matter With Bradley Beal?
It was abundantly clear in the playoffs, especially against the Nuggets, that depth was an issue for Phoenix. They struggled mightily when Booker and Durant weren’t on the floor, and the Bradley Beal trade doesn’t help the depth at all.
While there’s plenty of time to move some money around, Phoenix has over $160 million committed to Booker, Durant, Ayton, and Beal alone. That is an astronomically high price. One that puts them well above the luxury tax, and it’s in just four players. At this point, it would be nearly impossible to field an adequate second-unit with their financial situation.
The 2023 season is still a ways away, though. Phoenix might already have some trades worked out elsewhere, and there’s plenty of time to play with some money. However, work definitely needs to be done to build a competent bench unit, which will be necessary to win an NBA title.
What About Defense?
When talking about the unit as a whole, one of the first concerns that comes to mind is how well the Suns’ defense will fare with their new roster.
There wasn’t much defense on the roster originally, which is something that showed during their loss to Denver in the second round. Shamet was a solid defender, and Bradley Beal hasn’t made much of an impact on defense throughout his career. Keeping in mind the lack of defensive prowess from Durant and Booker, there are legitimate reasons for concern here.
Fortunately, Frank Vogel is a defense-oriented coach. DeAndre Ayton has found himself in trade rumors constantly, but if he remains on the team, he’ll be a solid anchor in the paint.
Is This Team Ready to Compete for a Championship?
Ultimately, it depends on how well the bench is filled out during the off-season. For the sake of an argument though, it’s fair to say this team is an instant championship contender.
The defense has question marks, but there’s a solid chance it’s good enough to contend anyway. And with all their scoring power, offense might be their best defense anyways.
Besides Denver, is there a team in the West that is clearly better than this Suns team? It doesn’t appear so at the moment, but only time will tell.
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