Speaking on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ this week, Stephen A. Smith called out the newest Suns star, Bradley Beal, over what he called a “concerning” new trend. Beal, who has yet to make his season debut, was ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Spurs with a mysterious back injury.
“I’m a big Bradley Beal fan, but since 2019, he’s missed about 105 of the last 312 games. He missed about 32 games last year, he only played 90 games, and now they talking about back injuries and they don’t know when he’ll be back,” said Smith. “I’m starting to get really, really concerned. I need to see this guy on the court.
Despite being only 30 years old, Beal hasn’t had a season where he played more than 60 games since 2019 when he was voted an All-Star for the Wizards. In Phoenix, Beal was thought to be ready for his debut, but constant setbacks have delayed his progress and the exact timetable for his return remains a mystery.
Suns Facing Major Questions
New owner/governor Mat Ishbia has gone out of his way to position his team for a title and they are all out of excuses in the 203-24 season. With Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, they were already a formidable team. And when the Suns added Bradley Beal this summer, it only enhanced their chances for the title. Even so, health remains a major obstacle for this ambitious squad and Beal is just the start. Dating back to his final days with the Warriors (where he tore his Achilles tendon), Kevin Durant has struggled to stay on the court for long stretches of time, and at 35 years old it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong. Meanwhile, Booker should be back on the court soon after suffering what the Suns are calling a left ankle sprain.
Even if their guys are healthy, it remains to be seen if Phoenix has enough to keep up with teams like the Nuggets, Lakers, and Warriors in the West. As top-heavy as they are, the Suns don’t have the same depth as their competitors and it’s why Bradley Beal is so important to their success this season.
Uncharted Waters For Bradley Beal
In Washington, Bradley Beal wasn’t often called out by the media because expectations were still so low. During his rise to stardom with the Wizards, Beal blossomed as an individual scorer but never achieved success leading a team in the postseason. With the Suns, that’s expected to change. Alongside Durant and Booker, Beal will see opportunities he never has before and the floor will open up for him in new and exciting ways.
Of course, Beal’s new conditions also come with new expectations and it means that the world will hold him accountable if he falls short. As the third man in Phoenix, it may take time for him to find his rhythm but it could be time he doesn’t have. For Beal, he cannot afford to keep missing time like he has in years past. The Suns need continuity now more than ever, and they need their core guys to to on the floor as much as possible leading up to the playoffs.