PHOENIX SUNS

James Jones touts Bradley Beal’s balance as Suns’ playoffs begin

Apr 17, 2024, 3:19 PM

Bradley Beal’s injuries limited him to 53 games. Nonetheless, he’s already been identified as an emotional pillar of this version of the Phoenix Suns, and that was never more clear than during the final stretch of the regular season.

Beal played with emotion and tenacity that came out on defense and in loose-ball situations, something that has stood out for a player more well-known for his offensive game.

That offense has blossomed around Beal doing the little things lately as Phoenix (49-33) eyes a first-round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I’ve said multiple times I think Brad’s found his balance and he’s stabilized a little bit,” Suns general manager James Jones told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday. “It’s extremely tough for high-usage, extremely talented players to come in and find that kind of swing role, which is third in usage. Some nights we need you to be number one, some nights we need you to be number five. It’s really, really difficult. As he’s gotten healthier, as he’s gotten stronger and as the season has progressed, he’s found his balance.

“Now he’s just out there playing. With very limited time to get things right at the end of the season, he just got to the point where he said it’s just time. It’s time to play freely and let my teammates follow my lead.”

Beal’s usage in terms of the actual statistic — a percentage of total team plays that a possession ended with that player — has been a steep change from his past. It’s at 22.7% with the Suns, a drop from the 34.1%, 30.8% and 29.2% in his last three years with the Washington Wizards.

The balance to Beal’s game has led to balance with Phoenix’s big three.

Devin Booker (27.9 points per game in April), Kevin Durant (23.1) and Beal (21.0) have picked their spots well in the eight games this month.

Beal is shooting a white-hot 59% overall and 69% from three on 4.5 attempts per game in those eight contests, too.

Jones, for what it’s worth, has no public worries about his team’s construction or play entering the postseason.

“I believe we have everything we need to come out victorious and become champions,” the general manager said. “I always laugh at people’s frustrations when you’re setting high expectations. They’re high for a reason. We’re trying to do the most difficult thing in sport, which is win a championship — especially in the Western Conference where the teams are exceptionally talented.

“We look forward to the challenge. I truly believe if we can stay healthy and our guys can manage the defensive end, offensively we’ll be fine.”

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