Technically, Bradley Beal doesn’t exist. If you visit the Phoenix Suns’ Basketball-Reference page, you will see that he is rostered with the team. Next to his name, however, you will find that it is without a number.
The reason? He has yet to officially play a game with the Suns and Basketball-Reference does not count you until you check into a game. Both he a Damion Lee, who is out following a meniscus injury, have yet to step onto the hardwood for Phoenix during the regular season.
Hopefully, that will change soon.
Bradley Beal, who played for the Washington Wizards for 11 years, was traded to Phoenix during the offseason. The three-time All-Star brings with him an offensive skillset that will not only release offensive pressure from his teammates, it can come from all three levels. He averaged 22.1 points in his career, peaking in 2020-21 with 31.3 points per game.
The challenge Beal has faced in recent years isn’t his ability, it is his availability. In his last two seasons, he has played in 90 of the team’s 164 games, which is 55%. A knee. A foot. A hamstring. A thigh. A wrist. A hip. Practically every part of Bradley Beal has ached enough for him to miss time.
Add to that list a back.
Beal has yet to suit up for Phoenix due to stiffness in his back, missing the first 7 games of his Phoenix Suns debut in the process. Every time we are led to believe by head coach Frank Vogel he is getting close, a setback occurs. Part of the lesson learned here is that Vogel rarely tips his hand relative to availability.
We witnessed in the preseason how effective Beal can be. In two games, averaging 32 minutes played, Beal scored 22 points, shot 50% from three, and had 5 assists, including this memorable dime to Chimezie Metu.
Alas, we’ve yet to see Beal since and the team has gone 3-4 with him out of the lineup. The team has to learn how to operate without him, and for a team with 13 new faces, it hasn’t been ideal. Chemistry and continuity have sputtered.
The back is a tricky area of the body to ache, and it is understandable as to why Beal, along with the organization, is taking their time with him. You feel your back with every movement and if you are being asked to perform at a high level in the greatest basketball league on this planet, stress on it will occur. Safety first.
The wait to see Beal may be coming to an end, however. The Athletic’s Shams Charania stated today on FanDuel.TV that, “I’m told there is optimism that he [Beal] makes his debut on Wednesday in Chicago or on Friday against the Lakers.”
"Look for the next 7 to 10 days to finally be the point where these three guys finally get back on the court." @ShamsCharania on Devin Booker and Bradley Beal's injuries.— Run It Back (@RunItBackFDTV) November 6, 2023
: https://t.co/qYBPWhYgh7 pic.twitter.com/SjrLWnSqcV
The addition to the starting lineup would not only be a step towards seeing this team at full strength — time will tell as to when we’ll see Booker following reports that he now has a calf strain — but it would relieve some of the scoring responsibilities that have fallen on the shoulders of Kevin Durant. Through 7 games, KD has scored 209 of the Suns’ 784 points. That is 27% of the team’s scoring.
Having a consistent secondary scorer next to him will certainly help.
Now, again, we wait. We wait to see if Beal’s back responds to the travel and if the Windy City is where he will make his debut. A midwest guy from St. Louis, it would only be fitting for him to do so.