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Brad Beal has brought more than stability, he’s brought joyful basketball back to Phoenix

It’s been a while since we’ve seen fun basketball in Phoenix.

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns roster is filled with serious hoopers. Kevin Durant has a reputation for being 100% about ball, and Devin Booker‘s similar mindset is what attracted the 13-time All-Star to Phoenix. This is a serious basketball team that is focused on their game and the art of basketball.

Throw into the mix players like Jusuf Nurkic and Eric Gordon, and the Suns are a stoic team that does not display much emotion. Suns’ broadcaster Eddie Johnson noted this during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Nurkic could have a physical slam dunk and you would never be able to tell. Eric Gordon Could snipe a clutch three-pointer and his demeanor stays the same.

The Suns are a team of Ricky Rubio’s, if you will, never too high and never too low. And that’s fine. That’s who they are as a team. They’re serious about the sport that they play and the profession in which they are in. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what you want. You’d rather have a team full of serious professionals than a gang of goofballs who don’t produce. But remember when Phoenix Suns basketball used to be fun?

When the Suns traded for Kevin Durant in February 2023, they obtained an all-time player, someone serious about their craft, and an elite basketball player. What they shipped out in the deal, amongst draft picks until two presidencies from now, were Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder.

They shipped out was the personality of the basketball team.

Personality isn’t the end all be all. If it equates to wins, who cares how it’s done, right? Still, gone are the days of pregame dances, silly reactions to three-point shots made, and the joking around that creates a cohesive unit.

Have you ever worked with somebody who’s a little too serious? The Dwight Shrute’s of the world? Sure. They get their job done. You can rely on them. They care about the work they do and the manner in which they do it. You need a Jim Halbert, however, to create levity. It’s okay to be serious but to have a little goofiness to you as well. It eases the tension.

This past off-season the Phoenix Suns sent one of their serious basketball players in Chris Paul to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Bradley Beal. The Beal experiment has had varying results as his health has been an issue since arriving in the Valley. Lower back tightness. A sprained right ankle. Beal hasn’t had a chance to garner any rhythm with Phoenix.

Until now.

Beal is played in the last three games for Phoenix and we are already seeing his impact on the team.

“Bradley Beal changed everything,” teammate Jusuf Nurkic said. “For our group, people don’t understand. Having a guard like that who can score, the scouting report that people have to prepare for. When he’s out there, it doesn’t matter what he do[es], just being out there makes a big difference.”

He might not be scoring at the same clip that he did while with the Wizards, but he hasn’t had to. He is truly a spoke-in-the-wheel, a member of a team, who is not solely relied upon and responsible for all of the scoring.

One of the intangibles he possesses, and which we are learning as we watch him perform, is the joy with which he plays. He plays with that goofiness we lost 11 months ago. He is “meme-able”. And it’s fun to watch.

Again, “fun” isn’t a defining characteristic of success for a team. Winning is. But the Phoenix Suns this season have been a little too serious, and when you couple it with mediocre results, you land your ship on Frustration Island.

Beal is not only producing on the court, but he’s having fun doing so. Driving to the hoop without any resistance? He’ll shrug his shoulders to stick his tongue out. Throw down a highlight slam dunk over two defenders? He’s going to stand on the sideline and smack his head. Hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the half? He’s going to do a little cha-cha dance.

It’s wonderful to see and entertaining to watch. It feels as if the Suns possess some personality once again.

Ultimately, wins are what matters. But who says you can’t have a little fun along the way?

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