The new collective bargaining agreement between the NBA Players’ Association and owners will kick in on July 1 and one provision is a heavier tax on “superteams” – essentially, the league doesn’t want another Kevin Durant to the Warriors situation by making it too expensive from a luxury tax perspective for a club to afford more than two stars. At least that was the idea, but the Phoenix Suns now have added three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal to Kevin Durant and Devin Booker in the first major trade of the offseason. The Suns have improved NBA odds from +700 to +550 to win the 2024 NBA title.
NBA Betting News: Suns Form New Superteam With Acquisition Of Bradley Beal
The Suns will get Beal for a package expected to include Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, several second-round picks and a picks swap. Not all that long ago, it had been reported the Suns were ready to cut Paul but obviously better to get something for him. The Wizards would turn around and trade Paul to another team as they are rebuilding and he doesn’t fit in DC.
Paul’s career in the desert comes to an end following three seasons that included two All-Star appearances. He averaged 15.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 9.5 assists across 32.1 minutes per game. He shot 48% from the field and 36.6% from long range.
Beal has struggled a bit the past two seasons, both with injuries and inconsistent play, but he’s just a few years removed from averaging 31.3 points, he scores at all three levels and has grown into a solid playmaker. The three-time All-Star has spent his entire 10-year NBA career in Washington. Selected third overall by the Wizards in the 2012 Draft, the 29-year-old guard has averaged 23.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in his 10 seasons with the team.
This past season, he shot at a career-best .506 clip from the floor and reached 15,000 total points for his career, joining Elvin Hayes (15,551) as the only players in franchise history to do so. Beal finished the 2022-23 campaign as one of only two guards in the NBA to shoot at least .500 from the field and .350 from three-point range (min. 550 FGA).
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Beal, Durant and Booker all rank among the NBA’s top 20 active players in career points per game, out of 230 players with at least 250 games played. Maybe the Suns didn’t need Beal. You could argue the last thing the Suns needed was more offense with Booker and Durant already in position. But make no mistake, Beal is the best player the Suns could have acquired this offseason.
When looking at the NBA’s leaders in points per game across the last five seasons combined, Durant (27.8 PPG) is sixth, Beal is ninth (27.0 PPG) and Booker is 10th (26.6 PPG). The next-closest group of three that are teammates at the moment is in New Orleans, where Zion Williamson (12th, 25.8 PPG), Brandon Ingram (23rd, 22.7 PPG) and C.J. McCollum (28th, 21.8 PPG) are. Looking at the same five-year timeframe, the Suns have three guys in the top 16 for free throw attempts per game as well. To that point, Beal critically gives the Suns another player that generates rim pressure. He’s attempted at least 29% of his shots at the rim each of the last five seasons.
The arrival of Beal and the $207 million left on his contract projects the Suns to be a second-apron team from a luxury tax perspective for at least the next three years, which will leave them largely reliant on minimum contracts to fill out the roster. What matters most is for the franchise to support Beal, Booker, and Durant with players who can effectively space the floor on offense and defend opponents’ best players. This past postseason, Torrey Craig and Josh Okogie were ignored by the Nuggets’ defense in the second round.
The Suns will be different this coming season as Frank Vogel is succeeding the fired Monty Williams (who is now in Detroit) as coach, Paul will no longer be the starting point guard who is still searching for his first championship, and Durant and Booker will have a training camp together for the first time. The lack of depth behind the team’s core is undoubtedly concerning. It proved to be the Suns’ undoing in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. But if their stars can stay healthy, this is easily one of the most formidable teams in the league.
The 2023-24 NBA schedule should be released in August. How about Suns at Nuggets in the marquee Opening Night matchup?
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