Q&A: Bradley Beal on new 'opportunity' in Phoenix, playing with Kevin Durant

Bradley Beal has helped the Suns climb the Western Conference standings since returning to the lineup on Dec. 27.

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In many ways, Bradley Beal is in a good place and, from a competitive standpoint, certainly better than where he left off last summer.

A basketball career in Phoenix holds more promise than his one in Washington, at least the last few seasons of his 11-year stint with the Wizards. The Suns are fueled by the firepower known as the Super Team, and it's either a championship or a bust.

Beale accepts the position. Playing next to Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, a pair of certified scorers and All-Stars, Beal is eager to see what the immediate future holds for the trio.

That future looks strong, even in the highly competitive Western Conference. Peel missed the first two months of the season before returning after Christmas. Since his first game on Dec. 27, the Suns are 19-7 — the fourth-best mark in the NBA over that span and No. 2 in the Western Conference behind the LA Clippers (18-5).

Overall, Beal and the Suns (33-22) are trending in the right direction and could be a top-four team in the West standings by season's end.

Their fate will ultimately be determined by what happens in the playoffs. Beal, 30, has enjoyed that spot only once in the past five years as Washington's rebuilding program has failed.

A three-time All-Star, he averaged 22 points per game, helped by his ability to get buckets at all three positions. He wants to prove that spring is coming and, if all goes well, in June.

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The following 1-on-1 conversation has been condensed and edited.

NBA.com: What, if anything, do you miss most about playing in Washington?

Bradley Beal: It's a lot. I miss Jim. A fun arena. One of the best meetings in the NBA. The feeling, the bond you have with the people in DC is a special place. I was there for 11 years. It made it difficult to leave. I am blessed. Made an impact on and off the floor. I gave a little love and got a lot of love back. No complaints.

Wizards had some solid years with you and John Wall. Then the injuries hit, mainly to the wall. Then the loss began, followed by rebuilding. How did you deal with it?

Obviously, it was difficult. I did my best. I embrace what I did in DC. No matter the circumstances, good or bad, I accept the challenge. I did my best and controlled the things I could control.

When the Wizards approached you about a trade last summer, was your immediate reaction?

Well, it was strange because it meant the end. Again, I only know one city, one team. It was difficult. Then I saw it as an opportunity and actually a challenge. A new chapter.

Kevin Durant is from Maryland, grew up not far from DC, and when he was a free agent in 2016, the idea was that he might come back home and team up with you and Wall — wrong. He went to the Warriors instead. But now you two are finally teammates. How was it?

Unreal. Surreal. Every day I see someone better at touching a ball. His work ethic, attention to detail, and always wanting to make his teammates better. It's wonderful.

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Sounds like you are a KD fan. What is his most underrated quality?

He motivates his teammates. Unbelievable leader. I think that's the wrong thing about him. As far as that goes, he was amazing from start to finish.

With you, KD and Devin Booker, Ball has a lot of options. How do you navigate it?

Obviously I have to pick my spots to be aggressive, but also understand that we have a lot of guys that can contribute. Go to them and get the ball. As we go through the season, I think we're doing a good job of getting something from everybody and finding shots for everybody. This applies not only to me, but to everyone in the book and KD.

Yeah, you're playing the high point card in Phoenix, right?

In that situation you have to make sure everyone gets a share of the ball. I have to get big dude (Jusuf Nurkic) some touches. We have a versatile team. The great thing about it is that everyone is involved. No selfish game. And that's because of Caddy and Book, they're so selfless. As we go through the season, I think we do a good job of finding shots for everybody.

I didn't come here with a big ego. I wanted to be fit. I mean, we have the book and the caddy. So you should be a good compliment. And they both told me to be myself. It helped. It shows what kind of people they are.

You had to deal with injuries shortly after you arrived and then it was hard on you when you came back. Did it challenge you?

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It starts with me. My game has to be better. I take a lot of responsibility. I need to contribute better in defense. I had to get some rhythm. I think I got it now. So I'm excited for what's to come.

At one point the Suns were up 19-18. How important are the next few months?

We didn't play many games together healthy. So we've got a big second half ahead of us. We have to stretch here because after the break and before you know it, we're in the playoffs. I know I have to play better. I can play better to get this team to where we think it should be – my game, my change of pace, not turning the ball over.

What would it be like to win a championship?

Crazy. I think it can happen. It's good to know you have a chance. It will keep you motivated. Obviously that would be a nightmare.

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Shawn Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can email him here, find his archive here and Follow him on X.

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