The depth of the Suns took another huge hit on Friday. ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Marc J. Spears reported that backup center Alan Williams suffered a partially torn meniscus while landing on a teammate during a workout.
After a career year and earning a new contract — 3-years, $17 million, with only the first year fully guaranteed — this is a massive blow to Phoenix’s plans for the second unit. Adding Williams to the litany of injuries already on the roster (Brandon Knight - ACL, Davon Reed - meniscus, Jared Dudley - toe), shows how depleted this roster could be at the beginning of the year. And with Reed’s original timeline of 4-6 months on his own meniscus injury, I would not expect Williams back in game action until February, maybe earlier depending on the severity of the tear itself.
As general manager Ryan McDonough mentioned after re-signing Williams, his synergy with Tyler Ulis and others in the second unit stood out which led to them bringing him back and, in turn, choosing to commit to Big Sauce over a former top-five pick in Alex Len at season’s end.
After Williams’ injury, where will the Suns turn for minutes? At this point in time, there are really only two realistic options: Dragan Bender and Len. Bender, who’s scheme versatile enough to play at the four or five, could flip to center while a forward with shooting prowess like Dudley or Alec Peters at power forward. Remember, Bender has been working out with the team all summer outside of his EuroBasket tourney play with Croatia compared to Len who hasn’t been able to since July 1.
Either way, missing the energy and elite rebounding off the bench that Williams was able to provide will rear its head until he returns to full strength. Phoenix will have to rely on two of its three top-five picks since McDonough took over, Len and Bender, to pick up the slack and prove each has taken steps in their developments in a season built around individual progressions.
Williams is scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday.