We’re 22 games into the Phoenix Suns 2023-2024 regular season. Sitting at 12-10, there are a lot of ways to describe the team so far, roughly 27% into their season. Rewarding, frustrating, tedious, academic, and validating, all can be used to depict the start of the season, but one adjective that shouldn’t be used is satisfying.
Missed games from Devin Booker and Bradley Beal play a significant part in this. We still have not seen Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant all play at the same time, leaving reason for hope and fear simultaneously.
With his recent injury history, Beal’s missed time is unfortunately not a shocking development. Since he played 82 games in the 2018-2019 campaign, Beal has missed almost one and a half season’s worth of games, 120.
The Suns have been abundantly cautious with Beal’s back problems, and with his return looming, fans should be cautiously optimistic. However, because of the health resumes of the Suns’ big three, while not as bad as the Clippers, it is not great.
When trading for Kevin Durant, Phoenix not only gave up depth but also durability. Chris Paul isn’t incredibly durable at his age, so trading for Beal did not hamper that problem but it certainly didn’t help it. Matter of fact, Paul has played more games than Beal has in the last five seasons by a significant margin, 63 games.
This is just reality for the Suns, champions usually never have a true reason to be satisfied unless they win. There are most surely times when both Boston and Milwaukee wish they had another rotation player or two. It’s rare for teams like the Nuggets to be title contenders and have legitimately little to worry about outside of execution.
The Sun's NBA Finals run in 2021 isn’t usually how teams make it to the last round. Going deep into the salary cap, giving up an abundance of draft picks, and thin rotations are what many teams have to do to successfully reach great heights.
Being in the second apron, having limited trade assets, and risky roster construction, whether it be from a health or a cohesion standpoint, are traits of teams pursuing a title, exactly the type of stuff that the Suns deal with. Fortunately for the Suns, no matter the status of Beal or the rest of the team, as long as Durant and Booker are healthy, they stand a chance in any game against any team.
Bradley Beal’s looming return is a good thing for the Suns, but the continuous fear and trepidation about depth and health doesn’t stop until the season ends, whenever that may be. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is the reality for the foreseeable future.