Five keys for the Phoenix Suns down the season’s final stretch

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(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watches from the bench
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If KD gets comfortable, Ayton keeps producing, and a fifth starter emerges, the Suns will be well on their way to being prepared for the playoffs. However, there are still two more keys for these final 22 games that will either have the Suns ready for a big postseason run or talking about what might have been.

Suns stretch run Key 4 – Where’s the bench?

The common thinking is that with Jae Crowder heading east along with Bridges and Johnson in the trade for Durant, Phoenix lost some depth. However, Warren came with KD, and Crowder never played, so the Suns still sit in the same position numbers-wise. However, Phoenix did give up two starters and only got one in return, even if that one was KD.

So after a non-starter becomes a starter, the bench is in some ways thinner, and Williams will need to work on this.

While Okogie could be an excellent sixth man if Craig starts, the same may not be true in reverse, given Craig does not attack the basket with the same vigor as Josh. On the other hand, players like Ross, Lee, and Warren are in the league because of their scoring, and in theory, any of them could be the first guy off the bench.

The Suns have these four possibilities, just for the wing position. Cam Payne is supposed to be coming back, and so is Landry Shamet; where do they fit along with Sabian Lee in the backcourt rotation?

The frontcourt is not as crowded, but the benches will shrink as the starter’s minutes grow in the postseason. This means whoever gets the call has to make the intended impact. Williams will have his hands full figuring out this rotation, but he must be right come playoff time.

Suns stretch run Key 5 – Who is available tonight for Phoenix?

Health may be Phoenix’s biggest obstacle or potential challenge in a run to the finals. This season has been difficult, with significant players missing significant games, and the results have been a drop in the standings but maybe some more experience on the bench. However, this is the regular season.

Come playoff time, the Suns have to be healthy to have any chance of winning, and this means the big four have to be available throughout the rest of the season and through June and the finals. Given Durant and Paul’s age and injury histories, this is a tall task. Likewise, Ayton and Booker have had their share of knocks.

If Phoenix can find a way to get all four healthy and they stay healthy, we might finally be celebrating an NBA title. However, the reality is all those other pieces, KD fitting in, a fifth start, a bench rotation, only matter if the big four are healthy. So let’s hope for the best health possible and stretch run to remember for Phoenix.

dark. Next. Next step or false dawn for Ayton?