The Phoenix Suns are currently rolling through their preseason slate like a franchise that are starting to see all of the pieces fit together. Their trio of superstars are healthy ahead of the new season, and even center Jusuf Nurkic has surpassed early expectations.
His beatdown of former Suns’ first overall pick Deandre Ayton in one half of preseason basketball enough to quell the concerns of some fans. You don’t win a championship at this stage of the season, but as the old adage goes, you can certainly lose it.
Which is why the Suns should be wary of these three nightmare scenarios unfolding at some point during this coming season.
These three disasters aren’t simply pointing out that Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal have to stay healthy as well. That is obvious – and if one of them is gone for an extended period of time – then of course the organization is going to struggle to win as many games as some predict that they will.
Head coach Frank Vogel remains exempt from this list too, both because he has started his tenure with the Suns well, and because his failure to get the best out of this group is again an obvious reason for concern. These scenarios run deeper than that, with a lot riding on the franchise coming out on the right side of these potential developments.
3. Jusuf Nurkic becomes the wrong choice
There is no doubt Ayton had to leave the Suns, and the front office did an excellent job in moving him before media day. The deals out there in exchange for him weren’t as good as Suns’ fans would like to believe they were, because all fanbases tend to value their players above others.
Despite this, Nurkic is still by far the biggest variable this group has. If he’s healthy, and if he’s making a difference on the offensive end like we’ve seen in tiny flashes so far, then this trade could lead the Suns to a championship. Even better if coach Vogel can get the best out of Nurkic defensively to go with his offensive influence.
But if Nurkic is injured (he has played at most 52 games since before Covid), and misses a substantial amount of time, the whole team is going to suffer. Worse still, if Nurkic can stay on the court but is then played off it by elite opponents, the Suns won’t have a counter-move to make outside of starting Durant at the five. That is not a long-term solution.