In the early goings of the 2023-24 NBA season, the Phoenix Suns have failed to live up to the lofty expectations they had going into this season. The good news is that they have plenty of time to change that, and they also possess a superstar in Kevin Durant who is playing as well as he ever has.
They’ve also had some of their role players over-perform expectations for the team, although back-to-back home losses to the San Antonio Spurs set the whole organization back. It is clear head coach Frank Vogel is still trying to figure out his best rotations and lineups, with that fifth starter position seemingly still up for grabs.
It is hard to escape the fact that some of the Suns’ players simply have not been pulling their weight, and it is beginning to show for the group.
Devin Booker has missed time because of both ankle and calf issues so far, but he is certainly exempt from this list. He is the franchise player – and although his absence has been as puzzling as it has been worrying – he will be back soon and once he is, will vault himself right back into the MVP conversation.
There have been three other candidates though who have watched their stock fall considerably, and all for different reasons. Some had sky high expectations and haven’t gotten going, whereas others came in with a modest output predicted, but instead haven’t done anything at all with the Suns so far.
3. Bradley Beal
A terrible place to start, but here we are. Bradley Beal is 30-years-old, is an All-Star level player and has put up over 30 points in two seasons in the past. He is everything the Suns need from a third option, except he is yet to appear at all for the franchise so far this season. A “back tweak” forcing him to sit.
Beal’s stock has fallen then because we haven’t seen him play in the regular season and therefore don’t know how good he will fit on the court with Durant and Booker. There were mild concerns that the knocks Beal had suffered the past with the Washington Wizards could come back to haunt the Suns, but nobody predicted it to happen as quickly as this.
If any player is going to get themselves off this list, and quickly, it is Beal. The Suns have one game remaining on their three game, East coast road trip, and Beal could yet surprise us by suiting up. He looked lively during warmups in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Pistons, and it is clear the organization are being overly cautious.
But it is also fair to point out that the Suns likely wouldn’t be 3-4 had Beal played up to this point, and his importance to coach Vogel’s offensive schemes is obvious. We may look back on the start of this season later in the year and laugh at how worried fans were about this rocky start. Until that happens, Beal finds himself in this unwanted position.