The Phoenix Suns have started the 2023-24 season under the cloud of injury, something that was always a possibility when building out a top-heavy roster. What has been unexpected however, has been the fact it is franchise cornerstone Devin Booker who has missed some time.
He has been in and out of the lineup since opening night – firstly with a left ankle issue and now with a calf problem – and although this is not a long-term injury, he could still be a week away from suiting up again. In his absence, Kevin Durant has been doing not MVP things apparently.
The other key injury for the Suns in the early goings of the season has been new addition Bradley Beal, but that will come to an end soon.
The organization have been extremely cautious with a tweak in Beal’s back, and he has not been seen on the court since some limited preseason run. He is going to make his debut soon, most likely in the team’s final road game of their three game East swing against the Chicago Bulls, or Friday night at home to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Whenever Beal does get back out there, we will be one step closer to seeing the Suns at full strength. Durant has held it down, and role players like Grayson Allen and Josh Okogie have excelled, but this is a group that can only go as far as Durant, Booker and Beal take them. Which makes these three goals realistic ones for Beal for the rest of this month when he gets back.
3. Come off a minutes restriction early
It is not yet known if Suns head coach Frank Vogel is going to put Beal on a minutes restriction once he gets the all clear to play. The logical guess to take here is that the team will indeed put those restrictions on Beal, given how cautious they have been with their star summer acquisition to this point.
Beal has played roughly 35 minutes per game in the regular season throughout his career, but that number may be as low as 20 or 25 minutes to begin here. He’s unlikely to come off the bench, but do not be surprised if Allen checks in for Beal after four or five minutes whenever he does return.
Getting out from under any restrictions will be important for both Beal and the Suns, as it will allow coach Vogel to finally game plan with a full deck (assuming Booker is back around the same time), plus it will give Beal the freedom to play his game and bring to this group all of the offensive zest that has been missing so far this season.