3 ways the Phoenix Suns have adapted without Devin Booker

Devin Booker has missed the last few games for the Phoenix Suns through injury, but they have adapted to his absence in three key ways.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages
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The Phoenix Suns continue to battle for positioning in the Western Conference down the stretch of the regular season, and they have had to do so recently without Devin Booker. Their superstar guard still missing after rolling an ankle late in a loss to the Houston Rockets.

Losing Booker for any stretch of the season was always going to hurt, yet the Suns have done an admirable job in his absence of trying to remain competitive. Having Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal on your team certainly helps, although center Jusuf Nurkic was just as important in the recent win over the Denver Nuggets.

With Booker's return still unknown, the Suns have started to adapt to playing without him, and we are beginning to see the results.

It is a credit to head coach Frank Vogel that each of these observations have mostly been a positive as well. Perhaps not what the Suns would do in an ideal world - but being able to survive and excel in other areas without a guy who puts up nearly 30 per game - is no mean feat.

The hope will be that the team can get Booker back out there as soon as possible. They have the toughest remaining schedule of any franchise in the league, and are not yet safe from being dragged into a play-in tournament dog fight. But until that happens, more of the below from the group will see the Suns remain competitive.

3. Jusuf Nurkic as point guard

That headline might be misleading, but it is fair to point out that Nurkic has handled the ball a lot more with Booker gone, and the results have not been bad. Against the Nuggets in particular, he sometimes brought the ball up and was generally the player who the guy out of bounds passed to in order to begin a possession too.

That might not seem like much, but what was a lot more impressive was a pass he had in the second-quarter to a cutting Durant for an and-one play. The idea of Nurkic with this starting group was always supposed to be a guy who could pass out of the paint, screen and move, and generally fill in the blanks offensively.

That he able to do that, but also shoulder a bit more of the creative load, is a massive an unexpected help with Booker currently out of the picture. Make no mistake, you wouldn't want Nurkic doing this in a playoff game for many possessions and he's still limited in what he can do. Having Durant and Bradley Beal as release valves if it all goes wrong is also a luxury.

But there are shades of Nikola Vucevic with the Orlando Magic to Nurkic in his role right now. Vucevic was a two-time All-Star and worlds better offensively with his shot-making and two-man game with their guards. But Nurkic is heavily involved and on some possessions since Booker went down, has his four teammates revolving around his movements. A nice wrinkle to see late in the season.