Coach Vogel confirms two Suns won't play in certain playoff games

The Phoenix Suns look to have their rotation set for the playoffs, but head coach Frank Vogel has already confirmed two players will sit depending on matchup.
Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers
Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers / Harry How/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns have hit the most critical stretch in their regular season, with the potential to finish as high as sixth - and as low as ninth - in the standings depending on how the final two games go. Head coach Frank Vogel has already shown his hand as well, and we know what his playoff rotation will look like.

As expected this means guys like Isaiah Thomas - barring injury or an unexpected blowout win - will be along for the ride on the bench. Although with Grayson Allen's shot not falling nearly as consistently as it has been all season in recent games, the door is perhaps still open for some end of bench players to sneak in and grab some minutes.

But now head coach Frank Vogel has come out and admitted that - as a result of certain matchups - two players won't see the floor for the Suns.

If you've been following this up-and-down Suns season closely, then figuring out who these two players are shouldn't be hard. They both concern the center rotation of the team though, which is not good news for the Suns. They are starting big man Jusuf Nurkic, and his backup Drew Eubanks.

At times this season, both players have been exactly what this organization has needed. Nurkic in particular has exceeded every expectation by not only remaining mostly healthy, but having a positive impact on the court too. His passing, rebounding and unselfishness in doing all of the dirty work exactly what the front office envisioned when they traded for him.

Over 27 minutes a night in 74 games played (all starts), while posting a double-double of 11 points and 11.1 rebounds is a success. Yet when matched up with the likes of Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic or even Chet Holmgren, the limitations of the flat-footed Nurkic become obvious, particularly on the defensive end.

Unfortunately for the Suns - should they make the playoffs proper - they are guaranteed to be facing one of those three players in the first round. Jokic is better than every other big man so there's no shame in that, while Gobert is a multiple time Defensive Player of the Year. Holmgren represents a different kind of problem, as he's too skilled for Nurkic to simply overpower in the paint.

All of which is to say, Nurkic is going to get played off the court, and the fact it could be for several different reasons highlights his limitations. He's been great during the regular season - again the durability alone cannot be talked about enough - but he will be exposed in the playoffs.

It is a similar story with Eubanks, which prompted coach Vogel to bench him altogether recently in favor of Thaddeus Young. That may be a stopgap solution to the backup center minutes in the playoffs, but Young has limitations of his own. In small doses Eubanks plays with more energy than pretty much anybody else on the roster.

Despite being a bit undersized, he has more athletic ability than he is given credit for, and is able to punch it down and also grab boards on the defensive end. Much like Nurkic though, Eubanks can and will be targeted by opponents. He's neither a true rim protector or somebody who can get dragged from the paint and defend at a high level, and elite scorers will switch onto him at will.

Next. 3 Suns who will let them down in the playoffs. 3 Suns who will let them down in the playoffs. dark

This isn't something Suns fans didn't already know deep down though, with the rotation cobbled together never going to be enough to make it all the way to the NBA Finals. Instead the hope was that the trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal could play so well together and blow opponents off the court that it didn't matter.

That hasn't happened, although the idea of playing Durant at center - with Young soaking up some of the Eubanks minutes - is a solution that could yet really work for them. Durant's limited time spent at the five this season had looked like it might be successful. For Nurkic and Eubanks though, it'll be a case of using them only when the coaching staff feel like they can get away with it, not every night.

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