Crucial Suns role player picks up knock at worst possible time

The Phoenix Suns need all hands on deck to try and make the playoffs, but the newly questionable status of one of their key role players is a concern.

Atlanta Hawks v Phoenix Suns
Atlanta Hawks v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

It would be a stretch to say the Phoenix Suns have been cursed this season, but at times it has felt like certain situations have not broken their way. The inability of Bradley Beal to stay on the court earlier in the season was one such example, while Devin Booker missed a couple of games here and there at what felt like the wrong time.

The Suns can't blame outside forces for their current standing in the Western Conference though, as the combination of Booker, Kevin Durant and some of the role players who have stepped up this season should be more than enough to not be in a play-in battle. Looking at last summer's business with rose-tinted glasses is not the solution here either.

This team needs a healthy roster to try and make the playoffs, but the latest injury report is not what the organization will have wanted to see.

That's because Grayson Allen - who leads the league in 3-point shooting percentage at 46.9 percent this season - has been listed as questionable for the Suns' next game. A must-win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Looking at this optimistically, and there's still reason to believe Allen might play the game.

He has missed only six games all season, and has started every game he has played for the franchise despite being seen as more of a sixth man when he joined as part of the Deandre Ayton for Jusuf Nurkic trade last summer. Beal's injury woes early in the season opened the door for Allen - as did some disappointing play by other new recruits - and Allen took his opportunity.

But if Allen does decide to give it a go, he risks making the injury worse ahead of what could well be a play-in battle to make the postseason proper. Allen having such an important role with this group wasn't part of the plan - and it has certainly been a nice development for the team - but the prospect of him missing at the worst possible moment and when his importance is so great is a real concern.

The reason Allen is listed as questionable? Left hip soreness which again, thankfully is not an injury of huge concern. Trying to rush back from an ankle sprain or any kind of aggravation of the knee would be much worse news for the Suns to receive. Especially as they have the hardest remaining schedule left to play in the league.

But Allen is at his best for this group when he is moving without the ball, popping up on the weak side of the court after some creation by one of the Suns' three star players. Allen's movement and scoring from deep threat represents a release valve when the team can't get into their usual sets, not to mention the fact Allen's number is often called and is the intended end product of a play as well.

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Allen has also become an underrated defender for the Suns, and his athleticism is definitely slept on at this point by those who see him as a 3-point marksman and nothing else. It would not be a stretch this season to say that he is one of the best "3-and-D" players in the league, and he has surpassed every expectation the Suns had for him.

The organization are going to struggle to hold onto him - but most importantly for the here and now - the prospect of him missing for key matchups to close out the regular season is a hammer blow to the team. They're not at his best if he is not making shots from deep and staying in front of elite scorers, and the hope is that this hip issue does not linger for too long.