The Phoenix Suns are two-thirds of the way through a three-game Western Conference road trip that has so far brought with it mixed results. Their time in Los Angeles to face both teams from their a tale of two halves, as the L.A. Clippers exposed all that is wrong with this Suns roster.
They were completely outscored by a superior offensive opponent - they ended up losing the game 138-111 on the night - and were forced to bench center Jusuf Nurkic in the fourth-quarter. This was a worrying loss, because the Suns had Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal on the court, but were outclassed by an organization with just as much starpower.
Then came the win over the Los Angeles Lakers - the first time in their fourth meeting so far this season that the Suns had beaten LeBron James and company - and all was right with the world again. Beal had his best game in a Suns jersey, Booker was on fire, and Durant looked comfortable picking his spots throughout. They even survived a poor shooting night from Grayson Allen.
With both of these contests in mind as the Suns reach the midseason mark, do they actually need a traditional point guard for the remainder of the season?
If you were to look at the Lakers game in a vacuum, then the answer would be a resounding no. Beal took on a lot of ball-handlinf duties - more even than most expected - which allowed Booker to cut loose to the tune of 31 points. Combine that with Beal's season-high 37 on a scorching eight makes from deep, and this team have more pressing needs than a floor general.
John Wall was courtside for the game - and he has spoken earlier in the season about how much he'd like to join Beal on the Suns - but on a night like that win over the Lakers, he simply would have gotten in the way. As impressive as this win was however, and they did hang 127 points on a team with Anthony Davis manning the paint, not every matchup is going to go like this.
Taking it back to the previous beatdown by the Clippers, and the Suns absolutely could have done with another backcourt option in order to try and get back into that game. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are able to do as good a job as any duo in the league of keeping Booker and Beal quiet, and it felt like both of them could have done with the ball in their hands less to create.
If the Suns had a T.J. McConnell or Tyus Jones type out there with them, they would have had space and freedom to find Booker and Beal, not to mention Durant as well. It is matchups like this where the opponent also has a lot of weapons to both score and slow down the Suns, where the need for a point guard is most evident.
Luckily for the Suns there are few franchises out there like the Clippers right now. But on the other hand, even if they wanted to trade for a floor general, it is unlikely they would be able to get one to the standard required when trying to win a championship. Nice as it would be to add McConnell or Jones, the Suns don't have the assets to outbid other teams. Which may explain this.
The Suns don't believe they need another point guard, in part because they can't afford to add another point guard. Or at least, not one to the level required for this group. Wall is sitting there and would jump at the opportunity to join this group, but then the question becomes who would the organization cut to make that happen.
Then there is Jordan Goodwin, the backup guard on this team who is certainly capable of helping on the defensive end. We generally haven't seen him in lineups with both Booker and Durant this season, never mind with Beal since returning from injury. He does sometimes play with Booker, so as to move him back to his more traditional scoring role.
But it is telling that in the last two games, Goodwin has played five minutes on both occasions. Against the Lakers you can understand this, the Suns were cooking with what they had out there. Yet against the Clippers, with head coach Frank Vogel searching for a solution, he didn't think Goodwin could help any more than he did in a big win over the Lakers.
Even more worrying for Goodwin, coach Vogel used no fewer than 14 players in the victory versus the Lakers. He had the luxury of doing this, with everybody getting some run on the night. Goodwin didn't see any more time though - and if ever the Suns were going to see what he could do next to even Beal on his own in the backcourt - it was that game.
This isn't an easy question to answer then - but for now at least - the answer is the Suns don't need a point guard. Both because on nights when Booker and Beal have it, and that should happen often, it is not necessary. But also because the reality is this team can't go out and get another one without giving up an important player such as Allen or Eric Gordon.
There will come a time again this season though, where an opponent with plenty of elite players will again expose the lack of depth at this position. It may even come in the playoffs, where it is hard to see how not having another backcourt option when the going gets touch will see the Suns past the Clippers, Denver Nuggets, or even Boston Celtics.