Why Devin Booker's injury is a disaster for the Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns are going to be missing Devin Booker for some time with an ankle injury, and it is a complete disaster for the franchise.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

It's no secret, the Phoenix Suns have been plagued with the injury bug this season. Despite major championship aspirations with their superstar trio, the team is sitting sixth in the Western Conference with a 35-26 record after 61 games.

The trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal have also only played in 23 games together. This means that the Suns have been without their best players on the court together for 38 games.

The Suns received another blow during their loss on March 2nd to the Houston Rockets, with Booker being sent to the locker room and not returning to the game after a collision with team mate Royce O'Neale. The superstar guard is set to miss at least seven to ten days with a right ankle sprain, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Despite a history making performance from Jusuf Nurkic in the first game without Devin Booker, the Suns fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their most recent outing.

With his injury timeline set, Booker is poised to miss a crucial string of games for the Suns as they fight to keep out of the Play-In and qualify for the playoffs.

Booker will miss clashes against top teams, including a clash with the defending champions the Denver Nuggets, two clashes with the Boston Celtics (who hold the best record in the league), the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors. None of those games would be easy for the Suns with a full roster, and they certainly will become more challening with missing their star player.

While Kevin Durant has been performing well for the Suns this season, Booker has been the number one option for the team and the primary ball handler. Booker has averaged 27.5 points per game and 6.8 assists, leading his team in assists and only being behind Durant in points by a slim margin.

Booker's impact on this Phoenix team can not be understated, and in a tight Western Conference playoffs race every game counts. Missing five games against a number of contending teams will not help the Suns' chances of avoiding a Play-In spot. The team currently sits 6th in the West, one spot out of the Play-In seeding.

The Sacramento Kings only sit 0.5 games back from Phoenix in 7th, with the Dallas Mavericks a game behind the Suns. The Lakers and Warriors are also not far behind, with the Lakers sitting 2 games behind Phoenix in 9th and the Warriors sitting 2.5 games behind in 10th.

Losing crucial games and the teams behind them capitalizing and winning could see the Suns drop to as low as 10th, meaning they would have to win two knockout games to qualify and make it into the Playoffs as the eight seed.

While the Play-In is no easy feat, potentially competing against the likes of LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic in knockout games makes it even more difficult to fight for a spot in the postseason.

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Players such as Beal, Nurkic and Durant will stand up to try and replace the production left behind from Booker, however the Suns will be hoping he recovers sooner rather than later.

A week on the sidelines could be the difference between Phoenix qualifying with a favorable post season match up, or having to battle their way through some superstar competition in the Play-In tournament.