Bradley Beal’s Return Will Change Everything For Phoenix Suns’ Championship Run

Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and is inching closer to a return from a back injury that has kept him out for three weeks. The Suns are 12-9 and playing OK without their big three on the floor together, but we are already past the quarter mark of the season. Will the Suns have enough time to build up to a title run?

Good Offense Mediocre Defense

The Suns are 11th in aNET rating, eighth in aORTG and 21st in aDRTG. The latter will need to improving to at least middle of the pack if they want to seriously compete for a title. They’re offense is already really good, Beal will make it even better.

A lineup of Beal, Devin Booker, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant and Jusuf Nurkic will have a lot of spacing and allow for good flow and paint attacks.

But it will take time for the three to work out the inevitable kinks. It takes time when you’re working in elite players. Yes, they all have high basketball IQs, but they still need reps to build chemistry and cohesion.

Durant injured his ankle in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinal game against the Los Angeles Lakers and is out for the Suns’ next game. He’s putting up MVP numbers but he’s logged heavy minutes already this season. At 35 with his lower extremity injury history, the team will need to be careful.

Booker has missed nine of 21 games already this season with various injuries. While it might seem like there is plenty of time, but injury history suggests this team will struggle to have all three on the court together.

Still, head coach Frank Vogel can’t help but be excited about the possibilities after Wednesday’s practice.

“It’s very encouraging,” Vogel said about Beal. “He looked great out there today, a reminder of how dynamic he is as a basketball player.”

Time Is Of The Essence

The Suns’ roster was created to be top heavy and filled out with veteran minimums. Several players have had to play minutes and roles above what they would normally be asked. That could prove beneficial, as it has given players extended minutes, or it could be detrimental, as those players haven’t had the opportunity to settle into their natural roles.

The NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, as most will attest. But in any marathon you learn lessons with every mile marker you hit. You don’t win the race in the first section, but you could lose it with poor performance early on.

The Suns need to get their team healthy to figure out what they are, so general manager James Jones can make any appropriate deals by the February trade deadline. It would be nice to have a 25-game sample beforehand.

There are 30 games between now and the trade deadline, and Durant is already going to miss one and there is no definitive date on Beal’s return. Time is of the essence if this team wants to compete for a title.

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