Suns’ Big Three

Suns’ Big Three

When the Suns traded for Bradley Beal six months ago, they knew they were taking a not insignificant risk. After all, he had missed a whopping 131 games over the last four years due to a cacophony of ailments. That said, they felt they needed to make a splash in the offseason to shore up their title hopes; not wanting to waste what remained of the peak years of future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant, they figured the potential upside was worth the gamble. And so they forged ahead and acquired their third marquee name even at the expense of roster depth.

The Suns went on to make more moves, and when the smoke cleared, they had all but changed the cast of characters surrounding Durant and Devin Booker. Under new head coach Frank Vogel, they believed they were set to improve on their conference semifinals showing in the last two postseasons. And, on surface, they weren’t wrong to go all in. Considering the otherworldly skill sets of their acknowledged leaders, they understood that anything less than a deep playoff run would be deemed a success.

Unfortunately, luck would not be with the Suns for the remainder of the year. Beal needed two weeks to convalesce from a back injury, and just three games to be sidelined anew. It would then take him another month to before he could trek to the court, and, once again, a mere three games to be forced out of it. This time around, a right ankle sprain felled him, and he will be reevaluated in the first week of the new year. Meanwhile, the purple and orange have been middling at best despite sterling numbers from Durant, scoring at a clip not seen in a decade.

Certainly, it hasn’t helped that Booker likewise missed nine of 29 outings to date, and that the Suns won just three matches in his absence. No one wants to lose, but setbacks become more pronounced in the face of heightened expectations. Which was why no eyebrows were raised when frustration set in following their futile effort against the rival Mavericks on Christmas Day. Their supposed Big Two managed a relatively paltry 36 even as Luka Doncic put up a whopping half century at Footprint Center.

If there’s any silver lining, it’s that there remains ample time for the Suns to do better. And though they may provisionally be 11th in West standings, only three and a half games separate them from the fourth-place Clippers. In other words, any improvement on their part will translate to major gains. Then again, their ultimate objective requires them to address systemic infirmities. Whether or not they can do so with Beal —  and, to a lesser extent, Booker and Durant — sporting brittle bodies and those around them unable to pick up the slack is anybody’s guess.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.