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The Suns’ Toughest Opponent Won’t Be On The Court This Year

The Phoenix Suns are one of the most talented teams in the league. They will have a target on their back each night. They will have to deal with the likes of Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, among others. Even with all of the talent that they will have to play against. The Suns’ toughest opponent won’t be on the court this season. Their toughest opponent will be the “injury bug”.

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The Suns projected locked in starters are Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Jusuf Nurkic. Last season Beal missed 32 games. Booker missed 29 games, Durant missed 35 games, and Nurkic missed 30 games. The amount of missed games may be what hurts the Suns the most this season. Is this a trend that will continue with these starters?

Bradley Beal

In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons Beal played all 82 games. In the seasons that followed, he has played 57, 60, 40, and 50 games. The last four seasons have seen, Beal deal with shoulder, knee, foot, hip, back, hamstring, wrist and thigh injuries. He also has missed some games for personal reasons and being in health and safety protocols.

Beal has recently turned 30 years of age and has been in the league for 11 years. There are a lot of miles on those legs. 24,091 minutes of regular season play on those legs to be exact. The workload from earlier in his career may have led to the knee, foot, hip, and hamstring issues. The Suns have to hope that Beal doesn’t miss lots of time during the regular season and also is ready to go for the playoffs.

Devin Booker

Booker has been mostly durable during his career playing an average of 66 games per season. Booker only played 53 games last season as he dealt with groin and hamstring injuries. That’s the part that is scary for Booker. Most of his injuries have been soft tissue issues. These are the type of injuries that tend to linger.

The good thing is that Booker is still young. He will be 27 years old on October 30th. The amount of missed games for Booker should not increase going forward. If he does have any hamstring or groin pulls during the season then the Suns may have something to be concerned about.

Kevin Durant

Durant missed the entire 2019-20 season as he recovered from a torn achilles tendon that happened in the 2019 NBA Finals. Durant has averaged 44 games per season in three years since. He has dealt with a pulled hamstring, MCL sprains in each knee, and a sprained ankle in the years after the torn achilles.

The scary thing about Durant and these injuries is that he will be 35 years old on tomorrow. He has already played 36,181 minutes in the regular season during his career. The former Texas Longhorn has already played more minutes than retired players like Dwyane Wade, Grant Hill, and Zach Randolph. All of those players had very long careers.

Durant’s legs have truly been through a lot. Will he be able to hold up through this season? Only time will tell but its definitely a valid concern.

Jusuf Nurkic

One of the newest members of the Suns is Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic has had his issues with injuries as well. On March 25,2019 Nurkic broke his leg which caused him to miss not only the rest of that season but most of the next year. He only played eight games in the 2019-20 season. In the last three seasons Nurkic has played in an average of 48 games per year.

The long time Portland Trailblazer recently turned 29 years old. So he should be in his physical prime but seems to be on a decline since the broken leg. The Suns have to hope that the calf, quad, knee, and abductor injuries that he has dealt with over the last few seasons are truly behind him.

These players are not expected to play 82 games but if the four locked in starters, can play at least 65 games. Phoenix should have one of the best, if not the best record in the western conference.

The only defense that will be able to contain the Suns offense is the injury report. The Suns players have stay off of that report as much as possible.

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