Devin Booker will be out until late January at the earliest, leaving the Phoenix Suns with many games to manage without their star; these are three keys to the Suns managing this journey.
The Phoenix Suns play one more game in 2022 and then 15 games in January, giving Monty Williams likely 16 or even more games to manage without star Devin Booker. As the team’s leading scorer and top playmaker, not named Chris Paul, one player will not replace what DBook gives to the team. However, if the players step up collectively and individually in essential areas, Phoenix can manage Booker’s absence and remain out of the playoff play-in.
Key 1 – Suns need to do the dirty work
Losing 27+ points and 5+ assists makes the job of the Suns more difficult. As such, outscoring teams will be difficult without some good defense.
During the current road trip, when Phoenix went into Memphis, they decided to play tough defense for 48 minutes and were awarded a big win. Alternatively, in DC against the Wizards, the Suns played defense intermittently and took a punch to the jaw. Given Washington was missing Bradley Beale, it was a missed opportunity for the Suns, with or without Booker.
The results in Washington were not about the Wizards being that much better than Phoenix or Memphis the night before. Instead, the results were about the Suns and the intensity they brought as a team – in Memphis – and did not– in DC. If Phoenix is going to have any chance of staying in the top half of the Western Conference playoff race, it starts with defense.