The Phoenix Suns‘ “Big Three” will not play a game together until — at least — early December.
On Friday, November 17, the Suns’ official X account gave an update on Bradley Beal‘s back injury. It was not the update Suns fans were hoping for. Instead, the team reported that Beal will miss the next three weeks as he rehabs a low back strain.
All injury news is horrible, of course. But injury news that doesn’t include a clear timeline for a player’s return is perhaps the worst kind, because it implies that the team, player and training staff aren’t fully aware of the injury’s severity.
Beal will not return to the court in three weeks — he’ll simply be re-evaluated in three weeks, meaning this back strain could sideline him for even longer than that. Three weeks from today, November 17, will be December 8. Phoenix will play at least eight games in that timeframe — plus more potential In-Season Tournament games that haven’t been officially scheduled yet.
Bradley Beal’s Recent Injury Struggles Continue
When Beal is on the court, he is one of the smoothest, most versatile scorers in the NBA. The former Wizards star averaged over 30 points per game twice and made three All-Star games in his tenure with Washington. But in the last few seasons, Beal has struggled to stay healthy. He missed 74 games in 2021-22 and 2022-23 and he’ll miss a majority of Phoenix’s first 20 games this season.
Beal wasn’t always injury-prone, though. He missed only 10 games total in four years from 2016 to 2020 and played every game in both 2017-18 and 2018-19. But he also averaged over 36 minutes per game in those seasons and led the league in minutes during that stretch. Now 30 years old, the heavy workload Beal underwent in his 20s appears to be catching up to him physically.
When Phoenix traded for Beal in June, the team and fans had visions of an explosive offensive headlined by Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. Through a month, those high expectations have clearly not materialized. Now, fans will have to wait even longer to see the trio take the floor at the same time.
Durant is the only member of the Big Three who has stayed healthy throughout the 2023-24 season thus far. He’s appeared in all 11 games and played like an MVP, averaging 30.1 points and shooting over 45% from deep. That level of play has almost single-handedly kept Phoenix (5-6) competitive as the team waits for Booker and Beal to return to action.
Superteam Era Coming to an End?
The era of the “Superteam” might be coming to an end. The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it tougher on teams to stockpile high-end talent, and we’ve also watched prospective Superteams crumble in the past few years; most recently, the Brooklyn Nets‘ attempt at a “Big Three” that included Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving faltered without achieving any real success.
Phoenix is hoping that its own version of a “Big Three” can avoid that same fate. The first order of business will be to make sure everyone gets healthy so the front office and fans can see how well this experiment will actually work.