Getty Bradley Beal and Devin Booker have yet to play a game together.
The “Big Three” of the Suns will not play a game together until – at least – the beginning of December. On the morning of November 17th, the Suns’ official Twitter account posted an update on Bradley Beal’s back injury. It wasn’t the update Suns fans were hoping for. Instead, the team reported that Beal will miss the next three weeks as he rehabs a lower back strain.
INJURY UPDATE: The Phoenix Suns announced today that guard Bradley Beal will be out in three weeks and will undergo a re-evaluation as he continues to rehab from a lower back strain. This timeline was determined following further assessment and consultation regarding his injury.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) November 17, 2023
All injury news is, of course, terrible. But injury reports that do not include a clear timeline for a player’s return are perhaps the worst kind, because they imply that the team, player and coaching staff are not fully aware of the severity of the injury.
Beal won’t return to the field for three weeks – he’ll just be reevaluated in three weeks, meaning this back strain could sideline him for even longer. Three weeks from today, November 17th, will be December 8th. Phoenix will play at least eight games during that period – plus other potential in-season tournament games that have not yet been officially scheduled.
Beal’s recent injury struggles continue
When Bradley Beal is on the court, he is one of the most skilled and versatile scorers in the NBA. The former Wizards star averaged over 30 points per game twice and reached three All-Star Games during his tenure with Washington. But in recent seasons, Beal has struggled to stay healthy. He missed 74 games in 2021-22 and 2022-23 and will miss a majority of Phoenix’s first 20 games this season.
However, Beal wasn’t always injury-prone. He only missed a total of 10 games in the four years from 2016 to 2020, playing in every game in both 2017-18 and 2018-19. But he also averaged over 36 minutes per game during those seasons and led the league in minutes during that time. He’s now 30 years old, and the heavy workload Beal endured in his 20s seems to be catching up with him physically.
When Phoenix traded for Bradley Beal in June, the team and fans had visions of an explosive offense led by Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. Within a month, these high expectations have clearly not been fulfilled. Now fans have to wait even longer for the trio to take the floor at the same time.
Kevin Durant is the only member of the Big Three who has remained healthy so far in the 2023-24 season. He appeared in all 11 games and played like an MVP, averaging 30.1 points and shooting over 45% from distance. 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.
Is the superteam era coming to an end?
The era of the “super team” could be coming to an end. The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement will make it harder for teams to hoard top talent, and we’ve also seen potential super teams collapse in recent years; Most recently, the Brooklyn Nets’ attempt to form a “Big Three” that included Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving failed without achieving any real success.
Phoenix hopes its own version of the Big Three can avoid that fate. The first order of business is to make sure everyone stays healthy so the front office and fans can see how well this experiment will actually work.
Quinn Everts covers the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns for Heavy.com. Based in Portland, Oregon, he has been covering the NBA for nearly a decade, including at NBA.com, Basketball News, Yardbarker and FanSided. More about Quinn Everts