Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker will return to the lineup on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets, the team announced Monday. Booker has been out for five weeks with a strained left groin, but recently began ramping up his on-court work and joined the team for its current five-game road trip.
Booker's absence has been difficult on the Suns. The Suns were the Western Conference frontrunners in December, but they are 10-11 since Booker went down and have since slid all the way to fifth place. But given the tightness in the West, Phoenix is currently only 3.5 games above the 13th-place Los Angeles Lakers, so getting Booker back quickly to cushion their lead over the teams outside of the top 10 is critical.
When he was playing, Booker established himself as a fringe MVP candidate. He's currently on pace to set a new career-high by averaging 27.1 points per game on more efficient shooting and with more assists than he had a season ago.
With Chris Paul's age showing, Jae Crowder no longer with the team and injuries to almost everyone else on the roster, Booker has needed to step up his game to keep the Suns in the playoff picture.
Now that he's returning, the Suns will have most of their roster available to them for the first time in quite some time. Paul is healthy. DeAndre Ayton and Cam Johnson are healthy. The Suns have reportedly been active on the trade market, and once they make it back to full strength, they would be among the scariest teams in the Western Conference.