Suns Notes: Beal, Bol, O’Neale, Gordon, Durant

Injured Suns guard Bradley Beal is “making progress” with the left hamstring issue that has kept him on the shelf for the team’s past four games, head coach Frank Vogel said on Tuesday, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Beal missed Phoenix’s final contest before the All-Star break due to what the team has referred to as hamstring “tightness.” Vogel suggested at the time that the injury didn’t appear significant, and the star guard was originally listed as questionable for last Thursday’s game vs. Dallas. However, he was ruled out for that one and two more since then. According to Vogel, Beal still isn’t fully comfortable with “high-intensity” work.

“He did some of the non-contact stuff,” Vogel said after Tuesday’s practice. “More sprint work. There’s quick twitch stuff, which is shell defense, half court, and then there’s the full-court sprinting where you’re stretching out your legs and your stride. So that’s where he was having some discomfort still, but he’s making progress.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Bol Bol has worked his way into Phoenix’s rotation this month, playing a season-high 27 minutes on Friday and 24 more on Sunday. Bol’s ascension has been well-earned, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (subscription required), who says a regular role feels sustainable for the big man as long as he remains healthy.
  • In a story for his newsletter, Bourguet identifies five Suns lineups that he’d like to see more of, including four groups that feature relative newcomer Royce O’Neale.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic spoke to both O’Neale and Eric Gordon about their experiences in Phoenix this season, as well as their time with their former teams in Brooklyn and Houston, respectively. O’Neale, who was acquired by the Suns at the trade deadline, said he has enjoyed joining a team that was prioritizing defensive help. “It’s been good. That’s what kind of made my name in the league, defense,” O’Neale said. “Just coming in, being one of the guys that brings that defensive intensity, leadership, trying to help these guys and they’re helping me out. So it’s been good, I feel welcomed back to playing good basketball.”
  • While Kevin Durant has been as effective as ever on offense this season, advanced stats suggest he’s also taking his game to new heights defensively, as Jake Fischer details in a story for Yahoo Sports. “Sometimes you have to hide top scorers just to manage their workload or whatever. But he wants that challenge each night,” Vogel said. “He’s more engaged when he’s guarding a top guy. And his seven-foot length and wingspan, and ability to slide his feet, he can guard most guys in this league, big and small.”
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