Phoenix Suns’ Bradley Beal returning from injury, starting in Hornets game Friday

Dec 29, 2023, 10:51 AM | Updated: 5:34 pm

Bradley Beal...

Bradley Beal is reportedly nearing his return. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal (right ankle sprain) was upgraded to available for Friday’s home game against the Charlotte Hornets, according to the team.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro first reported Beal was nearing his return, noting Wednesday he could potentially play in one of the final games of December.

Beal will start alongside Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Jusuf Nurkic and Grayson Allen.

Despite the team saying on Dec. 18 that Beal wouldn’t be re-evaluated until “the start of January,” signs were pointing to a possible return with those reports and an official injury report listing of questionable as of Thursday afternoon.

Phoenix (15-15) plays the Hornets on Friday and the Orlando Magic on Sunday before a matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers on New Year’s Day. That is the front end of a six-game homestand that ends with games against the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies.

Beal sprained his right ankle in a loss to the New York Knicks on Dec. 15 as Donte DiVincenzo encroached on Beal’s landing zone coming down from a made three-pointer. Beal stayed in to complete the four-point play at the foul line before exiting and not returning.

Though the Suns’ Big 3 of Beal, Booker and Durant have played just 24 minutes together over five quarters this year, they boast a 24.7 net rating including a 132.7 offensive rating.

For reference, the Philadelphia 76ers lead the league with an 11.2 net rating, and the Indiana Pacers lead the league with a 121.8 offensive rating.

In six games this season, Beal is averaging 14.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 25.2 minutes per game with a career-high 42.9% shooting mark from deep.

After a 12-game stretch where the Suns went 3-9, Phoenix is coming off its best win of the month, a 129-113 win over the Houston Rockets, who are still a half game ahead of the Suns in the Western Conference standings.

Beal has been going through pregame warmups ahead of recent games, including before the win over Houston.

The Suns won’t have Josh Okogie (ankle) or Nassir Little (knee) on Friday, though, as head coach Frank Vogel ruled them out pregame. Okogie sprained his ankle on Christmas against the Dallas Mavericks.

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