Home of arguably the most tortured fanbase in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns are currently in the midst of an eight-season playoff drought. However, following an offseason that showed much promise including extending Devin Booker to a five year, $158 million dollar contract, securing the future of the Phoenix franchise. Then drafting Arizona standout, Deandre Ayton, it appears this will be another year of adjustment and growth for Phoenix.
- Extended Devin Bookers Contract
At just 21years old, Devin Booker has already posted back-to-back 20 points per game seasons just four years removed from college. Also scoring 70 points in a single game, Booker is clearly one of the NBA’s rising superstars. And securing him for another six years should prove to be massive going forward.
- Drafted Deandre Ayton
With the 1st overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns selected Arizona center, Deandre Ayton. In his senior season at Arizona, Ayton averaged 20.1 points per game, 11.6 rebounds, and nearly two blocks per game on 61% shooting from the field. A dominant force in the paint, through his first two preseason games, Ayton has averaged over 21 points and 11 rebounds per game to go along with six recorded blocks. And although these stats don’t actually matter because it’s preseason, it’s definitely encouraging for Suns fans to see their number one overall pick dominate against professionals.
- Acquired Ryan Anderson for Brandon Knight and Marqueese Chriss
Although this trade doesn’t feature and “flashy” names, Ryan Anderson can be an efficient role player at his peak and Marqueese Chriss still has the potential to become an effective role player. However, as for Brandon Knight, he will likely end his career most known for his appearances in every modern NBA player’s highlight reel. So for Phoenix, they essentially trading away a player with a lot of potential for an older, established stretch four. And although this could help them win some games now, it doesn’t really make sense for their future, which is what they should ultimately be focused on.
- Signed Trevor Ariza
What many would describe as one of the leagues best “Three-And-D” players, Trevor Ariza is a long, athletic forward who has shot just under 37% from behind the arc for his career. However, a streaky shooter on a below-average team, it is unclear if Ariza can produce the same numbers (or better) with fewer playmakers around him. A deal that doesn’t make a ton of sense for either side, I assume the plan is for Ariza to help stretch the floor and provide more space for Booker and Ayton to work.
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- Fired Ryan McDonough
Since McDonough’s hiring in 2013, the Suns have appeared in zero playoffs and have had one winning season. A disappointing track record for any GM, many of McDonough’s decisions, including going from having three competent point guards to none. However, the timing of this firing is very interesting considering Phoenix is less than 10 days away from their season opener and let McDonough handle both the draft and free agency only to fire him days before the start of the season.
Development of Young Draft Picks
- Josh Jackson
Taken with the fourth pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Josh Jackson was a lockdown defender who was able to finish efficiently around the rim. However, obviously going up against much better talent, Jackson was still able to produce defensively, but at times struggled to create his own shot on offense. Nevertheless, Jackson still averaged over 14 points per game on over 40% shooting from the field to go along with one steal per game. Solid stats for a rookie season, Jackson showed great potential and could become a future all-star if he adds any sort of jump shot.
- Dragan Bender
A 7’1″ stretch big out of Croatia, the Suns drafted Bender with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. However, with views of him developing into the next Dirk Nowitzki, Bender has had a disappointing start to his NBA career. Through two seasons, Bender has averaged 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game on 37% shooting from the field. Atrocious numbers, for a former top-five pick, one can only hope Bender’s production will increase as the Suns stack more talent around him.
Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton
I’ve already talked about both Booker and Ayton individually, but their play together will be vital to the team’s long-term success. If Booker and Ayton can develop a Kobe and Shaq type relationship, in which two ball dominant players learn to work together, the Suns should have no problem making the playoffs in a few years. And honestly, we can’t really tell if Booker is that “selfish” of a player. Surrounded with less than sufficient talent to start his career, it seems Booker will be much more open to sharing the offensive workload than Kobe was.
Although the Suns have some promising building blocks for the future in Booker and Ayton, there is no doubt in my mind they have no chance of making the western conference playoffs this season. Likely to be sporting one of the leagues worst benches to go along with a young and fairly inexperienced starting line-up, I fully expect to see Phoenix back in the lottery next spring.
12th in Western Conference
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