Written by Mike Ryan:
The Phoenix Suns have been long rumored in acquiring a go to star to add to their young core as they try to accelerate their rebuild.
Unfortunately, none of their rumored interested panned out and they failed to land a big time player in free agency. The Suns had expressed interest in Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and were rumored to be involved in any Kevin Love deal if Cleveland decided to move him.
The Suns will not be much of a factor in the Western Conference in terms of a playoff race but they are a franchise that is headed in the right direction.
Here’s the projected starting lineup:
Starters: (Bold indicates new addition to team)
PG – Eric Bledsoe
SG – Devin Booker
SF – Josh Jackson – Draft Pick
PF – Marquese Chriss
C – Tyson Chandler
The starting lineup is anchored by a pair of young and exciting wings in Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. Both are filled with all star potential.
Hell, Booker scored 70 in a game last season and did so when only hitting four three point shots. Booker scored over 22 points per game in just his second NBA season.
Jackson was the fourth overall pick and is a player that is dynamic athlete. A player who hustles nightly and is already going to be a top wing defender in the NBA from day one. He should fit nicely alongside Booker.
Chriss is the third young player in the starting rotation and has some upside. Questions remain if he can be a consistent player on a nightly basis and if his shot selection and overall basketball IQ improves.
Bledsoe is a steadying presence at the point guard position and is above average guard when healthy.
Chandler anchors the defense and the paint. The veteran center has been a part of good basketball teams and can still defend the rim, however it will be tough to rely on him for the majority of the year.
PG – Brandon Knight
PG – Tyler Ullis
SG – Davon Reed – Draft Pick
SF – TJ Warren
SF – Jared Dudley
SF – Elijah Millsap
SF – Derrick Jones
PF – Alan Williams
PF – Alec Peters – Draft Pick
C – Dragan Bender
The Suns bench is a significant weakness and a glaring black hole for the roster. Brandon Knight as worn out his welcome with the Suns.
Tyler Ullis flashed promise as a contributing second round pick but is still undersized back up point guard. His development is important because if he shows he can be a starter, Bledsoe can be trade bait.
Derrick Jones received little playing time and was better known for his dunk contest appearance than his contributions on the court.
Alan Williams was recently brought back with a 3 year $17 million extension. After the a star break, Williams averaged 11.4 points and 9.1 rebounds in just over 22 minutes per game.
Alec Peters is an intriguing prospect as the Suns were able to acquire him later than expected in the draft due to injury concerns. His health will determine how he performs.
Dragan Bender still might be a year or two away from being a valuable asset. He showed little during his rookie season and really struggled scoring and rebounding the basketball. Bender needs to add more strength to his body.
The Suns have pieces to build off of and are headed in the correct direction. Booker and Jackson should fill the wing positions for the next 6-8 years. If the Suns have either Chriss and Bender develop into a solid player that will help accelerate the rebuild.
It should be another long year in Arizona this year but if the Suns land another top 5 pick to add to the Booker and Jackson core, they will become a team that has a good as a young core as any in the NBA.
The 2018 draft is once again a deep draft filled with talented prospects. Suns fans may not have to wait to much longer for competitive basketball to return. With future cap space and young stars, the Suns are primed to become a future free agent destination as well.