Josh Jackson (1st Round , #4) , Davon Reed (2nd Round , #32) , Troy Daniels , Mike James
OUT: Leandro Barbosa
Once upon a time the Suns were a perennial post season team, playing some of the most exciting ball the league had ever seen. Sadly things have slowed down a notch from the “7 Seconds or less” glory days. Phoenix hasn’t sniffed the play offs since making the Conference Finals in 2010, a drought that doesn’t look like ending anytime soon.
They essentially threw the towel in after the All-Star break last season, trading away P.J.Tucker and shutting down veteran players in a shameful attempt at losing more games than their lottery rivals. It netted them explosive wing man Josh Jackson with the 4th Pick but doesn’t move them any closer to competing in the loaded Western Conference.
The Suns had the 28th ranked defence in the league last season, due in part to having so many clueless youngsters in their rotation. Veterans Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe & Jared Dudley were supposed to help but were benched & are likely to become valuable trade bait as the upcoming season progresses. The Suns really should be looking to snag some more pics or younger players for these depreciating assets. Silky guard Devin Booker is the future here and the Suns timeline will be linked to how quickly he can take the next step from being a dominant scorer, to a player who can create for others and play at least passable defence.
The Suns don’t shoot or defend the three point shot well at all and struggle to create in the half court. Earl Watson should be looking to get the young legs of Dragon Bender, Marquese Chriss & Derrick Jones out and running in transition as often as possible. Chriss & Jones looked particularly raw in their Rookie seasons and need to show more control and improved shooting if Suns are going to improve their win total.
Phoenix were pretty much non players in the free agent market. Back up big man Alex Len showed improvement & is back on a one year deal . Forward T.J. Warren & his old man mid range trickery has re-signed , the Suns could do with him expanding his range and improving his defence to justify their investment. Alan Williams signed a team friendly three year deal that should have provided some rebounding if not much else, then went out and tore his meniscus, clouding his future somewhat. Point Guard Brandon Knight is also likely done for the season after tearing his ACL during the summer, so second year man Tyler Ulis and rookie Mike James may see extended minutes.
The jury is very much still out on Earl Watson as an NBA coach, but the Suns players seem to enjoy playing for him and chemistry didn’t seem to be an issue last year thanks to the presence of vets like Dudley and Chandler. Any improvement to the win total could be dependent on who is still on the roster in the new year.