So the Phoenix Suns stand at 10-21 at the moment and are coming off a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves which they got on the road which is quite an impressive victory if you ask me, specially considering they won without their
star shooting-guard Devin Booker. Devin Booker is averaging a whopping 24 ppg this season and showed us he is serious about becoming great after a historic 70 point performance against the Boston Celtics last season in which he went unconscious and into a zone reminiscent of all-time great Kobe Bryant.
I have been observing power-forward Dragan Bender for some time now, I think a lot of us forget this kid was drafted 4th overall by the Suns and also very young and still developing. So anyone labeling him a bust because he averaged 3.4 ppg his rookie season should give the kid time, he is only 20 years old and only started 1 out of 43 games last season. Dragan Bender scored 17 points in 30 minutes off the bench and made 5-8 3 points shots showing us why the Suns took a shot at him at number 4 because of his potential as a NBA stretch 4. He stands at 7’1 225 pounds with a 7’0 wingspan, he still needs to physically develop possibly put on 10-15 pounds of muscle just to get stronger and be able to be more then just a spot up shooter and become strong enough to hit the boards more effectively and finish through contact down low.
Dragan Bender will come along just a matter of when he puts it all together and becomes the star the Suns organization is banking on him to become. Booker is also very young and has taken full control of his opportunity and minutes and blossomed into a star, he will be an elite scorer but to take the next step he must become a better all-around defender which is his glaring weakness but that’s all about effort. He lacks the athleticism to become elite as a defender but its 70 percent effort 30 percent skill, he’ll be fine.
TJ Warren has been that second option behind Devin Booker averaging 18 ppg while Josh Jackson has somewhat struggled in his rookie season and still getting used to the NBA pace. Jackson still needs to become a better shooter coming off-screens but is an above average play-maker at the small-forward position and can serve as a point forward for the Suns in the future. Josh Jackson has the athleticism to defend point guards all the way down to power-forwards and cause mismatches, once he develops that 3 point shot the Suns will be really tough to guard. I feel like he is trying too hard to breakout but it’s good that he is making mistakes early, it will help him make a second year leap much easier.
Marquese Chriss is another young power-forward they drafted at number 8 who stands at 6’10 231, reminds me a lot of Amare Stoudemire with his jumping ability and rim rattling dunks but he lacks the wingspan to rebound at a high rate. He could become a star but would likely need to become a knock-down shooter and serve as a perimeter threat to maximize his potential. The Suns do hold a top 10 pick and the glaring hole is the point guard position where the 2018 NBA Draft does not boast a potential star point-guard.
Collin Sexton and Trae Young project as scoring guards in the NBA, Trevon Duval projects more as a traditional pass first point guard. Duval is doing a phenomenal job under Mike Krzyzewski leading a Duke offense boasted by other 1st round picks Grayson Allen,Gary Trent Jr,Wendell Carter Jr, and Marvin Bagley. Duval would fit in quite nicely alongside Booker and would not get in the way of Bender,Jackson, and Warren’s developments and instead help accelerate it.
The Suns have a very bright future, I’d still say they are 2-3 years away from getting back to prominence but the pieces are there. The finished product could be scary, Josh Jackson,Devin Booker and Dragan Bender all have All-Star ceilings including who ever they decide to draft top 10 next summer. The rebuild has taken longer then expected but thinking long-term sometimes gives you a better perspective on things, with the crop of talent the Suns boast don’t be shocked if Devin Booker is Finals MVP by 2021.