The Phoenix Suns in 2016-2017 haven’t been any surprise, currently tied for the 15th spot in the Western Conference with the Dallas Mavericks. Are the Suns really that bad or do they just need a few pieces to finish the puzzle? That’s the question everybody wants to know.
In the second game of the season, the Suns faced up against the Oklahoma City Thunder, losing a close one. With a thunder comeback in the 4th. TJ Warren finished the game with 30 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist while Devin Booker went for 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist.
Rookie Marquese Chriss ended up with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in 11 minutes. Bender didn’t play well, only getting a rebound, steal, and a block in 7 minutes while shooting 0-1 from the field.
So far this season its been good scoring years for Booker (18.8), Bledsoe (19.9), and Warren (16). Off the bench, Knight (13.3) is making a solid campaign to be the NBA’s 6th man of the year.
Marquese Chriss: The 8th pick in the 2016 NBA draft was acquired by the Suns from the Kings in a draft day trade. Chriss Has shown flashes of his potential. A career high of 16 points and a career high of 12 rebounds are good for a rookie this far in the young season.
Chriss currently sits at 7th in rookie scoring (7.1) and 8th in rookie rebounding (3.4). With a solid 6’10 233-pound frame, he can bully in the paint and hit the open 3. Expect the Suns to build around Chriss in the upcoming years.
Devin Booker: We all know what Booker brings to the table. He’s a stellar 3-point scorer and can drive to the basket. As a rookie, he averaged 14 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, a statline heavily relied upon by Phoenix.
— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) August 4, 2016
Now with Earl Watson as head coach, Booker seems to be able to play more loosely. As a sophomore, Booker is averaging 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Booker even said he wanted to get the respect Steve Nash gots when he was in Phoenix, proving he is a piece the Suns can build around for a long time to come.
Dragan Bender: Bender is not what analysts thought he was going to be. Being the 4th pick in the 2016 NBA draft, you’re expected to make an immediate impact for the team. Bender has done the complete opposite. Only averaging 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, that’s all.
In my opinion he only got drafted because of the success of Kristaps Porzingis has had with the New York Knicks. Kristaps brought sun to the cloudy New York, while Bender is bringing clouds to the sunny city of Phoenix. He may get better. but only time will tell. If he doesn’t make an impact sooner rather than than later, expect all his minutes to be sent to Chriss.
Tyler Ulis: Ulis was drafted to make Devin Booker happier since they were best friends while playing together at the University of Kentucky. Using this pick in the 2nd round hasn’t ended up too bad after all. Ulis currently averaging 3.3 points and 1.5 assists per game. This could turn from a best friend story a Cinderella story if Ulis keeps progressing.
The future of the Suns could go a million different ways. In my 2017 NBA way too early mock draft, I have the Phoenix Suns drafting Jayson Tatum, a small forward out of Duke. Standing 6’8 and almost 210 pounds, he could be the perfect match for the Suns’ current small forward, TJ Warren. Obviously Tatum is more raw, but they have very similar games. If Warren decides to stay in Phoenix and Tatum is still drafted, it would still work with either coming off the bench.
In the 2018 NBA draft, the Suns could end up having a lottery pick from both themselves and the Miami Heat. Stay tuned with this team, because they are going to be fun to watch.