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Season Record: 19-63, 15th in the West
Head Coach: Igor Kokoskov
Most Frequent Starting Five (15 Games): (G) De’Anthony Melton – (G) Devin Booker – (F) Mikal Bridges – (F) TJ Warren – (C) DeAndre Ayton
6 July 2018 – Signed F Trevor Ariza as a free agent, signed G Elié Okobo to a multi-year contract.
18 December 2018 – Waived G Austin Rivers.
6 February 2019 – Traded F Ryan Anderson to the Miami Heat in exchange for G Wayne Ellington and G Tyler Johnson.
22 April 2019 – Fired Igor Kokoskov as Head Coach.
3 May 2019 – Signed Monty Williams as Head Coach.
Devin Booker continues to prove himself to be one of the NBA’s most talented shooting guards. In terms of scoring alone, Booker contributed more than 20 points in 51 of his 64 games played. While his three-point shooting took a dip, his playmaking was on full display this season, averaging a career-high 6.8 assists per game.
Kelly Oubre found new life with the Phoenix Suns. After being traded from the toxic Washington Wizards, Oubre found himself to be a focal point in the offence of the Suns. His contributions in every major statistical category increased when he joined Phoenix, awarding him a starting spot in 12 of his 40 games played.
It is easy to forget that DeAndre Ayton was the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Bahamian didn’t get the same shine as fellow draftees Luka Doncic and Trae Young, but his impact was no less significant for his team. Ayton is already one of the most promising centers in the game. A rookie with 40 double-digit rebounding games out of 71 games played is nothing to overlook.
BTW, here’s what T.J. Warren had to say about the injury that kept him out for the final 33 games and not being able to come back: pic.twitter.com/mlRsCsaxun
Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) April 10, 2019
For another year in a row, TJ Warren was Devin Booker’s most capable running mate. Unfortunately, an untimely injury took Warren out of the lineup, while conflicting interest in his return schedule soured the Phoenix front office. Warren was surprisingly traded to the Pacers this offseason.
There’s a youth movement, but then there’s James Jones’ idea of “trimming the fat”. When Booker re-signed on a long-term contract, many thought the Suns were making it a point to compete. Instead, GM James Jones chose to waive or trade valuable veteran pieces (Ariza, Rivers, Dudley) while rotating through interesting but entirely ineffectual free agent pieces. The Suns’ lack of focus going forward rests squarely on the shoulders of Jones.
Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) April 23, 2019
Igor Kokoskov was an exciting prospective coach when the Phoenix Suns took him on. Unfortunately, the front office felt it wasn’t enough after one season. After losing the locker room and shuffling to find answers – the Suns had 28 different starting lineups – the Suns wanted someone new to guide their young core. Monty Williams was hired to replace Kokoskov.
Tyler Johnson was an afterthought to most fans when he joined the Phoenix Suns from the Miami Heat. Once he got on the court though, his impact was felt immediately. Indicative of a player from the Miami Heat system, Johnson was composed on both ends of the court. He also owned an impressive 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio with Phoenix.
Josh Jackson was expected to break out for the Phoenix Suns this past season. Unfortunately, he was less productive and seemed to take a step back in the process. While he showed flashes of success, consistency is needed from a player in his position. Jackson was traded to the Grizzlies this summer.
Jamal Crawford looked every bit of the 39-year-old veteran that he is but still showed off some gems. Most notably, in a farewell game to Dirk Nowitzki, Crawford decided to one-up his fellow veteran by dropping an unprecedented 51 points on 18-30 shooting. Crawford is still more valuable in the ears of young players, but he proves that form is temporary, while class is permanent.
Seemingly in a state of perpetual rebuilding, the Phoenix Suns were expected to make some big moves during the NBA Draft. They instead chose to take a different, more balanced route going forward.
Jarrett Culver will not dress for the Phoenix Suns this season, as he was traded on draft night in exchange for Dario Saric and No. 11 overall pick Cameron Johnson. Culver was the Big 12 Player of the Year, a consensus 18-19 All-America Second Team Selection, and led the Texas Tech Red Raiders to the NCAA Championship this past season.
KZ Okpala will not dress for the Phoenix Suns this season. He was traded to the Miami Heat, in exchange for multiple future picks. He is a capable offensive player, with the size to compete in the NBA. His defensive motor was a concern, compounding on the Suns’ lack of need for another isolation scorer.
A lights out shooter from deep, Cameron Johnson seems to be exactly what the Suns are looking for on the offensive end. He is lacking the athleticism to keep up with NBA speed at this point, but physicality can be built. Age is a factor for Johnson, but if he can impact the Suns out of the gate he will be an excellent steal.
A crafty point guard with notable size, Ty Jerome is an incredibly intriguing combo-guard. An excellent defender in college, Jerome hopes to improve on his ability in the NBA. He has less than ideal physical tools, so his offseason work will be crucial to his rookie success.
Neither KZ Okpala or Jarrett Culver will be joining the Phoenix Suns this season. They were traded away for future assets.
Cameron Johnson looks to be able to fit in quickly with his ability to shoot the ball. His rookie teammate Ty Jerome looks like an interesting playmaker and shooter as well. Both are certain to spend some time with their G-League affiliate, but they could certainly earn some minutes in a wide-open Suns rotation.
Ricky Rubio highlights from Spains friendly vs Côte dIvoire. Making nice reads as always. pic.twitter.com/iHfikejcHB
Mike Vigil (@ImPatBurke) August 10, 2019
Their talisman signing of the summer, Ricky Rubio enters the Phoenix Suns organization with significant pressure. He isn’t at the quality level of his Jazz replacement Mike Conley, exactly who the Suns were targeting primarily. Still, the Suns have acquired a steady veteran guard who can create plays for the Suns’ rim-runners and spot-up shooters. His offense is the real concern, as well as whether or not he can stay healthy.
7 Plays Or Less: Dario Saric @ PHX
In a small preview to our upcoming episode, here are some plays from Dario Saric against the Suns last season.
Good stretch skills when in the PnR & also as a shooter off the PnR. pic.twitter.com/enDPfYPy77
Seven Seconds Or Less Podcast (@7SOLpod) August 10, 2019
Dario Saric has had an eventful past year. After being moved from the contending Sixers to the rebuilding Timberwolves, Saric now finds himself as a veteran member of an underachieving Suns team. In Saric, the Suns acquire everything they wanted out of Dragan Bender. Offensively adept and defensively acute, Saric will look to be at the top of his game in a contract year.
Aron Baynes really reintroduced himself to Joel Embiid ? pic.twitter.com/GDlhuOrzLZ
sunOfficial Aron Baynes Fan Club (@BaynesFanClub) August 9, 2019
Baynes is a veteran presence that the Phoenix Suns need. A tough-nosed center with the strength to spell DeAndre Ayton against some of the NBA’s toughest bigs. He struggled with his health last year, so Baynes at 32 is sure to come out strong in a contract season.
Heres a video of the newest Phoenix Sun Jevon Carter wreaking havoc defensively. pic.twitter.com/lnFpu4QNSD
Zona Sports (@AZSportsZone) July 4, 2019
Jevon Carter was an interesting piece for the Grizzlies last season. He was a confident shooter and steady floor general for Memphis. More of a scorer than a distributor, he became surplus once Morant joined Memphis. He is certainly more intriguing than any point guard that Phoenix had last season, and will be vying for the primary backup role.
Frank Kaminsky putback dunk?
Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 1, 2017
Frank the Tank, as he is affectionately known, is coming off of a season of injury issues. He still shot the ball at the league average from deep, but continually struggled to stay on the court on the defensive side of the ball. He will be the main pick-and-pop option for the Suns, as his ability to shoot is matched by few at his size.
Stats Not Available
Jalen Lecque 2020 dunk contest.. ?? pic.twitter.com/XmXOky0J1I
House of NBA ? (@houseofnba) August 5, 2019
A four-star recruit out of high school, Lecque took the unconventional path by skipping college to go directly to the NBA. Dubbed “Baby Westbrook” by social media, Lecque is an interesting athletic prospect. However not much is expected of him after sitting out an entire season.
Cheick Diallo had a block party against the Jazz last night! https://t.co/iSLSed1rIW
Jayhawk Video (@JayhawkVideo) July 11, 2016
Cheick Diallo is an energy player for the Phoenix Suns. What he lacks in technical ability, he makes up for with aggressiveness and instincts on both ends. The Malian is exactly what the Suns need to contrast the finesse threats of Saric and Kaminsky in the frontcourt.
|Point Guard||Shooting Guard||Small Forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Ricky Rubio||Devin Booker||Mikal Bridges||Dario Saric||DeAndre Ayton|
|Elié Okobo||Tyler Johnson||Kelly Oubre||Frank Kaminsky||Aron Baynes|
|Jevon Carter||Ty Jerome||Cameron Johnson||Cheick Diallo|
While the Phoenix Suns have made moves to improve their roster and bring in intriguing prospects, it is unrealistic to see them competing for a playoff position. They are currently rated at the bottom with a +5000 to win the NBA Championship.
Devin Booker will continue to be a star and DeAndre Ayton is expected to improve on his excellent rookie season. Unfortunately, neither are skilled enough to carry a team that lacks such depth on their own.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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