Devin Booker is without question a star. But for the struggling Phoenix Suns, it comes down to who will be supporting Booker at the tail end of games. After the departure of Tyson Chandler, its clear that the Suns are leaning into their youth movement.
TJ Warren has been a bright spot for the Phoenix Suns, but hes not without fault. Hes taking less shots this year, playing fewer minutes (30 MPG in 2017 versus 33 MPG in 2018), and has drastically improved his three-point shot despite a small sample size. In all aspects Warren has become more efficient for the Suns, but what they truly need is someone to spell Bookers playmaking abilities which Warren has not shown the capacity to do.
Look no further than the Suns meager bench to explain their current record. In a devastatingly competitive Western Conference, no Suns reserve is averaging more than 8.6 PPG. Relying on a now 38 year-old Jamal Crawford to get hot and seal them a win is by no means a sound plan and removing Booker from the game almost signals Igor Kokoskovs teams vulnerability.
The Boston Celtics are struggling, the Washington Wizards may as well sell their squad for chips, and the Cavaliers are not inspiring. Meanwhile, after fifteen games the Detroit Pistons sit 8-7 with the rest of the Easts promising young teams on their tail.
The Pistons have rallied for inspiring wins against the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers, but have also dropped very winnable games against the Heat, Nets, and Hornets. Given its their first full-season with PF Blake Griffin and 17-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, growing pains are expected but they need to establish their position now.
The Pistons will be opening December with nine games against teams over .500, including a three-game run against Golden State, Oklahoma City, and Milwaukee. The Pistons defence is solid, 10th in the NBA in Defensive Rating, but without the firepower to compete with the league from the three-point line itll be a grind-it-out month for the Motor City to lock their place in the top of Eastern Conference standings.
The Phoenix Suns arent really challenging for anything this year. It seems to be that they are in for another high draft pick in hopes that Ayton can pair with one of the NCAAs hottest Duke prospectsRJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, or Cam Reddishin the event it doesnt work out for Booker in his contract year. This match against Detroit will be a great test for young C DeAndre Ayton, as he will be going up against the NBAs premier interior enforcer Andre Drummond.
Its clear that the Detroit Pistons cant afford to lose games against lesser competition. They took a gamble trading for Blake Griffin and so far it seems more a success than a failure. However, if the Pistons cant win convincingly against a team like the Suns theyll be hard-pressed against the rest of the East. Sitting at 20th in offensive rating in the NBA Detroit needs to define their style of play and lean on their top 10 defences to make some noise in the East.
Will Blake Griffin return to All-Star form?
Can the Pistons find their range from three?
Is Devin Booker counting the days until he leaves Phoenix?
Is TJ Warren a good player or propped up by the lack of other talent?
The odds will be updated as soon as theyre made available.
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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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