There are probably some basketball fans who have luggage older than the guys the Suns were running out at the end of last season. Eric Bledsoe is 27 and he seems like a grizzled veteran. Tyson Chandler is 35, and he may as well be a character from the Old Testament. The starting five that closed the season for Phoenix had an average age of just over 21 years.
It's not that the Suns want to rebuild forever. They pursued LaMarcus Aldridge a few years ago, and they were chasing Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap before missing out this summer. They were linked with a move for Kyrie Irving before he was sent to Boston. For now, that leaves the young guys.
At 20, Devin Booker might be the best perimeter prospect in the league. Josh Jackson, also 20, should provide some much-needed help on defense, and his off-ball movement will be a boon to Bledsoe and Booker. Marquese Chriss—yes, he's 20, too—will have to be more consistent on both ends, but he has all the tools to be a star.
In fact, Chriss personifies the whole team. There are intriguing tools, there is talent, but at least for this season, there won't be a ton of consistency.
COACH EARL WATSON
(3rd season with Suns)
2016--17 RECORD 24--58
(5th in Pacific)
39 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
PG ERIC BLEDSOE
21.1 PPG; 6.3 APG; 43.4 FG%; 33.5 3FG%
64 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
SG DEVIN BOOKER
22.1 PPG; 3.4 APG; 42.3 FG%; 36.3 3FG%
SF JOSH JACKSON [ROOKIE, COLLEGE STATS]
16.3 PPG; 7.4 RPG; 51.3 FG%; 37.8 3FG%
PF MARQUESE CHRISS
9.2 PPG; 4.2 RPG; 0.9 BPG; 44.9 FG%
C TYSON CHANDLER
8.4 PPG; 11.5 RPG; 0.5 BPG; 67.1 FG%
SF TJ WARREN
14.4 PPG; 5.1 RPG; 49.5 FG%; 26.5 3FG%
PG TYLER ULIS
7.3 PPG; 3.7 APG; 0.8 SPG; 42.1 FG%
PF DRAGAN BENDER
3.4 PPG; 2.4 RPG; 35.4 FG%; 27.7 3FG%
• THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING
(R) ROOKIE, COLLEGE STATS
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP PHOENIX
I don't see a direction for them. They added a lottery pick in JOSH JACKSON, but that was their entire summer. It's like they want to be forgotten. They're just praying that DEVIN BOOKER becomes a top five shooting guard. This is a pretty hopeless situation.... It's hard to put together one single five-man lineup that gets you excited, mostly because their frontcourt is so thin. They can't stop anyone.... Among the young prospects at his position, I think Booker is the best all-around scorer. He can score out of pick-and-rolls and isolations. He can catch-and-shoot. He has all those levels and layers.... How many guys really complement Booker and can be part of the core? Jackson, I guess, but not really anyone else. DRAGAN BENDER and MARQUESE CHRISS are both question marks after shaky rookie years. I'm not even a big Jackson fan. His defense, size and athleticism will help, but his shooting motion is a mess.... We've reached the point where you have to conclude that ERIC BLEDSOE can't be the main guy for a winning team. He's probably their best trade piece, but BRANDON KNIGHT falling off a cliff and getting injured again killed their ability to move Bledsoe.... Chriss and Bender both look disinterested at times. They're too young to be checking out. Bender will have to play center; defending on the perimeter is a huge challenge for him. Chriss has a better body and physical tools, but I'd bet both are busts. Chriss has to improve his basketball IQ and awareness to have any shot. An unstructured environment like Phoenix was the worst place for him.
TELLING 21 STATISTIC
Bledsoe is good and Booker should be great, but the Suns need one more star to emerge before they move toward the playoffs.