Publish date:

14 PHOENIX SUNS

Author:

A MODEST PROPOSAL...

LET DEVIN BOOKER PLAY THE POINT

The definition of point guard has grown foggier by the day as more teams opt to put the ball in the hands of their best players and figure the rest out later. Recent reports have suggested the Suns would like to acquire a proper playmaker to pair with 21-year-old Devin Booker, an offensive dynamo who requires extra cover on the other end. Assuming there's no magic trade fix, the immediate solution is obvious: Just let Booker bring the ball up.

Booker has improved his shooting percentages, points and assists per game in each of his three seasons, a prodigious feat given his age. He has always been a scorer first, and though he isn't a James Harden--caliber playmaker, consider how Victor Oladipo's ballhandling bolstered the Pacers last season. Booker is a constant threat to score at the point of attack, and shifting him over creates more minutes for Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges and more chances to run spread pick-and-rolls with DeAndre Ayton. If Booker can initiate more offense and make his teammates better as a passer, it would cement his status as a foundational piece—and go a long way toward justifying the $158 million deal he signed in July.

STARTING 5

COACH IGOR KOKOŠKOV

2017--18 RECORD: 21--61

PREDICTION: Miss playoffs

PG ELIE OKOBO [EUROPEAN STATS]

4.7

APG

SG DEVIN BOOKER (50 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

24.9

PPG

SF TREVOR ARIZA [NEW ACQUISITION] (77 [SI'S TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING])

36.8

3FG%

PF RYAN ANDERSON [NEW ACQUISITION]

38.6

3FG%

C DEANDRE AYTON [ROOKIE/COLLEGE STATS]

61.2

FG%

THE SUNS were in dire need of someone who can put the ball in the basket; they finished 28th in the league in field goal percentage, at 44.2%.

BENCH

SF JOSH JACKSON

C TYSON CHANDLER

SF T.J. WARREN

(*) NEW ACQUISITION

(#) SI's TOP 100 PLAYER RANKING

(R) ROOKIE/COLLEGE STATS

(E) EUROPEAN STATS

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP PHOENIX

The suns made some win-now moves with TREVOR ARIZA,RYAN ANDERSON and TYSON CHANDLER, but it's no guarantee they won't wind up tanking again. I can absolutely see them trading the guys they just signed. You don't want to have an older team where there are no young guys to push the veterans.... The hole is the point guard position. I know they love ELIE OKOBO, so I guess they're going to try to make it work with him unless they swing a trade. They could use a Patrick Beverley--type alongside DEVIN BOOKER, a defensive-type who won't take Booker's shots, but can bring the ball up and guard the best player on the other team.... They drafted the wrong guy at No. 1. I would have gone with Luka Dončić. As much as people talk about the modern NBA, some teams are still drafting big guys. It's really weird.... Teams will try to confuse DEANDRE AYTON and force him into turnovers. He will roll to the rim and be a lob threat. He's going to get smaller guys on switches and try to prove he can punish them. The next step will be whether he can make moves and score in the post on big guys.... Ariza has slipped a bit. Houston was counting on him for certain roles and matchups. Phoenix won't have that luxury. They'll need him for more.... MIKAL BRIDGES has a lot of fans around the league. The Suns gave up a future No. 1 for him so you know they will give him an opportunity. The consensus is that he's going to be a solid plug-and-play wing.