By: Johnny Dahabra
Ever since the Phoenix Suns lost Steve Nash this has been a franchise with no real direction or building blocks. That is, until Devin Booker came along. Booker was the star many thought would pull the Sun’s out of these dark times. While his near 20 PPG career average hasn’t translated to winning yet it’s still too early to count out Booker, and this young Phoenix core for a few reasons.
The first of these reasons is obviously Devin Booker. It’s more than just Devin Booker however, it’s his age. Giannis, Embiid, Davis, Jokic, Mitchell, Porzingis, Simmons, and Towns. All are All-Star level players. All are also older than Devin Booker. Only Giannis and Davis averaged as many points as Booker last season at 25 PPG. Both are also 2 and 4 years older respectively. While he isn’t the best defender he is clearly one of the league's best young scorers. This team has relied far too heavily on the young star since he joined the league but last season another star was beginning to shine.
4th overall pick Josh Jackson started to emerge last season. While his 13.1 PPG on 12.1 FGA doesn’t scream future star his post All-Star numbers were much better. He averaged 18.7 PPG on 43.8% shooting along with 6 RPG in 31 MPG.His 6’8 frame 6’10 wingspan are ideal for today’s NBA. His explosiveness off the dribble will become more valuable once he’s able to adjust more to the leagues pace in his second season. With those things being said he did only shoot 25% from the 3 point line post All-Star break which definitely needs improvement. If Jackson is able to improve his shooting touch his athleticism and nack for the offensive side of the ball will be detrimental for this team going forward. Jackson may play a vital role for the Sun’s but there's a new man in Phoenix, a big one.
The next Shaq. That’s what the Phoenix Suns new big man has been called since his impressive season at Arizona State averaging 20.1 PPG and 11.6 in just one season. Ayton’s unique combination of size, athleticism, and touch make him a possible once in a generation talent. While we haven’t seen his game translate to the league just yet, if he can be a consistent double double threat then he’ll be a huge asset moving forward. The Suns finished dead last in points per game allowed at 113.3 due to their lack of a legit defensive stud on the wing, and even more so, a post presence. Tyson Chandler is no longer the paint protector he once was and Ayton needs to come and fill the role of a defensive stopper on the block as well as take pressure off of Booker offensively. If Ayton lives up to his hype and becomes a difference maker on both sides of the floor then this Phoenix core can make some noise in the West for years to come.
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