Brendon Kleen of SB Nation’s Phoenix Suns affiliate, Bright Side of the Sun, graciously shared his thoughts on the status of the Suns organization, specifically how the season is going. Unfortunately, the Memphis Grizzlies are in a similar position as the Suns and could actually learn a lot from the Phoenix version of “The Process.”
The Grizzlies face Phoenix tonight; both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back. This game could potentially be lottery pick altering. In other words, this game could actually mean something...for the wrong reasons.
1) As it stands right now, it is a close race for who will get the number one pick in the upcoming draft. Are Suns' fans in favor of an outright tank?
I think Suns fans at this point understand that with the current roster, even playing whatever veterans are still around (Jared Dudley, Greg Monroe and Tyson Chandler) won’t really contribute to wins. So they’re in a good spot as far as that goes, where development isn’t coming at the cost of wins, it is merely an overall byproduct of the current roster construction. They’re losing even when Devin Booker (out tonight) or T.J. Warren score the ball well.
2) What do the Suns do well this season?
They find their way into what I call “cheap easy points,” meaning they have a somewhat optimistic offensive profile in that they get lots of opportunities from offensive rebounds and transition looks, which are typically considered “easy points.” Yet they finish terribly around the rim and rarely get there, largely because they have little to no shooting outside of the two-guard position.
So what they do well is offensive rebound and score in transition; unfortunately, those aren’t really categories that change the tide of games consistently.
3) The Grizzlies and Suns are bad in their own ways, what are your expectations for this match-up?
I think it could get ugly. Even when the Suns have won (they’re on a two-game win streak), it’s been mostly ugly, even when Booker was healthy. This is not a super talented team at this point, still trying to coalesce around loose pieces. I am mostly just interested to see the Tyreke Evans - Josh Jackson matchup.
4) Who are the exciting, young players on the Suns' roster that fans should be excited for?
At this point, Booker and Dragan Bender lend the most hope to desperate Suns fans. Booker has taken a mini leap this year, becoming a consistent and efficient scorer for the first time in his career. That’s surprising, considering the upheaval at the point guard and coaching spots early in the year. He was on a tear before he got injured, but over the last two wins, Bender has taken center stage in Suns fans’ dreams. He has shot well and built on the defensive potential he’s flashed over the first part of his career.
5) What is some advice for Grizzlies fans to endure an downright terrible season?
Watch lots of college basketball, and get excited about the draft! There are definitely worse years to go all-in on the lottery with so much elite talent at the top, and hey, even with Memphis and Phoenix's rough history in the draft, you still end up with a Devin Booker at 13 once in a while!
BONUS: Who has the worst contract on the Suns' roster?
The worst contract is Brandon Knight, undoubtedly. Tyson Chandler gets the most attention, but he’s really only paid like a high-end backup at this point, having signed his deal BEFORE the 2016 free agency bonanza.
Knight, on the other hand, has literally never contributed positively to Suns wins since the Suns traded their best Ryan McDonough-era asset (the Lakers pick that was most recently dealt for Markelle Fultz this summer) to get him. He also signed his deal so long ago that he makes less money than some less-productive counterparts, but overall his contract handicaps the Suns the most because of the potential they gave up to get him.