Over the past couple of years the Phoenix Suns have been one of the worst teams when it comes to defensive efficiency. The team has struggled to find people who can effectively defend and stop an opposing team’s offense. Even the Suns past star players Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire have not been solid defenders. In one instance Stoudemire admitted to never learning how to play defense. However, the Suns have found a potential answer to their defensive struggles. That answer comes in the form of a 6 foot 5 inch Shooting Guard/Small Forward formally named PJ Tucker.
Playing out of the University of Texas, Tucker entered the league formally in 2006 when he was drafted as the 35th overall pick by the Toronto Raptors. After a tumultuous year with the Raptors, Tucker opted out of the NBA and decided to play overseas instead. After spending a 5 year period in various countries that included Israel, Ukraine and Italy, Tucker signed with the Suns summer league team in 2012. Later in the year, Tucker joined the ailing Phoenix squad and began to hit it off with great success. Tucker became a fixture for the Suns defensive play and morale. His aggressive defense and shutdown mentality earned him a starting spot for the Suns late in the 2012-2013 season.
Offensively, Tucker has never been a real threat for the Suns. Throughout his career Tucker has only averaged 6.3 points per game, a number that is one of the lowest amongst starting Small Forwards in the league. However, the true elements that make tucker special cannot be found on a statistics sheet. Tucker’s hustle, defensive prowess and ability to stop scorers make him a talent for the Suns. During the 2013-2014 season, Tucker has seen himself matched up against fantastic players such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James and James Harden. These tough offensive match-ups have made Tucker even better on his way to becoming a defensive specialist for the Suns. In his game against the Rockets, Tucker held Harden to 14 points, and in his game against the Warriors, Tucker forced Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to take many poor shots.
Tucker’s game is a potential answer to the consistent problem faced by the Suns. Tucker’s energy is unparalleled, his defense is intense and he continues to improve his game. At only 884,000 dollars a year, PJ Tucker has come as quite a steal for the Suns. With only 1 year left on his contract, the Suns should be looking to resign the tenacious defender, who has become a fan favorite in Phoenix.