One of the few bright spots in the Phoenix Suns 2012-13 season was the emergence of P.J. Tucker as a wing defender and opportunistic offensive player. Now, he will return for the 2013-14 season as one of the few steady, predictable players on what promises to be a very young squad.
While other veterans leave, the Suns have decided to keep both free agents Shannon Brown and P.J. Tucker from last year's squad on the wing.
The 6'5" Tucker can play either wing position. He will fight for minutes over Bledsoe/Dragic, Archie Goodwin, Brown, Michael Beasley and Marcus Morris next season.
Each night, Tucker would take on the opponent's best offensive threat, no matter how tall or short. He guarded point guards through small forwards. He was not always effective (no one else on the Suns was either), but he was always willing to body up them up, get in their back pocket and try to wear them down by the end of the game. They knew who Tucker was.
Offensively, Tucker was often offensive. He can handle the ball and drive to the hoop, though he can't shoot and he can't really elevate over a defender. But he scores opportunistically - on put-backs, fast breaks and the occasional three pointer from the corner. But by the end of the season, opponents were regularly ignoring Tucker on offense and playing the Suns' other four guys with five defenders, making life very tough on Dragic.
Still, Tucker made up for all that with hustle and commitment.
After Lance Blanks' team discovered and signed him, he became a Dan Majerle favorite during summer league. You might remember my article on him last year predicting his fan-favoritism.
Once the season began, Tucker went from 12th man to fan favorite to starter in a matter of months.
He was an Alvin Gentry favorite and then a Lindsey Hunter favorite. None could resist P.J. Tucker. The coaches couldn't bench him. Opponents respected him. Players loved him.
P.J. Tucker is definitely one of a kind, but you can always count on his best effort. He has been hanging out at the Suns arena (along with Shannon Brown and the three Ms) and has already committed to the Suns summer league squad, making him an early favorite of new coach Jeff Hornacek as well.
All hail the return of P.J. Tucker!