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Phoenix Suns Summer League Recap: The Rookies and Roster Hopefuls

We continue our Summer League wrap-up with a look at the players donning the Suns jersey for the first time: the rookies and the players auditioning for and NBA job.


The Rookies

Archie Goodwin

13.1 50.0 57.1 66.7 3.3 0.9 2.9 24.6 -4

Goodwin was the story of Summer League for the Suns. The 18-year-old was third on the team in scoring and did so with great efficiency. He shot 50 percent from the field and a blistering 57 percent from deep and got to the free-throw line almost seven times per game. He also flashed excellent defensive potential with his long arms, quick feet and great hustle.

As good as Goodwin looked, however, he still has a long way to go. The Suns reportedly see him as a point guard down the road, but he didn't show much of that in Vegas with six total assists compared to 20 turnovers. He also struggled to convert once he got to the stripe, hitting only two out of every three attempts. His shot fell for the most part, but it's still flat and his form still worries me. He might not get as many calls to go his way either once he has real NBA refs blowing the whistle. And there's the 0.3 assist-to-turnover ratio to consider as well.

But even with all the question marks, it looks like we got a good one. Goodwin's ability to get to the basket is something that can't be learned and is a solid base to build on. He's only 18 years old after all, and there is plenty of time for him to polish the rest of his game.

Alex Oriakhi

2.3 42.9 66.7 1.6 2.0 7.9 -12

Alex Oriakhi had one good game. He finished with eight points and four rebounds, shot 4-7 from the field, had three steals, recorded five personal fouls in 15 minutes and ended up +12 against Memphis. Other than that, it was a whole lotta almost nothing. Oriakhi offers a similar build to fellow Summer Sun Arinze Onuaku. He's a large, powerfully built man. However, he's more mobile than Onuaku and is a bit further along in terms of post footwork from what I saw. However, the Syracuse alumnus is far more experienced than Oriakhi and as such was higher on the depth chart. Oriakhi was basically a spot-minute and garbage time player this year for the Suns and didn't show a whole lot in the few minutes he did play.

As a second round pick (57th overall) Oriakhi does not have a guaranteed contract and is facing an uphill battle just to make the team. But GM Ryan McDonough has been watching Oriakhi throughout his career and liked him enough to draft him, so we'll see what happens.

The Roster Hopefuls

Dionte Christmas

10.1 46.3 32.1 75.0 2.7 2.0 1.0 20.9 +3

Dionte Christmas is a Summer League vet who just finished up his fourth appearance in Las Vegas/Orlando. He's been right on the cusp of making it in the NBA the last couple years since going undrafted after a standout career at Temple. He's a versatile offensive player who knows how to get buckets, and he showed that with the Suns this year averaging double-figures. He played both on and off the ball, getting to the basket, knocking down perimeter shots and even making some nice passes from time to time.

However, Christmas also showed the flaws in his game that have kept him off the NBA court. Spotty shot-selection, defensive lapses and average athleticism were all evident in his performance.

Arinze Onuaku

6.9 63.6 54.5 6.4 2.0 2.4 17.3 +15

At 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds, Onuaku is a whole lotta beef, and he showed in Vegas this year that he knows how to throw it around. Onuaku consistently carved out space for himself on both ends with his wide frame, finishing around the rim at a high rate and pulling down seemingly every available rebound. Onuaku was a tremendous rebounder in the D-League last year, and stepped it up even more with the Summer Suns averaging over 13 caroms per 36 minutes (including over four per game on the offensive end alone).

Onuaku really played to his strengths and looked good doing it. However, he also showed how limited he is. He has zero range, did not show much of a developed low post game and struggled to step away from the paint to play defense. While Onuaku's body types make him good at certain things, it also limits his ability to play basketball at the NBA level.

Chris Babb

5.0 PPG, 42.9 FG%, 57.1 3FG%, 90.0 FT%, 1.9 RPG, 14.3 MPG, +4

5.0 42.9 57.1 90.0 1.9 14.3 +4

Chris Babb was the prototype 3-and-D player at Iowa State, earning all-defensive honors from the Big 12 on a team that led the NCAA in 3-pointers last season. That's pretty much exactly who he was for the Summer Suns as well. He wasn't ever really asked to lock down the opponent's best player so we didn't see much of his defense, but he did knock down threes at a high and consistent rate throughout the Summer League. He didn't do much else, but if a team is looking for a 3-and-D player to fill out a roster then Babb isn't a bad option.

The Others

Dwayne Collins, the 60th overall pick for the Suns a couple of seasons ago who signed with a team overseas and disappeared for the last couple of years, continued to seem invisible even after joining the Suns in Vegas. He scored six points and pulled down three rebounds in just 27 total minutes of playing time over six games. Collins is apparently trying to work his way back after a knee injury, and based on his performance I don't think he's quite there yet.

Jake Cohen looks like a good option if you're up late in games and need good free-throw shooters, but other than that he's not going to do much for you. Thomas Abercrombie is a fine NBL player, but he's not an NBA player and that was pretty evident in the few minutes he played (my apologies to our Kiwi readers).

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