Every game that goes by, it appears that the high ceiling on Marquese Chriss future with the Phoenix Suns is becoming more and more clear.
After most of the preseason, Chriss leads all NBA rookies in minutes (27), points (13.6), points in the paint (8.4), field goal attempts (11.8), rebounds (6.2) and offensive rebounds (2.8).
Yes, this is only preseason. And yes, he’s 19 19 and not 19 going on 20, so Chriss will have as many lowlights this year as highlights while he enjoys his last teenage year on the planet.
He leads all rookies in fouls committed per game (4.0) and his rebound rate (percentage of total rebounds he gets when in the game) is a pedestrian 11.8%, which puts him in Markieff Morris range and wayyyy behind Amare Stoudemire (15.9% as a rookie). Among big men on last year’s Suns squad, he would have only beaten out Mirza Teletovic and no one else. So he still has work to do in that area, and to be fair he’s better than Dragan Bender, Jared Dudley and T.J. Warren in rebounding.
But where he doesn’t need any work is with his self-confidence and body control when he’s making plays.
Take a look at how he slips down the lane to make himself available for Bledsoe’s lob.
He doesn’t just dunk though.
Let’s look at a blocked shot. What’s really impressive is how he not only blocked this shot, but he blocked it toward a couple of teammates rather than jacking the ball out of bounds (and giving it back to the offense) like most blocks.
And if you’re missing the bad boy image that the Morris brothers brought to the Suns, wishing only that image was wrapped into a more fan-friendly package, look no further than Marquese Chriss.
Here he is just shrugging Andrew Bogut when they got tangled up.
“I wasn’t intimidated or anything,” Chriss said of going against Bogut. “I wasn’t going to back down. I am who I am.”
On Friday night alone, filling in at center with Tyson Chandler and Alex Len both out, Chriss had a couple of dunks and three three-pointers, while on the other end mixing in FOUR blocks. He can also hit the mid-range shot, and has an array of post and spin moves with a good scoring touch.
Chriss has shown plenty of moxie this preseason and has enough alpha tendencies to make himself a force in the front court for many years to come.