clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How should we take the ESPN 5-on-5 Phoenix Suns preview? With a pile of salt

ESPN comes out a little uneducated in previewing the Suns

NBA: Preseason-San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, the Worldwide Leader sicced five of its top analysts on a Phoenix Suns season preview, and the results were...odd.

On the Phoenix Suns next star, where Dragan Bender, and not Devin Booker or Marquese Chriss, holds the highest ceiling presumably because of draft order:

Bender is really the key to any possibility of the Suns skipping ahead a step or two in the rebuilding process, but he's so raw that I'm not sure that's a source of hope now.

“Booker has been explosive during the preseason so let's go with that. If he emerges from 2016-17 as a star in the making, then the Suns will have something to build from and can push Bender's development late in the season and over the summer.”

From another analyst, on who the long-term ball handler should be:

“If Booker is the future star then I'm not sure he and Bledsoe coexist over the long term. I love Knight as a third guard and don't love Ulis as a starter because of defensive concerns -- but I do like him as a spark-plug type.

So I'd see Booker paired with a 3-and-D guy to be named later -- or maybe Archie Goodwin -- with Knight and Ulis coming off the bench and Bledsoe elsewhere once his trade value is reestablished.”

Uhh, Bender has the higher ceiling than Booker, and Booker should be the team’s primary ball handler?

Interesting, indeed.

Many other answers seemed rehashed from prior seasons - bringing up trade possibilities among the guards, complaints about Sarver’s impatience - but those two snippets above were fresh doozies.

On the Suns youth movement that still boasts four 30-somethings in the lineup:

It continues to feel like the Suns are moving more backward than forward, albeit with a kind of sideways trajectory. There are some young pieces on this team to be admired -- Booker and Alex Len, possibly this year's lottery picks in Bender and Chriss.

But the three best players on the roster are veterans who aren't likely to get much better and none of them are top-25 players. The Suns still have a couple of long seasons in front of them before this all comes into focus.

That last statement is still likely true. The Suns won’t be a contender with the current roster. But the analysis is lacking in it’s simplicity of assuming Booker is no better than the fourth best player on the team, and that Chriss has a lower immediate ceiling than Bender.

On the need for more lucky draft picks to make a rebuild work:

“From where they are (23 wins last season, their fewest in 47 years), the only way is up! All kidding aside, the Goran Dragic deal for two future Miami first-round picks (one scantily protected, one entirely unprotected) is looking better by the minute. The only problem is they'll have to wait until 2021 for the latter.”

I understand that praying Miami’s draft picks end up being toward the top is a silly franchise-building proposition, but it’s not one the Suns are operating under. These guys act as if the roster isn’t stacked with enough potential talent to make up for those Miami picks ending up in the 20s. That draft capital is purely an asset at this point-- there’s not much sense in adding much more youth to this roster anyway until further decisions are made.

In summation, it’s probably best to head elsewhere for your Suns preview coverage until ESPN’s analysts start watching some games. For instance, your friendly neighborhood Suns blog, Bright Side of the Sun!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bright Side of the Sun Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Phoenix Suns news from Bright Side of the Sun