With Devin Booker sporting street clothes on the bench, today's game was without some of the juice that had been present in the first two for the Summer Suns. The refs took center stage for much of the first half, calling a combined 36 fouls in 20 minutes and stagnating the game to a snail's pace. The Suns are their best when their athletic bunch can get on the move, and it was difficult for a rhythm to be established with so many whistles.
Without his brother in arms, Tyler Ulis was relegated to being the offensive focal point, and to the surprise of no one, he did not disappoint. Ulis set the pace when he could, always appeared to be in control en route to a 16 point, 7 assist night. The gaudy steal numbers from the other night were back in action, racking up five over 35 minutes of playing time.
Tyler Ulis now has 16 assists, 14 steals and one turnover in Vegas— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) July 12, 2016
Alan Williams was surprisingly efficient in a more lucrative offensive role, pouring in 18 points and 10 rebounds, while doing most of his damage from the free throw line. For what Williams lacks in height, he makes up for in girth, and he continued to impress with a soft touch around the rim. As the 10 fouls would indicate, he got a little too happy with his hands on both ends, but I would take an aggressively active player over a passive one any day.
In an ironic turn of events, Marquese Chriss again looked like the more NBA-ready player in comparison to his running mate, Dragan Bender. Chriss' comfortability on both offense and defense seem to be growing with each game played, while Bender has gone in the opposite direction. Everything about Bender's game right now looks telegraphed; he is overly looking to get the ball to Ulis (or whoever is the intended recipient on a given action), with the end result being awkward turnovers that should never take place. The good news is that Bender knocked home three 3-pointers today, and looked better when he made quick decisions rather than thinking too much.
You could argue that Bender's struggles are in direct correlation to the odd insistence the Suns have on playing him at the three alongside Chriss and Williams. Bender's game is much more lethal when stationed as a four, and I don't think we have seen him at his best yet because he has not been put in the best position to showcase himself.
But that is what Summer League is for: Trying funky lineups and putting players in positions that they may not be best suited for just to see if something meshes. Yet after three games, I think it is safe to say that Bender should be spending more time toggling between the four and the five, rather than the three.
Stay tuned for more Summer League coverage over the course of the week.