When: 7:00 PM AZ time
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Radio: 98.7 FM
Three games into the 2017-2018 season, the Phoenix Suns are already making drastic changes. After a historic start, as far as lack of effort goes, head coach Earl Watson was fired on Sunday afternoon with Jay Triano named as interim.
With this already happening, it’s impossible to guess who will be starting for Phoenix Monday night. In the first three contests, we saw Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, and Tyson Chandler as the starters but they by far have the worst plus-minus as a rotation.
If I had to take a guess, I expect we see a ton more minutes for the likes of Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, and Tyler Ulis. The Suns’ 2016 draft picks have yet to see consistent playing time, with Ulis completely out of the rotation.
Before the season started, I talked with general manager Ryan McDonough at Las Vegas Summer League. Here’s what he had to say about the timeline and overall development of the NBA’s youngest roster heading in.
“Hopefully, there is no limit with time, it’s going to take some time,” McDonough said. “Anytime some of your most talented players between 19 through 22 or 23 years old, we’re talking about college age guys playing in a man’s league. So, I’d be foolish if we expected overnight results, but at the same time, we would like to see progress. I think how quickly we develop, along our timeline, depends on how quickly Tyler Ulis develops, Devin Booker develops, T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, on and on. I think, at the end of the day, it’s up to our young guys. We think multiple steps over the next couple of years, maybe at some point, it is step-by-step the switch flips and we get pretty good overnight. If that’s the case, I think with the age of our team, the contractual situation of our group, we have a chance to stay good for a long time after that.”
With Watson’s stubbornness of playing Chandler almost 30 minutes a game, with his lateral quickness nearly shot, that could have done him in as Bender has far and away been the team’s best defender. After Bender’s strong performance against the Lakers, he only saw four minutes against the Clippers in the first half.
With a new coach leading them, Phoenix looks to get a win in their record book against Sacramento, who has a young nucleus that is in the gelling process as well.
How should the Kings attack Phoenix’s defense tonight? They just fired their head coach yesterday, and their pick-and-roll coverage has been the worst I’ve ever seen. No kidding.
Expect a heavy dose of De’Aaron Fox in PnR actions on Bledsoe and Chandler if they still see court time together consistently.
Update, as I was writing this Bledsoe was sent home from the team facility after meeting with the team. Yes, this is actually happening.
Well, for the Kings to have success against the Suns, it might not take much. This locker room seems to be splintering, with more changes incoming.
With no Bledsoe tonight, expect to see Ulis and Mike James share point guard duties, and Booker still initiating it all. Is Bledsoe finally fed up with his role and tenure in the Valley? Sure seems like it.
If the Suns want to rally around Watson, Bledsoe, Triano or whoever and grab a win tonight, Booker and Jackson will be the keys. That is if Jackson isn’t suspended for emptying a clip on a Clippers fan on Saturday.
Also, including Warren, it will probably take a scoring effort much like we saw on Wednesday against the Lakers. All three of their forwards will have to pick up the slack with Bledsoe now away from the team.
If this season continues to be all about development, we should see a lot more minutes from all of their youth.
Could Chandler be on the way out of the rotation? Will Bledsoe be moved in the next 48 hours?
These types of things are already happening with the Suns, which does not bode well for a season that was already beginning on rocky ground. Now, the foundation is starting to cave in.
Anyways, we shall see if the Suns can rally around Triano and capture a victory tonight. After all that has happened over the last few days, a motivated roster should show up against Sacramento but we have yet to see it yet.