Some of the highlights of the 2016-17 season for the Phoenix Suns came above the rim, and most of that high-flying stuff came from two sources: rookies Marquese Chriss and Derrick Jones Jr.
Most of you hate nicknames as much as I do, but the very best nickname in the NBA in my opinion is #AirplaneMode for Derrick Jones Jr. I love that name, and I really hope I get to shout it out for years to come.
Marquese Chriss doesn’t have much of a nickname yet. Friends call him Quese, but that’s just a bit bland. I’ve seen MC Slammer and MC Hammer, but those are kinda weak IMO. Maybe we just leave this one alone. Quese is it.
Since Amare and Shawn left more than half-decade ago, the Suns have had few in-game acrobatics that get fans to their feet. Gone were the days of Amare Stoudemire tea-bagging unfortunate defenders on the break (sorry Anthony Tolliver) or Shawn Marion flying in from the back to finish a jam on an oop.
In those days, the acrobatic tramp-using Solar Squad’s rim rattling dunks during timeouts where almost an afterthought. But in recent years, they only served as a reminder of what’s missing from the Suns roster.
Now some of that is back. And it’s here to stay at least with rookies Marquese Chriss, an All-Rookie candidate, and hopefully possibly Derrick Jones Jr., who finished second in the All-Star weekend Dunk Contest.
Both players are explosive. And as they mature (Chriss is only 19 while Jones Jr. recently turned 20), they will find more and more ways to dazzle the audience.
Check out their best dunks of the season here.
Do we know for sure that DJJ is a long-term NBA player? No we don’t. He can’t shoot and doesn’t have natural finishing capability on layups, but he has shown enough defensive chops and activity around the rim to make himself a player so far.
My big hope is that someday Airplane Mode will get the ball on the break with a single defender in front of him trying to draw a charge and Jones Jr. will simply use his hops to jump completely over the defender to finish at the rim.
Think he can’t do it? Think again.
AIRPLANE MODE ACTIVATED
And you can bet NBA don’t want to be on that poster either. Go back up to watch the dunk highlight reel and you’ll see Dwyane Wade kindly step out of DJJ’s way on a break at one time. Looked like he was actively trying to run away from the poster.