Starting Monday with Media Day and then Tuesday with training camp, the Phoenix Suns finally begin their 50th season as a franchise after a long, slow summer.
When your most experienced and highly paid acquisition of the off season is Troy Daniels, you’re decidedly not swinging for the playoff fences like the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Backup shooting guard decided
After July, the Suns best options at backup shooting guard behind Devin Booker were rookies Josh Jackson, Davon Reed and Peter Jok. That's what’s called a question mark.
While Jackson is multi-talented and Reed and Jok were good shooters in college, who knows what a rookie will actually bring the lineup? Besides, Jackson is slotted for mostly forward minutes, and Reed is now injured and out for about half the season.
Of course, some lineups would also feature one of the backup point guards, Mike James or Tyler Ulis, next to Eric Bledsoe. And other lineups would have T.J. Warren or Derrick Jones Jr. in the shooting guard role. But James and Ulis are too small to be successful with consistent shooting guard minutes, and Warren and Jones just simply can’t stretch the floor with any kind of consistent long-range shooting touch.
So in comes Troy Daniels.
Yes, that Troy Daniels.
And here’s Devin talking about him post-game.
With Phoenix, Daniels is now on his 5th NBA team in 5 seasons after stints with Houston, Minnesota, Charlotte and the afore-mentioned Memphis.
Daniels, under contract for two more seasons for about $3.5 million per year, is unlikely to be a long-term solution for the Suns. He brings the best career three-point shooting percentage on the team (40.6% on 3.8 attempts per game), but he can’t play defense and doesn’t bring much more than shooting.
At least he knows his strengths. In four seasons, he has a higher shooting percentage from behind the arc (40.6%) than from point blank range of 0-3 feet (38%), so it makes sense that 71% of his career shots are from three.
Here’s a couple highlight reels of Daniels from last season.
*stats courtesy of Basketball-reference.com
The hope is that Davon Reed develops into the 3-and-D guy who profiles as the perfect skill compliment to Booker. But at least this year, Daniels provides insurance and a necessary shooting threat on the wing to help the Suns offense.
Alex Len’s role reprised
Almost certainly, Alex Len will sign his $4.2 million qualifying offer before Media Day officially starts at 10am on Monday.
And with Alan Williams’ meniscus injury likely costing him most of the 2017-18 season, Len will once again reprise his role as tantalizing but entirely frustrating backup center to the aging Tyson Chandler.
By signing his qualifying offer, Len will have veto rights on any mid-season trade. And he WILL likely use them. Any trade of Len after signing the offer would make Len forfeit his Bird Rights, meaning that the acquiring team would not have any ability to exceed the salary cap to retain him with a fair contract no matter how well he plays. Given that only a handful of teams project to have cap space of any kind next summer, Len would likely be forfeiting his only chance at a multi-year contract if he accepts a trade from the Suns.
So get used to Len on the Suns sideline as he and the Suns hope to break his pattern of 42% shooting seasons every other year.
Len has the skills needed to succeed at center in the NBA. He just needs to start playing more on instinct on the offensive end, and use his great length to score at the basket. He too often appears to think he’s a six-foot guard down there, protecting the ball with his body rather than rising up and keeping the ball over everyone’s outstretched hands.
I hope for Alex’s sake this is a very good season for him and he finds his role as an old-school center option for another half-dozen years in the NBA. Yes, there’s a place for old school big men in today’s NBA. The Finals-hunting Cavaliers just signed the ancient Kendrick Perkins, for chrissake.
Really? Anthony Bennett?
Leave it to former Bright Side contributors and current twitter ranters Scott and Sreekar to succinctly frame Anthony Bennett’s signing this past week.
Someone to help Alex Len feel better about himself and his standing in the 2013 Draft https://t.co/Ll0PMGg8GX— Scott Howard (@ScottHoward42) September 22, 2017
Nothing gets me more excited for the season than knowing the Suns now have the two worst players from the top 6 picks in the 2013 NBA draft https://t.co/k4wdytwnrK— sreekar (@sreekyshooter) September 22, 2017
On Friday, the Suns signed former #1 overall pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Anthony Bennett.
Relax, Suns fans. Word is that the Suns only intend to have to Bennett join the NAZ Suns G-league team to kick off the season, rather than compete for minutes on the big club. The Suns want to help Bennett revive his NBA career, and have his national team head coach, Jay Triano, on staff to support the cause.
More Bright Side coverage than ever!
I’m excited to announce that the Phoenix Suns have awarded TWO full-season media credentials to Bright Side this year.
Both Evan Sidery and I will be attending most/all of the games this season. Evan is even going to post a few dispatches from Flagstaff’s training camp and Prescott’s open scrimmage this week!
In addition, we’ll have a half-dozen of us at Media Day tomorrow, including me, Evan, Deadpoolio, Jim Coughenour, Brendon Kleen and our new site editor, Courtneyna. Courtneyna works magic in the background to help me edit and schedule out our coverage every day.