Wednesday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks on ESPN was a great showcase of #TheTimeline on a national stage for the young Phoenix Suns.
To be sure, it wasn’t all roses and daisies. Future All-Star Devin Booker (21 years old) was visibly hobbled by severely strained ribs and only had 11 points through three quarters. And 20 year old Dragan Bender, the youngest player on one of the league’s youngest teams, is still wallowing in a so-far unproductive career.
But there were good signs in the Suns most comfortable win of the season.
We saw 20-year old rookie Josh Jackson dominate the first half with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. For the month of January, he’s 5th among rookies in points per game (14.5) and 9th in rebounds (4.8) despite being just 15th in minutes per game for the month while playing mostly behind T.J. Warren. Given Isaiah Canaan’s injury, Jackson might get a lot more time at shooting guard the rest of the season next to Booker at point guard. We’ll see how it plays out.
And, we saw 20-year old Marquese Chriss playing like a man with a future in NBA basketball with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block.
These two kids have a ton of potential. The key turning is turning that potential into consistent production over a number of years. To think that cannot happen is folly, just as it is to assume it will. We just need to watch and wait and see what plays out.
But I couldn’t help looking at the four-man lineup of Booker, Jackson, Chriss and T.J. Warren and realizing that lineup is so versatile that you could add any player at any position to make it work. Got a point guard? Put Book at SG and slide them all down a position. Got a wing player or center? Put Book at PG and roll.
For now, let’s recognize when youth reaches milestones.
Devin Booker isn’t the only guy shouldering his way into the LeBron and KD ranks as “youngest to do this and that”.
Now Marquese Chriss is the third youngest (20 years, 215 days) in NBA history to amass 100 each of blocks, steals and three pointers. Only LeBron and KD were younger, and only Kobe Bryant did it before turning 21. Marquese has the rest of this season to add to those totals. By the end of the year, Chriss will likely have the most blocks among the four.
‘100 is an arbitrary number, you boob! How many were at 99 or 95 at one of those but hit the other(s)?’.
The list only grows by TWO more players when you lower the bar all the way to 90/90/90 before turning 21. Maurice Harkless (the cautionary tale) and Andrew Wiggins each came up just short of the 100*3 club before turning 21.
They each had 30-40 more games than Chriss, and still didn’t reach 100 in each.
‘What about other current under-21s? Don’t ignore them and pretend Quese is the only one out there with this range of skills’
Marquese Chriss and Brandon Ingram are the only current under-21s in the entire league with even 50 each of blocks, steals and three pointers.
You’d think that, with an age minimum still at 19, the only contenders for the 100*3 club would be at least halfway there by now, right?
‘But the rookies Dave. THE ROOKIES. They don’t have to be halfway there yet if they are 19 or barely 20.’
Okay, fine. But shouldn’t they be at least 1⁄3 of the way there at least?
Here’s a complete list of under-21s with at least 30 of each.
Jayson Tatum might get there. But none of the others are going to reach the 100*3 club before turning 21.
‘What does age have to do with it? How many players reached the 100*3 club within their first two seasons like Quese has, regardless of age as a rookie?’
There are only 17 players in NBA history who amassed 100 each of blocks, steals and threes within their first two NBA seasons. Chriss has played the fewest minutes per game of ANY of them, and is the third youngest on the entire list.
Vince Carter (Mr. 41), Rudy Gay (once named by Quese as his NBA idol), Nikola Mirotic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis all join Quese, LeBron, Kobe and KD as those of ANY age to reach the 100*3 club in their first two NBA seasons.
That’s quite the exclusive club.
Of course, not all of the 17 are stars. Jamario Moon, specifically, flamed out of the NBA despite these gaudy rangy stats. Others were career role players, though they used those skills to make a long career.
No matter how you slice it, Marquese Chriss is in rare company with his ability to make threes, block shots and steal passes.
‘Who cares? I can pick my nose, my butt and my ear. I’ll bet I did those three things at LEAST a 100 times this year alone.’
Yes, but so have 100 million other US residents, bub.
Yet only 17 NBA players ALL TIME have amassed 100 blocks, steals and threes in their first two years in the league.
It’s rare that one guy can protect the rim on defense while also being agile enough to deflect passes for steals AND have the offensive skillset to make the longest distance shot in the game on offense. All at a rate of almost one of each per game.
And, Quese has 131 dunks to his credit in his first 127 games. It’s a shame I can’t add that criteria to the query to make it a 100*4 club. My guess is half those 17 would drop off with a 100-dunk criteria added.
*All statistics courtesy of basketball-reference.com