According to Jordan Schultz, who admittedly has not gotten much Suns inside info right in the past few years, reported today that Dusan Ristic will play for the Phoenix Suns Summer League team next month.
#Arizona C Dusan Ristic is playing with the #Suns summer league team, #UVA F Isaiah Wilkins with the #Rockets and #Vanderbilt F Jeff Roberson with the #Warriors, agent @ChrisPatrickJr has informed me.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) June 23, 2018
As you all know, Ristic was a four-year player at University of Arizona under Sean Miller. He developed over time, and got lots of playing time his last two years in the program (progressed from 8 minutes per game to 16 to 22 to 27 last year)
Last season, he averaged 12.2 point and 6.9 rebounds and half a block per game playing center, his only viable position on an NBA court. With talent limitations across the UofA roster, Ristic’s presence as one of the team’s better players forced Miller to play him big minutes and move star prospect Deandre Ayton down a spot to the 4 (power forward) for much of last season.
Ristic has some scoring skills inside, with both hands, and can use his body to block out and rebound. He doesn’t bring much else to the table.
He was a fan favorite in Tucson though. Ristic expressed his appreciate of their love when his eligibility ran out in early April.
U of A has always supported Dusan, hoping he would get drafted last week in the NBA Draft. He was not drafted.
The winningest player in program history embodied the #APlayersProgram mantra as good as any before him and now he’s set to make a statement in the #NBADraft.— Arizona Athletics (@AZATHLETICS) June 19, 2018
Tucson has your back, @ristic_dusan! #BearDown pic.twitter.com/CxH7V4eYeW
Now the question is: will Dusan Ristic just push Ayton back to the 4 again????
At least that’s my logical answer.
The Suns are expecting power forwards Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss to make themselves available for any and all summer league games that new coach Igor Kokoskov wants.
It is vitally important for Bender and Chriss to play next to Ayton, just to see what kind of fit they can have together.
Yet, the signing of Ristic is likely as the backup plan for those young guys.
It’s possible one or both of Bender and Chriss are traded by July 6, the first game in Vegas.
And it’s possible Deandre Ayton won’t play all five games. Generally, teams sit out their best players after the first three games just to avoid injury and get better looks at others.
And that’s not even considering any minor strains of sprains among those three, at which point the Suns would shut the player(s) down anyway.
So, consider Ristic a backup option that might get more play in the second weekend of games than on opening weekend.
And don’t expect Ristic and Ayton to share the floor much, if at all.
My thoughts on opening weekend in Vegas, with the Suns facing Dallas (maybe Doncic?) and Sacramento on back-to-back nights:
- C: Ayton (Rookie), Ristic (R)
- PF: Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss
- SF: Josh Jackson, Bridges
- SG: Mikal Bridges (R), Davon Reed, Danuel House
- PG: Elie Okobo (R), George King, Tyler Ulis, Shaq Harrison