A year ago, University of Miami alum Davon Reed appeared to be a long-term potential fit behind or next to Devin Booker in the wing rotation after the Suns surprised many around the league to take Reed with the 32nd overall pick.
Reed is perfectly sized for a two-guard with 7’0” wingspan and quick hands and feet for defense, along with good ball handling and 40% three-point shooting for offense. He had big shotmaking ability on catch-and-shoot, and also showed occasional off-the-bounce shooting and driving chops as well.
On the downside, Reed took four full years to develop into a solid NBA prospect, only becoming his team’s main offensive threat in year four. Reed was the Canes’ 5th leading scorer in his freshman and sophomore seasons and 3rd leading scorer as a junior before becoming their top scorer as a senior. His teammates were good, but none became NBA players.
When Reed became available for the NBA draft after his senior year, he was projected as a mid-to-late second rounder — not much different than George King this year, though King is more of a big man in a smaller man’s body while Reed is clearly a part-time ball handler and full time wing shooter.
Here’s a highlight reel of Reed at Miami.
I was excited to have Reed on the team, and hopeful he could bring some maturity and moxie, and defense, to the Suns rotation last year year.
But Reed’s rookie season in the NBA was a washout.
He suffered an injured knee before training camp and barely played as a rookie while trying to recover his quickness. Worse yet, he made less than 30% of his threes at three different levels — summer league, G-League NAZ Suns, and the big club — leaving to question not only his ability to defend but also his ability to keep defenses honest on the other end.
You simply can’t reserve an NBA future for a guy who doesn’t make shots or stop the opponent from making theirs.
So the Suns gave Reed more competition this year in draftees Mikal Bridges and George King, and asked him to fight for his roster spot in Summer League.
And fight he did.
New coach Igor Kokoskov gave Reed and fellow second year man Shaquille Harrison the reins in Summer League to make or break their futures, and they made it.
Reed was one of the team’s best overall players, second in points (13.4), third in assists (3) and even fourth in rebounds (4.4) for the 4-1 Suns.
Now Reed is guaranteed his second season on a league-minimum deal, giving him a leg up on Shaquille Harrison (only 50k guaranteed) and George King (two-way contract) on grabbing a rotation spot next season for the Suns.
Breaking down available minutes, regardless of the wackiness of the lineups, Reed is fighting for what’s left on the wing behind Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren.
Those main three will likely play 70-75 of the 96 minutes available at the two wing positions (assuming Jackson and Warren get some time as the small-ball four*, and Booker gets sniffs at point guard).
*Counting minutes gets messy because of interchangeable positions, so I’m only talking about the positions Reed could occupy. He won’t be the point guard or the power forward in any lineup, so I’m only considering the SG/SF minutes here. I am assuming that Warren and Jackson get at least 25 minutes on the court each night, while Booker gets 35 a night. Some of those minutes will be with all three on the court at once, pushing one to another minutes-slot, which I personally designated as about 10 minutes a game where all three play at once. You can quibble, but we don’t really know any more than that yet. For this analysis, these three will occupy about 75 of the 96 wing minutes Reed wants. Make sense?
Assuming there’s about 25 minutes a night left of wing minutes, let’s analyze which player(s) might get those minutes.
Reed is fighting for time against Shaquille Harrison (when he’s not the point), rookie Mikal Bridges and veteran Troy Daniels.
- Harrison already brings the spirited defense the Suns wanted in Reed, but can’t shoot the rock at all
- Daniels shoots the rock the way the Suns want in Reed, but can’t defend a folding chair and can’t handle the ball
- Bridges could maybe do both — shoot and defend — but does not yet look able to put the ball on the floor like Reed can (see highlights above) and might need a year to adjust to the NBA game
If Reed comes to training camp and preseason showing his senior-level (and summer-level) ability to defend, makes threes and occasionally play-make, he should be able to earn minutes over Harrison and Daniels.
Rookie #10 overall pick Mikal Bridges is the wild card that could force Reed to the end of the bench and potentially into anonymity as an NBA player.
What’s funny is that Bridges has nearly the same flight path in college as Reed did, except better.
Both profile similarly, except Bridges is two inches taller (6’7” versus 6’5”), a bit longer (7’+ versus 7’0”) and a bit younger (22 versus 23 years old this season).
Both took several years of college to become a main option on their team, except Bridges ascended faster. Mikal became a Top-10 worthy pick after THREE years versus Reed’s Top-60 worthiness after four.
Both became known for their defense and shotmaking, but Bridges did it on a two-time NCAA Champion Villanova while Reed did it for the lesser-talented Canes.
Bridges scored better, rebounded better and defended better than Reed at the college level.
and here he is at Summer League, where he played a smaller role than Davon Reed.
Both finished their NCAA careers with about the same profile: mature
old shooter and defender who doesn’t profile much higher than an elite role player.
Neither was a sure-fire one-and-done NBA prospect like teammates Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, Devin Booker or Marquese Chriss.
Both Bridges and Reed would love to have teammate Trevor Ariza’s 15-year career, including his last 9 as a full-time starter on deep playoff teams and World Champs.
It remains to be seen who of Reed or Bridges will have a better NBA career, and it remains to be seen who will be more effective in the 2018-19 season.
Both took time in college to adjust and excel, so it’s possible Reed will do better this year than Bridges if they repeat that pattern in the pros.
In a perfect world, Bridges and Reed BOTH play so well that they push Jackson or Warren into more minutes at the four (which squeezes Ariza, Chriss and Bender) or Booker into the point guard role more often (which squeezes Brandon Knight and Elie Okobo).
But the more likely scenario is that they are fighting for a share of about 25 minutes a night, even if the Suns release Troy Daniels.
Who do you think will win out?
Who gets more playing time in the 2018-19 season?
This poll is closed