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Imagining the 2018-19 season if the Suns spent their money on JJ Redick instead of Trevor Ariza

Exploring one realistic either/or proposition that went the wrong way for the Suns.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly into training camp this past season, JJ Redick said on an ESPN podcast that the Suns aggressively pursued him in the lead-up to July free agency.

With the season in the rearview and the man to whom Phoenix gave their spending money last summer, Trevor Ariza, long gone, it’s worth wondering how things may have been different if the Suns signed Redick last summer.

Firstly, our closest comparison to how greatly shooting helped the Suns’ offense is Troy Daniels, and looking at his on/off numbers paints a stark picture of how Redick could have helped the Suns score.

Here’s how it broke down this year when Booker played:

Devin Booker on, Troy Daniels off: 108.6 ORtg, 116.1 DRtg

Devin Booker on, Troy Daniels on: 119.9 ORtg, 117.5 DRtg

Booker on overall: 109.6 ORtg, 116.2 DRtg

It’s incredible to see it there, plain and clear like that. Daniels shot 38 percent from deep this year compared with 40 percent last year and his playing time was far more inconsistent yet his impact remained.

This also presents further evidence that until there is premier playmaking at the point guard spot next to Booker, putting Booker at point with shooting around him remains one of the Suns’ best options. It also begs us to wonder whether the Point Book lineups might be even better with elite shooters and render the need for a star point guard lesser.

On the other hand:

JJ Redick on: 112.8 ORtg (+2.0 better than 76ers’ overall offense), 106.8 DRtg (-7.8 overall)

Redick too suffered from a downtick in 3-point shooting as his volume shot up drastically, but his statistical impact remained clear. Throughout the year, Philadelphia could lean on the Redick-Joel Embiid two-man game when its halfcourt offense short-circuited.

If that isn’t enough for the Suns to regret their decision, Ariza’s numbers from his time in Phoenix will seal the deal:

Trevor Ariza on: 100.4 ORtg, 115.4 DRtg

Now, it’s unfair to quite peg the Suns’ dysfunction early in the year on Ariza. He is a floor-raiser and a clear role player, unable to create his own shot or change too much on defense as a small forward. Most of his minutes were linked with Isaiah Canaan.

As is almost always true, showing the numbers of a player on a good team against a guy from a putrid team is going to favor the former. Yet the difference is so massive that combined with Daniels’ impact, it certainly indicates Redick would have been a better decision in free agency for the Suns.

The Ariza signing also came just weeks after the franchise’s decision to give up their most-prized asset, the 2021 Miami first-round pick, for Mikal Bridges, whose skill set and positional fit overlaps almost entirely with that of Ariza. It was puzzling as early as opening night when, despite a win, Bridges played just 16 seconds.

The confusion only mounted as Bridges played well and Ariza trended the other direction.

This summer, Phoenix has limited cap space once again and will likely only be able to nab one player in free agency unless they move players already under contract. That means they could be facing another decision between two different types of players.

They incorrectly analyzed what they needed and how Ariza would play last July. It may not be Redick who they covet this time around, but the value of shooting and floor-spacing shows up in Daniels’ value as well as Redick’s for the 76ers.

It’s instructive of how the Suns should approach transactions this summer.

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