But old habits are hard to break, and we always want to get a glimpse into the future of the Suns rather than just the present. General Manager James Jones is not sacrificing the future of the franchise for this playoff push in any way. The young core of the team is still 24 and under with Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson all at that age, with Deandre Ayton at 22 and now Jalen Smith at age 20.
What can the man nicknamed Stix — 6’10” height, 7’2” wingspan, 225 pounds
— bring to the table? His physical profile and highlights currently remind me of the skills that Richaun Holmes and Cheick Diallo (and even Steven Hunter from SSOL days) offered: some skinny-boy rim protection, rebounding and finishing... but with the extra benefit of a very clean long-range jumper to stretch the floor. High end non-Suns comps in today’s game include guys like Myles Turner in Indiana.
Here’s a video put together by Suns fan Durag Hoops. The video really does a good job compiling interviews with James Jones, Jalen himself and commentary on what be brings to the table for the Suns.
And here is Jalen reviewing his own game with the great Mike Schmitz of ESPN. Remember watching Deandre Ayton analyze himself with Schmitz earlier this year? Now we see it with Stix.
Note the Schmitz comp to Jaren Jackson Jr. with regard to Smith’s catch-and-shoot capabilities on the move. Dude is not push-shot-Baynes out there. He’s really smooth on the slip-screen catch and shoot.
Smith sees himself as a combo 4/5 because of his stretch ability and weak side shotblocking. Of course, when the other team goes small, the Suns won’t have to play Smith and Ayton together but could trade them off all game long with guys like Jae Crowder or Cameron Johnson taking the PF position.
Yet at the same time, it’s fun when you can force the other team to match YOU, and the power and force of a Stix/Ayton pairing could be unsettling for the opponents of the Suns.
Here’s a great interview with radio guy in Maryland who used to live and work in Phoenix — he not only LOVES this pick for the Suns but he explains why and you can’t help but get excited. If you don’t have patience for the two minutes of catch-up the hosts play with each other, fast forward through it for the meat of the interview. It’s worth your time.
You might not have been excited about the pick on draft night, Suns fans, but the more I watch this kid the more I love the pick.
On top of everything else, he’s a consummate teammate and hustler that fits the mold of this Suns team to a T.
Here’s one more video in case you’re not worn out yet.