Last week, I profiled EuroLeague MVP Shane Larkin as a potential backup point guard option for the Phoenix Suns. Now it’s time to dive into another under-the-radar target for the backup point guard spot in the desert as I continue this mini-series of “backup point guard hunting”.
D.J. Augustin is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and as someone that’s proven to be a pillar of stability over the past three seasons, he’d be an excellent fit as Ricky Rubio’s backup.
He turns 33 years old this November, and Orlando figures to move in another direction with Fultz on board and with multiple holes to fill elsewhere on their roster. Another thing to note is that his agent (Raymond Brothers) is also Markelle Fultz’s agent, so it will be interesting to see if he pushes him away from (or towards) staying with his fellow PG client.
He’s currently a player that is considered a low-end starting point guard in the league, but if you shift him to a bench role, he’s suddenly giving you premium minutes as a high-end reserve for the point guard position.
Over the past 3 seasons (2017-2020), here are his per-game averages:
It’s important to note that this season he did battle a knee injury and missed some time while also posting his lowest true shooting percentage of the three season stint posted above. The efficiency dipping and injury could lead towards Orlando moving on, and Augustin realizing he may be best suited to become a “super-sub” off the bench rather than search for a starting spot in a league with immense point guard depth.
Phoenix could play that in their favor when negotiating a contract with him and land him for a reasonable price on a short-term deal.
Acquiring another veteran that has extensive playoff experience would inject some professionalism into a young Phoenix locker room. His presence would help continue to expedite the culture shift in the desert for the better.
He has played in 33 playoff games in his career and started in 6 of those games, with 5 of those starts coming last year in a 5 game series against the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
In that five game series he averaged 12.8 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.6 RPG on a ridiculous .666 true shooting percentage, including a cold blooded game-winning three pointer in game 1 of the series. Doing that against Toronto’s menacing defense is nothing to sneeze at.
Augustin missed nearly a month in January due to knee discomfort, but worked his way back into Orlando’s rotation after the All-Star Break. While his first handful of games back were (understandably) uninspiring, he did finish strong and round into form right before the season was suspended.
In his last 3 games before the suspension of the season he averaged:
19.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, 2.3 RPG on 55/53/90 shooting splits in just under 26 minutes per game.
While that is a very small sample size to work with, it should ease some concerns over his health issues that he battled earlier in the year. The Magic will also be playing in the bubble, so it will be interesting to monitor him there and track his progression during the 8-game stint.
Here he displays his plus handle and ability to apply pressure on the defense at the rim with his downhill attacking. Oh, and he also breaks some ankles of another potential guard that will show up in this series (foreshadowing here).
DJ Augustin had Shabazz FROZEN pic.twitter.com/KojU98cIFH— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 3, 2019
Along with a plus handle, Augustin is very crafty and has all the veteran tricks down by this point of his career, which he had to develop as a necessity at his size.
DJ Augustin playing made you look with Trae pic.twitter.com/XHr0XrWoxZ— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) April 5, 2019
The more NBA players, the better
This is an obvious point, but the more actual proven NBA rotation players on your bench, the better off your depth will be. Phoenix’s guard rotation (outside of Rubio and Booker) is filled with question marks, so adding a steady veteran presence to guide the second unit could make more of an impact than you’d initially think at first glance.
It’s important to note the disclaimer in this backup point guard search. If they wind up drafting a point guard then obviously their need for the bench unit shifts to the shooting guard position as far as guard depth is concerned.
It’s also very possible they may not even use their pick for themselves and ship it to another team for some immediate help, so there are many moving parts to consider with Phoenix entering this offseason.
Augustin checks a lot of boxes in terms of his leadership, feel for the game, and veteran presence along with his ability to score and spread the floor.