Voting is in for the top five players on the Suns roster right now. And the best news is that four of those five are under contract for at least two more seasons if not longer than that. By contrast, the last good Suns team from 2013-14 had three of their top four players entering free agency when the season ended, and the fourth had only one year left on his deal.
The top players on this team have time to grow together as they push their way into the playoffs.
Here’s where we are so far...
- Devin Booker
- Deandre Ayton
- Ricky Rubio
- Mikal Bridges
- Kelly Oubre Jr.
All-Star Devin Booker is locked up for four more seasons, while Ricky Rubio has two more seasons left. Sophomores Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges still have two more years on rookie-scale deals that now look like bargains — quite a pleasant development for a team that dumped three top-eight picks from 2016 and 2017 before their third season even started! The fifth player in the top five, Kelly Oubre Jr., has a year left on his deal.
Let’s compare the top five players from that 2014 off-season to this year’s top five. (I’m only stopping at five because that’s how far we’ve gotten on this year’s SunsRank)
That was a really fun 48-34 team in 2013-14 wasn’t it? Unfortunately, as soon as the season ended the contract negotiations had to begin. As you recall, Channing Frye was allowed to leave for a big raise (replaced, in effect, by Isaiah Thomas), while the Suns prioritized Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker from among the top tier. On top of that, they had to worry about spending the very next summer on Goran Dragic and Gerald Green, as well as the Morrii’s pending restricted free agency.
Here’s a fun fact: the only player among the top ten from that 2013-14 team with two or more years left before free agency: Miles Plumlee.
All I’m saying here is that it’s nice to know the Suns won’t be dealing with any free agent losses or long holdouts over contract angst this offseason.
Without further ado, now’s your turn to vote on your 6th-best player on the Suns roster!
Cameron Johnson, Forward, Age 24
Ranks on the Suns: 39% 3PT (3rd), 4.8 3PA/g (3rd), 56.5% Effective FG (4th), 58.6% True Shooting (6th)
The case for Johnson: The rookie has the chance to be a special shooter. And as he showed throughout the year and especially in the Bubble, his defense is far better than expected coming out of North Carolina. That coupled with his improving play-making and efficient decision-making show a player who is a perfect fit alongside a core of Booker, Ayton and Bridges.
The case against Johnson: There’s a chance we’re seeing his ceiling. Of course SunsRank is just a snapshot in time, but this is also a young, building team so inherently we’re going to always project forward. Where might Johnson get better? On the margins, I’d like to see him improve attacking closeouts and finishing, but we basically saw a best-case scenario for Johnson’s rookie season, making it hard to guess where he gets better next.
Dario Saric, Big, Age 26
Ranks on the Suns: 24.7 Min/g (6th), 3.6 3PA/g (5th), 35.7% 3P (6th), 6.2 Reb/g (3rd), 1.9 Ast/g (6th), 55.4% eFG (6th)
The case for Saric: What we saw in the Bubble was magnificent. Saric put together the best stretch of his career over the course of 11 total games in Orlando, looking like a bona fide modern backup big man who can hold his own on defense, make his teammates better, and create his own shot from the perimeter.
The case against Saric: The limitations we saw throughout most of the regular season are real, too. Saric is not much of an athlete and needs to be empowered in the right role to make a real impact for his team. It seems like Williams is the right coach to do that, but Saric limits the versatility of your roster and when we factor in that he’s also about to get more expensive, it’s a tough sell.
Aron Baynes, Big, Age 33
Ranks on the Suns: 22.2 Min/g (8th), 11.1 Pts/g (5th), 4.0 3PA/g (4th), 35.1% 3P (10th), 5.6 Reb/g (4th), 0.5 Blks/g, 55.8% eFG (5th)
The case for Baynes: Seems like a lifetime ago, but this guy was a revelation to start the year. Baynes was one of the top Suns in a 7-4 start before suffering injury, making 50% of his threes and providing tough defense at the rim as the Suns started the year in the top 5 on both offense and defense for a couple weeks. And then after a scuffling mid-season, he broke out for that 37-point outing (NINE threes) in a win over Portland just before the pandemic hit. Baynes was a major factor in Ayton’s defensive growth this year too, along with the coaching staff and Ayton’s own renewed focus. If we had done SunsRank in Dec 2019, Baynes might have made it into the top two.
The case against Baynes: We left the big Aussie off the list until now largely because of the injury issues this year (missed 31 of 73 games) and being unable to play in the Bubble when the Suns were at their best — which was a boon for Dario. When Baynes did play, you could argue that he was healthy for the first 11 games and then hobbled or ineffective for the rest of them. Not Baynes’ fault for sure - but something to consider in ‘best player’ rankings.
Make your voice heard!
Who is the Suns SIXTH best player, first off the bench?
This poll is closed
Someone else (add in the comments)