Entering the 2021 playoffs, the Phoenix Suns were already in talks of losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, due to the size matchup. After Deandre Ayton proved he can show up big in needed moments series after series, the finals showed that size might still be an issue when he was on the bench.
Other concerns for the Suns started to show up when losing four games in a row to the Milwaukee Bucks. Another shot creator, a back-up big, and looking into the future, a back-up guard might be in need.
Size is an issue heading into next season. It was an issue before the playoffs started and it was an issue in the finals. But when you think about the size and if it would have effected the outcome in the series vs the Milwaukee Bucks, trying to stop Giannis with an 8-foot man would not of made a difference.
A couple rebounds here and there would help, but the loose balls and long rebounds would not have been going the Suns way when it all had to do with positioning.
The Suns were a team in the regular season that won a lot of the 50-50 balls and also during the first three rounds of the playoffs. To me, size does not matter in that situation, but a back up big to help when Ayton is not in the game would be greatly appreciated.
There were times during the series when Monty Williams would try and sneak Ayton out of the game when Giannis was still in and Giannis became even more uncontrollable. These would be the spots when the Suns size hurt them.
Playing against an injured Davis Lakers team in the first round was admittedly a gift for the Suns. Playing against Davis might have ended in the same result as playing against Giannis. A loss. These players are superstars in their own realm and are hard to contain. Making every offensive possession very delicate. A wasted turnover or even the inability to crash the offensive glass are the opportunities lost, giving a player like Davis and Giannis even more of an edge.
The edge would be mental. A team, like the Suns, knowing they don’t have the size to compete, will begin to ware at them mentally. Knowing they need to make up the difference in other ways like- team rebounding, three point shots, and attacking the basket to try and draw the foul.
Size will most likely be addressed this off-season and should be the first priority. A competent big that can be the answer for 15-20 mins off the bench.
Again, looking at the Champs, and what they were able to do in clutch minutes played by Khris Middleton, another shot creator is something to look at.
To add a player like a Middleton, it would cost the Suns. This would only be an option if Chris Paul wanted to leave for LA to play with LeBron James. We hope that is not an option.
A player like DeMar DeRozan or even Kawaii Leonard is a perfect fit but out of reach with the current salary sitting with the Suns. We do have Devin Booker, and if he were to return, Paul is another shot-creator. But they are smaller.
Booker has been very good in getting his shot off, but when it comes to getting into the lane to draw contact, both he and Paul struggled. A player that can get to the rim and draw the contact when all else is failing is something the Suns missed all season long.
Length is where it matters when drawing contact. It is stupid to say, but the longer the are, the more contact a player can draw and the more a ref can see.
Back-up point guard
Cameron Payne is now an unrestricted free-agent. Big money might be coming his way, and to replace what he brought the Suns with play-making and shot-creating.
The Ringer has the Suns selecting Tennessee point guard Jaden Springer. I like the thought of these guards coming in with something to prove and the fight that a lot of them will have.
A better option than paying Payne might be to bet on the draft. A draft that is now seen as deep.
An unproven rookie to come in and take on a big role in the guard position might be something of the past. But Payne was unproven and even a labeled a bust at one time. This is where you warm yourself with trust. Trusting James Jones keeps entering my thoughts when feeling down about a finals loss. Trusting him to make the right moves with Payne and what is needed to fill in the minutes behind Paul, is something I can get behind. It eases the mind.
These are all things to look at. A back up big is a must, but again, I trust Jones and the front office to have this team as title contenders next season.