Welcome to the 2021-22 Phoenix Suns Season Preview series, starting with individual PLAYER PREVIEWS. We go through the roster, recapping last year and analyzing how they can help the Suns in their upcoming championship push.
The emphasis is different this year. We are no longer laser-focused on the highest upside, or praying for highlight endorphin spikes. Instead, we are looking to how this almost-the-same roster will perform a year older, a year wiser, a year more physically mature.
Let’s continue working our way through the roster.
Forward, 6’5” tall, 225 pounds, 28 years old on 9/25
“Pyramid Papi” appeared in only one-third of the Suns’ regular season (24 games out of 72 possible) and only 5 playoff games due to a knee injury.
In just 14.8 minutes per game, he was a solid contributor when healthy and had a career year offensively while being adored by Monty.
If only he played each contest like it was against the Golden State Warriors, people would love “Cairo Irving” even more. In those two games last season, he nailed 3 triples and posted 30 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block in 49 total minutes of action.
- Overall grade as an NBA player: C-
- Relative grade to preseason expectations: C-
Abdel Nader is running it back with the Suns for 2 more years pic.twitter.com/XV5BFx2OFp— Suns Nation (@SunsNationCP) August 3, 2021
The Suns re-signed Nader on August 3rd to a two-year, $4.2 million deal at slightly more than the veteran minimum using his ‘bird rights’. The second year is a team option.
As a 3-and-D guy that plays both forward positions, being 6-foot-5 hampers what he would like to be able to do. P.J. Tucker made it work for him but Nader is playing with a slighter 225-pound frame and has an injury history, most recently with his knee while in Phoenix.
He fills a need as a shooter (41.9% on 1.8 attempts last season), can slash and get to the line (.319 FT rate last season) and plays good defense on the wings and against smaller forwards.
One Key Factor
“Doolie” is loved by Coach Monty and well-liked by fans, Torrey Craig departed for the Indiana Pacers and the Suns have yet to fill that other backup forward spot. The “Egyptian Sensation” has a real chance to have even more of a role this upcoming season.
There is a reason he was brought back, showing he wasn’t just a throw in when the Suns acquired the Point God. Barring another move, those minutes as the other forward off the bench will be up for grabs between him and Jalen Smith.
Although many would like to see Jalen start getting his run and I am certainly not opposed to that or bringing in another veteran forward, the answer may have been under our noses this whole time.
Show us your stuff, Abdel. Let’s go!