The spotlight will shine bright on the Suns’ Big 3 this season.
Nationally televised games nearly every week, sometimes multiple per week. High expectations, sold-out crowds, star power, a gunslinging owner hungry to win... there will be a lot of eyes on every single move the Suns make this season.
That responsibility comes with an opportunity for the rest of the Suns’ supporting cast to make a name for themselves.
The rotation is set (more or less) after preseason and the season opener with guys settling into roles, but now the focus is on what they do with those minutes. Several key contributors will have a chance to get paid this offseason, or down the road by improving their stock, similar to what Bruce Brown did with the Nuggets last season.
*Excluded: Jusuf Nurkic, Eric Gordon
*Due to the fact that both of these players are established veterans, they will be excluded from this list. We already know who they are.
F/C- Drew Eubanks, 6’10”
I believe there will be games where Drew ends up closing over Nurkic due to his ability to protect the rim and toughness in the interior. When you factor in the foul trouble that Jusuf gets himself into, it may be more often than one would think. He can carve out space to grab rebounds, alter shots, and set solid screens.
His passing ability out of the short roll will be instrumental in his success in Phoenix’s offensive system.
This poster in their preseason finale against LA displayed some of the athleticism he brings to the table.
G- Grayson Allen, 6’4”
The newly acquired Allen is set to enter unrestricted free agency in 2024 and could be in for a big payday if he excels in his role as many expect. Phoenix will have his bird rights, but he’s the player that feels most likely to wind up getting a bag elsewhere that Phoenix cannot match.
In games that one of Booker or Beal cannot go, Allen figures to jump in the starting unit and see 30-plus minutes. Even when at full strength, Grayson should play a vital role on this team and have a chance to have one of the best seasons of his career.
F- Yuta Watanabe, 6’8”
There is no doubt that Yuta Watanabe is going to have his moments with the Phoenix Suns this season. The shooting is his main intrigue, but he has shown he is more than capable of being a competitive wing defender.
The 6’8” sniper has shown the ability to move and relocate off the ball. His combination of movement, size, and shooting will come into play throughout Phoenix’s offensive attack.
Plenty has been said about Yuta Watanabe's corner shooting but got 2 quick looks at leveraging that skill against LA. Both end of Q plays.— David (@theIVpointplay) October 21, 2023
1. LeBron engages as the low man as the PnR plays out. Job is to tag the roller if needed while guarding the corner. Subtle lift from Yuta. pic.twitter.com/tRfwMhZrxn
G/W- Josh Okogie, 6’4”
At a point last season, Josh Okogie looked to be on his way to pricing his way out of Phoenix with his stellar play. Then the 24-year-old slowed down to a sputter to close the season and that leaked into the playoffs where his playing time was cut and confidence was lost.
The good news for Josh is that he is still just 25 years old and his skillset is desperately needed on a championship team. He will have plenty of opportunity, but now it’s about what he does with it. Can he shoot consistently? Will he be able to bring the ball up the court with confidence? If the handle and shooting are there, we all know the defense and energy is a given.
G- Jordan Goodwin, 6’4”
Goodwin came to Phoenix in the Bradley Beal trade as an afterthought, and there is a very good chance he will wind up being an important role player for the squad. The energy brought by him and Okogie off the bench in the preseason was electric and could be a staple in Phoenix's identity to shred the narrative they cannot defend.
Read/watch Stephen’s piece on Goodwin here: Jordan Goodwin’s Preseason Film Study
Wrote about Jordan Goodwin's preseason showings in my latest with @BrightSideSun— Stephen PridGeon ☯️ (@StayTrueSDot3) October 22, 2023
Positives, flaws, + how his dynamic in activity at the POA & support (especially being *stingy* at the nail) can be a floor raiser for lineups he's featured in
READ: https://t.co/5SuNrF7SIY pic.twitter.com/M4l07XQ65R
F- Keita Bates-Diop, 6’8”
The hype train for KBD has cooled a bit after a slow preseason where he didn’t necessarily meet the high expectations Suns fans had set on him. That being said, he still certainly has an opportunity to carve out an important role for Phoenix.
In 5 preseason games, he posted 5.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 1.0 SPG with a shooting split of 39/33/71 in 19 minutes per contest. Phoenix needs a bigger forward to step up, and all eyes will be on KBD to fill that role.
He received a DNP in the Suns’ opener, but like Metu, I expect him to eventually get a shot.
F- Nassir Little, 6’5”
Little may not be the ideal height that Phoenix is looking for in times they need to go bigger or defend bigger forwards, but his 7’2” wingspan certainly helps. Whenever they need a spark off the bench, if it’s not Jordan Goodwin or Josh Okogie providing that relentless energy, it’ll be Little. Or maybe all three of them at the same time. It’s nice to have options.
He showcased his ability to do a little bit of everything in the preseason finale against the Lakers, and hopefully, he carries that momentum over into the regular season.
Nassir Little had an impressive performance tonight for the Suns. Competitive defense all game. Showed different layers to his offense. Could end up an important do-it-all role player with Phoenix. pic.twitter.com/GLr1ea0fd8— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 20, 2023
Dark Horse: Chimezie Metu
I enjoyed some of the flashes from Metu in the preseason, and think he could be a candidate to play meaningful minutes at some point this season. We may see him paired with Nurkic or Eubanks in certain lineups, but some small ball five is certainly in play as well.
He did not record any playing time in the season opener, but he will have a shot sooner than later. It’s a long season.