The Phoenix Suns have a few days off following the completion of the In-Season Tournament. Yes, just as Adam Silver planned, the Los Angeles Lakers won the inaugural IST, which gave it the validity and exposure that it wanted. Slow clap, slow clap.
With the downtime that the Suns are receiving, so too comes rest. Although they lost to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, it was at home. Their next game isn’t until Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors — also at home — as a part of what is now a five-game home stand. There’s nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed.
Seeing as there is some downtime, I felt it was a good opportunity to take a snapshot look at the Phoenix Suns’ roster and whether their stock is up, down, or holding. You know this schtick. You hope that no one is falling as hard as crypto-currency. Who would ever name their stadium after a crypto company? That would be foolish.
A player’s stock, if you will, may be seen in a multitude of ways since it incorporates both factual and subjective factors, such as performance and expectations. I’ll do my best to provide the reasons why I believe a player's stock is up, down, or holding, and I am excited to see how you think each player is doing.
Phoenix has 17 players rostered, so I am going to break this into a three-part series over the next couple of days just so you can absorb all the information and so I don’t have to spend 8 hours writing it.
So without further do, starting alphabetically, here are your risers and followers through the Suns' first 22 games.
Grayson Allen: Stock ↑
GA came to Phoenix with a reputation as an overly aggressive and dirty player. In our short time with him, we've witnessed someone who is surprisingly athletic, not afraid of the big shot, and has a finite defensive ceiling.
Expectations have been exceeded thus far, and a big part of that is due to the lack of health by the Suns’ starting frontcourt. Allan has played much more than I believe we expected him to do so. But he has done so in a satisfactory manner.
The 6’4” shooting guard has played in 19 games this season, starting all of them. Did you predict that before the season? Or even expect it? He’s averaging 12.3 points and hitting 46.8% of his three-pointers, which he is attempting 4.9 of a game. Yeah, stock up on this guy.
Allen came over in the Deandre Ayton trade and his contract is one of the pieces that was broken apart when the Suns bid a due to DA’s $32 million a year. It will be interesting to see if James Jones is willing to move Allen as a connector contract at $8.5 million. His stock is up, which means his value is as well.
Udoka Azibuike: Stock —
Udoka is on a two-way contract and we simply just haven’t seen enough of him — He’s played just 9 minutes —to make any real decisions. Nor did we have high expectations for him coming in.
At 6’10” and 280 pounds, he is a big bruising center. On the surface, the Suns could use that on the interior. Jusuf Nurkic has been in foul trouble, and Drew Eubanks has had his peaks and valleys thus far this season. But we haven’t seen Azubuike spell them in any fashion.
This is a result of Frank Vogel’s commitment to maintaining the ship’s equilibrium while guiding it. You must let your players play through their ups and their downs, and if Udoka took Eubanks’ minutes, that could create a whole other confidence-based issue unto itself.
While some clamor to see more Udoka due to his size and rebound ability, I’m not sure that they’d be satisfied with what he provides on the offensive end. Just imagine Nurkic, but at half-speed.
Keita Bates-Diop: Stock ↓
When I look at KBD, I think of the preseason expectations that I had for him. I believed that he would be the fifth starter in a dynamic offense, which would allow him an opportunity to utilize his physical intangibles in a way that would positively affect the game. His stock might be down, but it might be because the Suns have yet to be healthy and he’s yet to find a role.
He has started 8 of his 19 appearances with the Suns and, while he has a highlight moment or two every other game, for the most part, you forget he’s on the court. Both offensively and defensively. When you look at how he performs in his roles, this is what you find:
- Starter: 23.8 MP, 6.3 PPG (34 FG%, 26.1 3PT%, 75 FT%), 4.4 RPG, 117 OFFRTG, 114 DEFRTG, +.05 +/-
- Reserve: 15.1 MP, 5.4 PPG (47.8 FG%, 30.8 3PT%, 68.8 FT%), 5.4 RPG, 120 OFFRTG, 122 DEFRTG, -7.4 +/-
He isn’t effective as an offensive player when with the starters, and he isn’t effective as a defensive player with the second-team unit. Stock down.
There’s plenty of time for him to find the rhythm he needs to be a productive player, and there’s plenty of time for his stock to rise once again. But if I look at that variable of subjective expectation, he has fallen short of that rather consistently thus far this season.
Bradley Beal: Stock ↓
What’s that old adage? The best ability is availability? In Bradley Beal’s case, the best ability is durability as well, and having played just three games for the Suns, we’ve yet to unwrap the Christmas gift placed underneath our tree this past June.
Expectations have not been met nor have statistical contributions, so it is hard to even say that Bradley Beal is holding. Factor in that this season he is the highest-paid member of the Suns at $46.7 million, and his trade market value is currently in the can. Not that it matters, seeing as he has a no-trade clause in his contract.
What we did see briefly from Beal gave us hope that he could be the ideal third wheel alongside Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. His 17.3 points were electric and a sign of things to come.
If only they’d come.
His stock will certainly rise again. Once he begins playing, and that could be in a matter of days.
Bol Bol: Stock ↓
Bol has played a total of 8 minutes thus far this season. Despite the fans at the Footprint Center chanting his name late in the fourth quarter, Frank Vogel has yet to unleash upon the world the fury that is Bol Bol.
And there’s probably some good reason for that.
If you are a regular reader, you know my challenges with who Bol Bol is as a player. He lacks the physicality to be a productive player on the interior and the quickness to be a productive player on the defensive perimeter. We will continue to hear those fans chant his name, and if he ever gets some runway, I doubt will be pleased with what we see.
Perhaps I should be viewing him through the same lens that I am viewing Udoka Azubuike. That he needs a chance before being dismissed. That his stock is holding.
His stock is down because I believe his stock is always down; that he is an expendable piece of this roster that the Suns should move on from when December 15 occurs. Harsh? Perhaps. But that roster spot, albeit at a veteran minimum, could be filled with somebody who Frank Vogel might actually look down the bench and decide to insert the game at some point.
Devin Booker: Stock ↑
Booker is an interesting player to rate on the scale. There’s no doubt that he has leveled up as a player. He’s absorbed everything that he learned from Chris Paul over the past three seasons, and downloaded it into his game, thus making him a more effective playmaker.
One thing he didn’t download, necessarily, is the ball security that Chris Paul played with. In his time in Phoenix, CP3 had a 4.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. Elite stuff. Booker this season is at 2.5
Despite the turnover ratio, it is clear that Devin Booker is a player in his prime. The way that he can control the game with the most subtle hesitation in his dribble speaks volumes.
The downside is that injuries have cost him nine games so far this season. Similar to the Bradley Behl conversation, availability and durability are factors when discussing a player's stock. You have to be on the court and be productive if you want to excel, especially when you’re one of the highest-paid members of the team.
Booker's stock is up because, when he has played, he has exceeded our expectations. Before the season, the understanding was that Bradley Beal would be a primary facilitator. But Bradley Beal hasn’t played. So Booker had to adjust and adjust he has.
Six players down, nine 11 more to go!
What are your thoughts relative to their player stock on the Suns discussed above? How do you feel they’ve performed as compared to your subjective expectations? What do you see when they enter the game? Do you feel confident? Or are you ready for a roller coaster ride?
Let us know in the comments below!