We are a quarter of the way through the regular season for the Phoenix Suns and our series on whether or not their stock is up, down, or holding fast continues.
It will be interesting to look back at the halfway mark of the season and see how much has changed and how their stocks will be at that time. The halfway point of the season equates to game 41, which is following the Suns game against the New Orleans Pelicans on January 19. Plenty can happen between now and then just as plenty has happened between the start of the season and now.
The Suns are a 12-10 team who have yet to put their Big Three on the court. A team in the middle, the Suns are patiently waiting for the chance to have their Big Three play. And who knows? That could be as soon as Tuesday.
This serves as a reminder that, although we continue to go through the stock exchange rates of our roster, I am making every effort to base my analysis of each player’s stock on factual and statistical performance in addition to subjectivity on preseason expectations.
Let’s continue through the middle part of the roster, going alphabetically of course.
Kevin Durant: Stock ↑
It’s hard to believe that, at 35 years old, Kevin Durant‘s stock is trending upwards. He’s at the point of his career where he should be holding fast, contributing with his elite scoring as needed. It turns out that for the Phoenix Suns, “as needed” has become nightly. And Easy Money Sniper has abided.
Kevin Durant loves making big shots against the Jazz!pic.twitter.com/Cw45ZeduzJ— PHNX Suns (@PHNX_Suns) November 20, 2023
Durant is averaging 31 points in 19 games played, doing so on 52.1/50/89.2. splits. He’s second on the team in rebounding and blocks, and first in points, assists, minutes played, and free throw attempts. He is carrying the team this season. At 35.
Phoenix relies on him due to the multitude of injuries that have occurred to the team, and the hope is long-term it doesn’t ultimately affect his durability as the season progresses. We’re still waiting to find out if he will be available to play against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, after missing three games already this season.
He has been turnover-prone, as he leads the team in that statistic as well. This is due to his high usage rate. If and when the Big Three becomes a thing, we can expect less usage and playmaking from Durant and more spot of shooting, in which he excels.
Drew Eubanks: Stock —
If you had asked me this two weeks ago, it would’ve been a clear “stock ↑” situation for Drew Eubanks. He shot out of the gate like an F1 race, car, bringing high energy and explosiveness around the rim. The way that he is spelled Jusuf Nurkic has been a clear win for the Suns as a relates to their off-season acquisitions.
Alas, there is a reason that Ebanks is a backup center on a veteran minimum contract. Although he possesses all the physical tools to be an effective center, consistency is a challenge. We have seen his light dim as of late and his production wane.
If you look at his first 12 games, he was scoring 8.1 points and grabbing 4.9 rebounds in 19 minutes played. But his last nine games have seen his productivity fall as he’s scored 4.9 points in 16.2 minutes, corraling 3.9 rebounds.
I’ll continue to hold on to Eubanks stock because, again, he is on a veteran minimum contract. The production he provides at price-for-value-paid is exemplary, and knowing that he is available to spell Nurkic is valuable for this team.
Time will tell if James Jones decides to bring in another big behind the Nurkic/Eubanks combo. Chimezie Metu has seen some small ball work, and Kevin Durant has been utilized in an overtime win against the Utah Jazz in that fashion as well. So the roster components may currently exist, but Frank Vogel has yet to completely explore or deploy them.
And no, Bol Bol is not a backup to the backup center.
Jordan Goodwin: Stock ↑
Bradley Beal was the blockbuster name that came over from the Washington Wizards this summer, but Jordan Goodwin has been a constant and consistent force for Frank Vogel. Is he your traditional backup point guard? No. But he brings a Jevon Carter-like mentality, with better physical intangibles, and can shoot the rock a little bit.
Here's a look at which guards are grabbing more offensive rebounds.— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) December 3, 2023
⬆️Grabbing more offensive rebs
➡️More chances to get offensive rebs
️200 minute min/ filtered down to guards pic.twitter.com/HBlYGNCrVO
Preseason expectations were that we would see some of Goodwin and the hope is that the third-year player would mature into a steady role player with the Suns. He has delivered on those expectations through the first quarter of the season.
He’s played in all 22 games for Phoenix and, in 17.1 minutes played, easily has the team’s best defensive rating at 105.4. That’s 4.1 points better than Josh Okogie’s 109.5.
Goodwin is the type of player who makes winning plays and that is what the Suns need on their roster. It isn’t a surprise that he is seeing as much playing time as he has thus far. He has earned it.
Eric Gordon: Stock ↑
Eric Gordon overall is exceeding my expectations in the same way that Grayson Allen has. He’s been asked to do more than what he was originally brought to Phoenix to do. A former Sixth Man of the Year award winner, the expectation was that Gordon would be a fireball shooter off of the bench, hitting big threes while Booker and Beal sat and watched, and potentially would be part of the closing five for Phoenix.
Unfortunately, due to injury, Gordon has to had to do much more than that. And for the most part, he has delivered.
In his 20 games played, he has started 16 of them, with none more impressive than the 25 points he scored at Madison Square Garden. With Kevin Durant out of the lineup, Gordon stepped up to be the second scorer alongside Devin Booker.
There has been some inconsistency in Gordon’s game, as there are nights in which we see his aggressiveness completely disappear. He possesses a physicality that is much needed for Phoenix, and his ability to attack the cylinder is a side of his game that is very underrated. But we do not see it enough.
Gordon was very close to being a “stock hold” for me in the Suns’ stock exchange, but I’m giving him the up arrow because of what he’s had to do to help stabilize this team through the first quarter of the season.
Saben Lee: Stock —
There isn’t much to discuss when it comes to Saben Lee, and thankfully there shouldn’t be. This isn’t last season. We don’t need Lee to come and play 23 games for the Suns. If we do, we know that we’re in trouble. We experienced that last season.
A quality player on a two-way contract, he is a “break glass in case of emergency” kind of player. Thankfully, the Suns haven’t had to break that glass. You need to have aggressive competitors in your two-way contract slots. Saben holds that skill set. So will continue to hold him.
Damion Lee: Stock ↓
Through no fault of his own, Lee finds his stock pointing downward. He was a fringe player prior to the start of the season when Phoenix was looking to trim its roster down to the requirements set forth by the NBA. You are permitted 15 players, with 3 two-way contracts. The Suns ultimately chose to part ways with Ish Wainright t rather than Damion Lee, and that was the right decision.
The skills that Lee possesses, especially as it pertains to shooting from beyond the arc, exceed the shoulder width that Wainwright possessed.
Unfortunately for Lee, he hasn’t had an opportunity to play due to a meniscus tear that happened in training camp. He has been sidelined and his value, albeit on a veteran deal, has dipped.
It will be interesting to see where we are when we hit the halfway mark of the season and to see if Damon Lee is healthy. He’s definitely someone who can work his way into a rotation spot and provide the offensive firepower that the Suns need from their second-team unit. The team has the 23rd-highest-scoring bench in the NBA, better known as the seventh-worst.
Lee can change that with a flick of the wrist.
There you are, Bright Siders. The stock market continues to fluctuate as we look at the performance of the team. Where are our opportunities? Is there anyone who you are willing to buy low on at this point? Is it Damion Lee?
Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s final Suns Stock Exchange as we finish looking at the roster!