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Suns Stock, Part III: Nurkic is up, Yuta is down, and we’re holding on Metu

It’s our final installment of the Suns Stock Exchange for the first quarter of the season!

Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images

Before the Phoenix Suns take on the Golden State Warriors tonight, which will mark the 23rd game of the season, we are buttoning up our site analysis on the state of the Suns Stock Market. Do you dabble in the market? Do you have notifications when your stocks are up or down? Me neither. I let my wife do that as I focus on that while I recklessly gamble on DraftKings rather than gambling in the market.

The first quarter of the season for Phoenix has been interesting to say the least, and it is almost fitting that tonight we could have a chance to see the Big Three for the first time, as that is what was absent for the first 22 games. The Suns have had to adjust accordingly, and along with it goes the value of each player and their stock.

It is stock predicated on performance vs. expectation. It isn’t necessarily a trade-value stock, although that can be taken into account. If you missed the first two parts of the series, I have no fear, Bright Side is here.

And now, for the final third of the roster, as we’ve gone alphabetically by last name.

Nassir Little: Stock ↑

He wasn’t just a throw-in from the trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, as he has provided quality minutes thus far with Phoenix. He has always been a high-upside player who has been a project, but he hasn’t been part of a winning culture since entering the league. That has changed here in Phoenix as expectations have risen. But he didn’t have high expectations from the fan base, just a hope that he could contribute.

Just give us quality minutes! Just give us some defense! Hit a three! Oh, a jam? We’ll take that too!

Nas has been a welcome addition to the Suns and he will have his ups and downs, but we didn’t expect much from him to begin with. We hoped for production from him, but expectations weren’t high. He has responded with 16 games played, 5.2 minutes, and 2.1 rebounds. Not typically “stock up” type of statistics, but given the expectation level, we’ll take it. We’ll take the energy off of the bench.

He has exceeded his minimal expectations.

Chimezie Metu: Stock —

After a hot preseason, I think we all believed that we would see more from Chimezie Metu. His length, athleticism, and surprising three-point shot in the preseason predicated some lofty expectations that he hasn’t lived up to, but part of that is because Frank Vogel hasn’t utilized him very much.

He is some of a player in the middle, as he is too small to be effective big, but too big to be an effective forward. He’s played in 12 games for Phoenix at 8.4 minutes a game. Not nearly the runway I thought we’d see from him.

I’m holding on him because I need to see more. I need to see if Vogel is willing to experiment with him some more at the small-ball five as the rotations are properly set when the Big Three debut. Will he garner minutes instead of Eubanks in that role? Or will he slot in as a second team power forward as needed?

We don’t know what to expect quite yet from Metu.

Jusuf Nurkic: Stock ↑

Price for value paid, that’s what I continue to tell myself when I watch Nurkic.

Does he get cooked in the fourth quarter by opposing guards? Absolutely. But what did we expect? That he would have the lateral quickness that Deandre Ayton possessed? We knew that wasn’t the case. We knew that losing DA would cost us defensively in fourth quarters.

That being said, Nurkic has been a solid addition to this team. When he plays well, Phoenix wins. He’s a connector on the offensive end, can bully opposing centers around on the defensive end — as long as they’re not too athletic — and grab rebounds. He leads the team with 9.1 boards.

Yeah, his 27.8% for three-point range on 2.5 attempts needs to chill, but it is his “fit” that the Suns have embraced. They need a physical presence and Nurk has provided that. If only he didn’t have the silly fouls.

He’s a lot more aggressive than I think that we were prepared to give him credit for, and his engagement has been a pleasant surprise. He was rumored to be a player who disengaged and hung his head, but we haven’t seen that thus far with Phoenix. We’ve seen somebody who cares.

Josh Okogie: Stock ↓

JO has such a fantastic season in 2022-23, but his offense has regressed. 6.4 points in 21.8 minutes played. 40.4% from the field. 23.4% from three. 7-of-31 from the corner three (22.6%).

He will always get playing time due to his nonstop ability to play defense, be a pest, and provide offensive rebounds from the wing position. But his stock is down as our expectations are a little bit higher than what he’s produced.

Many thought that he would be an ideal fifth starter for Phoenix, but he hasn’t been able to execute that. He has played in all 22 games for Phoenix, but only 10 as a starter. His lack of offensive ability has opposing defenses simply let him stand alone while they collapse their efforts to Booker or Durant.

That sounds like a stock-down situation to me.

Yuta Watanabe: Stock ↓

What’s working against Yuta is the fact that I believe that we had very high expectations for him. You take a look and see that he’s a career 439% three-point shooter, and how can you not? A knockdown three-point shooter coming off the bench who’s played with Kevin Durant? Where do we sign?

But, alas, Watanabe has been a defensive liability, as he’s lost in the schemes that Frank Vogel has attempted to deploy. His three-point shot isn’t as effective as it was prior to coming to Phoenix either, even though 36.7% is acceptable.

At this point of the season, yes, his stock is down. Has he entered the Shamet Zone? I’ll let you be the judge.


There it is. Your quarter-season report. I’ve enjoyed putting this together and I may put together a weekly piece. A “Suns Stock Exchange”, if you will, that discusses who is on the rise, who is falling, and who we should hold on.

Be sure to call your broker in the morning and make the correct decisions to support and diversify your portfolio. We’ve given you the information. We can’t force you to consume it and we don’t know what to tell you to do with it. Just enjoy Suns basketball.

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