The Phoenix Suns had had some issues at the guard position this season, ranging from health to productivity. Those beating the drum for a “true point guard” have been disappointed, seeing as Devin Booker has primarily served in that capacity and his backup, Jordan Goodwin, is not a traditional point guard.
Damion Lee, another option at guard, has been injured since training camp. With Bradley Beal scheduled to miss multiple weeks following an injury to his right ankle, the need for more depth at the guard depth is apparent.
Therefore the Suns made a move on Sunday to add depth, utilizing their final two-way contract spot to do so. The team added 6’4” French point guard Theo Maledon.
The Suns are claiming guard Theo Maledon off waivers on a two-way contract, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Backcourt depth for Phoenix. The 6-4 PG is in his fourth NBA season, averaging nearly eight points and three assists for his career. He was waived by Hornets this week.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 17, 2023
Maledon, originally drafted 34th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, has played his past four seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets, the latter of which waived him earlier this week. In his rookie season with OKC he averaged 10.1 points and 3.5 assists in 65 games (49 starts).
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connell said this of Maledon in his 2020 Draft Guide:
Plays with a controlled pace in the pick-and-roll. He loves to use hesitations to compensate for his lack of athleticism. He’s a dual threat, dangerous as both a passer and shooter off the dribble.
Shoots well off the catch and off the dribble. He’s not dynamic, but has nice form and can score when called upon.
Crafty finisher who is comfortable scoring off the wrong foot or with his off-hand. He has a nice touch on off-balance layups, finger rolls, and floaters.
Sturdy frame with long arms; he projects as a reliable man-to-man defender if his fundamentals improve.
He has made steady progress each season and possesses a high work ethic. He’s also mentored by Spurs legend Tony Parker.
Struggles to create space despite his change of pace and use of in-out dribbles and crossovers. He gets enveloped by quality defenders who beat him to his spot, and currently lacks the ability to counterattack.
Doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the rim as a ball handler, which may limit his value as a playmaker if he’s not creating angles for kickout 3s. The flashes are there, but he must master his handle.
Despite his size, he hasn’t had success on switches against larger players, offering little resistance.
He defends on his heels, which slows down his lateral slides. And he bites on too many shot fakes.
Suns’ fans may remember Maledon as he scored his career-high of 33 points in a 140-103 loss to Phoenix on April 2, 2021. He went 10-of-18 from the field and 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The Hornets chose to waive Theo and fill his spot with 25-year-old Nathan Mensah, an undrafted rookie from San Diego State.
Maledon played in 13 games for the Hornets this season, and the team parted ways with him this past Thursday as the need for another point guard was no longer needed. He’s averaged 4.2 points in 15.4 minutes played this year and is shooting just 16.4% from beyond the arc.
There you go, people. A true backup point guard. You’re welcome.