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Suns add defensive-minded Darius Bazley at trade deadline

Dario Saric was traded for a young, athletic wing who can provide a defensive impact.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

It has been an exciting 48 hours for the Phoenix Suns organization. The trade deadline didn’t provide fireworks. It provided an organizational nuclear bomb. The Kevin Durant transaction was an all-time trade, one that will be referenced for years to come, especially in Phoenix circles seeing as the team parted ways with four first round picks and a pick swap.

Guess ZonaHoops and Damon Allred won’t have to do much draft research in odd-years during the 2020’s.

General Manager James Jones stated to a group of Bright Siders on January 30 that he expected the trade deadline to be, “horizontal”. Specifically with regard to prominent players, he did not anticipate a lot of player movement across the league.

Then new owner Mat Ishbia came to town and changed that philosophy on his first day on the job.

Gone are Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder. Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren are headed to Phoenix. It’s all anybody’s talking about. It’s Super Bowl week in Phoenix, and it’s all anybody is talking about. It’s beautiful.

Lost in the shuffle is a secondary transaction that occurred just prior to the trade deadline expiring. Dario Saric, who came to the Suns via trade on July 6, 2019 – the same day that T.J. Warren was shipped to the Indiana Pacers for cash considerations – was traded with a 2029 second round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Darius Bazley.

Saric, who was on an expiring $9.2M contract at the end of the season, is said to have approved of the trade since he wanted to play and didn’t have a certain role with the Suns.

So who is Darius Bazley?

Let’s start with the measurables. Bazley is 22 years old – his birthday is June 12 – and is in his fourth year in the league. He is 6’8”, 208 pounds, and has a seven-foot wingspan. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 23rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and came to the Thunder days after being drafted in a couple of deals; one that sent him to Memphis in the Mike Conley deal, and one that sent him to OKC for Brandon Clarke.

Of the 221 games in his career, Bazley has started 118 of them, and has career averages of 9.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 24.1 minutes played. He’s posted a 41 FG%, 31 3PT%, and 67.6 FT% in his career.

There’s the stats. So again, who is Darius Bazley?

The 2018 McDonald’s All-American is described by the editor of SB Nation’s Welcome to Loud City, J.D. Tailor, as:

“Baze was one of the best defenders on the Thunder, possibly better than Lu [Dort] but it’s close between them. He has a good temperament on defense and rarely fouls. You won’t ever see highlight plays out of him on defense but his consistency when it comes to contesting shots is very good. Coach Dags used him as a small ball 5 earlier in the year and his rim protection was generally okay.”

“Offensively, Bazley can be a rough watch. He’s good at finishing plays inside of three feet and his outside shot has been fine this season (above his career average and I’d expect some regression). After that, he becomes a frustrating player to watch.”

“Darius will nearly always take a jab step and hold the ball when he is the ball-handler, it slows the game down and does not fit with the Thunder’s current approach to offense. His bag around the rim is limited and he doesn’t really like take contact. Baze is good above the basket but settles for fading layups too much.”

Need some video highlights? But of course…

Based on Tailor’s comments, he appears to be a longer version of Josh Okogie. A dog on the defensive end, a project on the offensive end. He is drastically different from the outgoing Saric in that he possesses athletic ability.

Monty Williams will have the task of integrating him into regular season rotations when the need for wing depth is needed. currently has Bazley listed as wearing jersey number 55, which has been worn previously by Earl Clark, Mike James, and most recently E’Twaun Moore. Baze would be the tenth Sun to don the number.

Welcome to the Valley, Darius. Welcome to winning.

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