July 26, 2016, 9:18 am
The Phoenix Suns are deep in what appears to be a much needed rebuild. They shocked the league a few seasons ago, just barely losing out on the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after being expected to compete for the top spot in the draft lottery, and have seemingly struggled to live up to expectations ever since.
This recent era for the team has been dominated by the idea of having multiple starting point guards on the roster. This all seemingly began when the organization found success featuring both Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, and continued when the team decided to add Isaiah Thomas to that group the following off-season. Even when Thomas and Dragic were dealt at the trade deadline, Phoenix used one of the more valuable assets in the league, the Lakers top three protected first round pick, and turned it into Brandon Knight.
This strategy does not appear to be working. Isaiah Thomas has blossomed into an All Star point guard for the Boston Celtics after struggling to find a fit in Phoenix, and Brandon Knight hasn’t been able to replicate the success that he had with the Bucks just before the trade.
It’s easy to see that Knight is not the player that he was during his final season with Milwaukee. His numbers are down across the board with the Suns, and the chatter about him being more of a combo guard has gotten louder ever since.
According to Basketball Reference, Brandon Knight dished out eight assists per 100 possessions as a Buck to go along with an assist percentage of 27.5%. Those numbers drop to 6.9 assists per game and an assist percentage of 24% as a Sun. While you may expect his turnover numbers to follow this trend, he actually had a lower turnover percentage with the Bucks than he did in Phoenix.
Knight has also been asked to be more of a floor spacer as a Sun. He saw his 3-point attempts per 100 possessions increase from 7.5 to 9.2 as a Sun, and subsequently, his percentage has dropped in that category. He has also seen his 2-point attempts and free throw opportunities diminish. He’s being asked to drive to the basket and run the offense less, and has been turned into a more one-dimensional player as a result.
So what’s the problem with Phoenix? While this may not be the entire answer, part of the issue could be the adjustment to playing shooting guard more often than he’s used to. Basketball Reference shows that Knight was only asked to play the off guard position six percent of the time while he was in Milwaukee, and that number skyrockets to 55% in Phoenix.
Many have noted that Brandon Knight may be more suited to play shooting guard, but this experiment in Phoenix has to be discouraging that idea.
There should be hope that that the revolving door that has characterized the Suns’ shooting guard position could finally be solidified. Devin Booker, a true shooting guard at 6-6 with a more-than-ideal physical profile for the position, has emerged as a legitimate option far earlier than he was expected to. Booker needs minutes, and the organization would be foolish to not find them for him any way that they can.
The Suns would be equally foolish to let Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight rot on the bench as backup point guards. The organization has committed financially to both of them, and now is the time to move on from one and move forward with the other. The idea of having both of them starting hasn’t worked, and with a promising young option on the wing it’s time to pull the plug on the experiment
Which one should they commit to? That’s a complicated answer that can really only be answered by the front office. Because of his success on both ends of the court, one would have to imagine that Bledsoe would bring in a far more attractive return than Knight would, but the flip side of that is the value that each player would bring back to the team if they were to return next season. If Bledsoe is thought to command a bigger return, then he also should be the more valuable asset to his team going into next season.
The decision now comes down to what the organization can get for either player, and what type of assets the team is even looking for. If they’re looking for more of a retool than a rebuild, then maybe you look at the type of return that you’re offered. If the best offers that Phoenix receives are proven player for one guy, and a group of picks for the other, then the decision can be made easier right there. The team could also be much higher on one player than the other.
It’s hard for me to sit here and speculate about what the team is looking for. They could prefer either guy long term, and could be getting drastically better offers for one than the other, but the fact remains that one should be gone before next season starts. Devin Booker looks to be an incredibly promising player that is ready for all of the minutes the team can give him. The Suns should be serious about making him a major part of their franchise, and that starts with committing to him as their starting shooting guard.
January 21, 2020, 11:50 pmBoban MarjanovicC, Dallas Mavericks
Boban Marjanovic was extremely efficient (5-for6 FGs, 2-for-2 FTs) on Tuesday, producing 12 points, seven rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 16 minutes vs. the Clippers.
With Dwight Powell likely lost for the season, Marjanovic should see a few extra minutes. And that's really all he needs to provide decent fantasy value. However, even with Kristaps Porzingis out for the past ten games, Boban played in just six. Keep in mind that he's unlikely to play in nearly every game even if his minutes get bumped into the 15-minute range.
January 21, 2020, 11:43 pmDelon WrightPG, Dallas Mavericks
Delon Wright was nearly invisible in the box score on Tuesday vs. the Clippers with two points, one rebound, two assists and one steal in 12 minutes.
Wright's minutes have been under 15 per game for three straight games now after a stretch of five games of over 20 minutes. He's frustrating to own, but when he's getting over 20 minutes, he's putting up standard-league value. If his stat set isn't interesting to you, feel free to leave him alone, but there's always a chance he gets back to the mid-round player he was in Memphis last season.
January 21, 2020, 11:36 pmMaxi KleberPF, Dallas Mavericks
Maximillian Kleber played 32 minutes in a loss to the Clippers on Tuesday, providing eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, one assist and two blocks.
Kleber was back on the bench with Kristaps Porzingis returning to the lineup, but Dwight Powell went down with what looks to be a season-ending injury, so he's right back to a 30-plus minute role. That load has had him inside the top-100 lately due to his blocks and threes skill set. He's worth an add in case he's still out there in your league.
January 21, 2020, 11:30 pmLuka DoncicPG-SF, Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic filled up the box score once again on Tuesday with 36 points on 12-of-26 shooting, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes as the Mavs lost to the Clippers 107-110.
Doncic made just 9-of-14 free throws, though one miss was intentional. The free throws have dipped a bit closer to last year's sub-par mark lately. If he can right the ship there, Doncic should have a great chance at finishing the season as a top-10 player.
January 21, 2020, 11:23 pmKristaps PorzingisPF-C, Dallas Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis returned from a 10-game absence on Tuesday and struggled to get his shot to fall, putting up 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting with nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes.
Porzingis' minutes were slightly limited, but 27 minutes right out of the gate is encouraging. Dwight Powell looks to be done for the season after an Achilles injury tonight, so Porzingis may be needed to pull some additional weight in the second half of the season. He should be a top-50 player down the stretch.
January 21, 2020, 11:17 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers to a 110-107 road win over the Mavs on Tuesday with 36 points (12-of-29 FGs, 11-of-12 FTs), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks and a three in 36 minutes.
All that with just one turnover for Leonard, too. Leonard may sit a game out every other week or so, but he's been the top player on a per game basis over the last month. His number will likely get dialed back a bit when Paul George returns, but there are few better when Leonard takes the floor.
January 21, 2020, 11:09 pmLandry ShametSG, Los Angeles Clippers
Landry Shamet made five 3-pointers as part of an 18-point, three-rebound, one-assist performance in 36 minutes in a win over the Mavs on Tuesday.
Shamet his all three of his freebies and attempted eight 3-point shots and no 2-point shots in this one. Shamet's performance from distance is the only reason to stream him from time to time. He's an excellent free throw shooter, but he doesn't get to the line often enough for it to help much.
January 21, 2020, 11:03 pmMaurice HarklessSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Maurice Harkless (sore lower back) returned from a one-game absence on Tuesday and barely played against the Mavs, accumulating just one rebound and four fouls in nine minutes.
Even in a start due to Paul George's continued absence, Harkless disappointed. He's worth streaming if you need a steal or a block, but as he's shown, even a starting role doesn't guarantee a good game for Harkless.
January 21, 2020, 10:18 pmPatrick BeverleyPG, Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverley will not return to Monday's game against the Mavs due to a sore right groin.
Beverley's night ends with nine points (3-of-5 shooting), four rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers in 15 minutes. When Beverley missed time recently, the Clippers filled his role with a combination of players, including Derrick Walton Jr. If Beverley misses more time, Paul George will likely be back to pick up some ball-handling slack, as well.
Source: Brad Townsend on Twitter
January 21, 2020, 10:05 pmDwight PowellPF, Dallas Mavericks
Dwight Powell (right Achilles injury) is expected to have suffered a season-ending torn right Achilles tendon.
That was the worry right away after the non-contact injury occurred. The Mavs will miss Powell. Look for Maxi Kleber and possibly Boban Marjanovic to pick up some of the slack. But, this will most likely have an effect on all of the rotation, even down to the guards.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter