It’s been 54 games into the 2014-2015 NBA season, and the Phoenix Suns come in with a record of 29-25 and the 8th seed in the Western Conference as we approach All-Star weekend festivities.
The Suns have had plenty of great performances in those 54 games by many players, but these three players in particular have been crucial to the Suns’ success. Not only did they play extremely well in the first half, but will play huge roles as the race for the 8th seed tightens up with Oklahoma City and New Orleans in the second half.
Feb 10, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets guardPatrick Beverley
(2) knocks the ball away from Phoenix Suns guardEric Bledsoe
(2) at US Airways Center. The Rockets won 127-118. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Most Valuable Player (MVP) – Eric Bledsoe
I was personally shocked and thought it was a bad move for the Suns to offer Eric Bledsoe that lucrative deal to keep him in Phoenix, but so far Bledsoe has proved he deserves all of that money. This season, the 5th year player from Kentucky is averaging 17.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.2 rebounds.
The rebounds are the most impressive to me considering Bledsoe is only 6’1″. Even more impressive, after four years filled with injury, Bledsoe has only missed one game for the Suns this season. That 70-million dollar contract seems to be working out just fine for the Suns front office.
Feb 8, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns forwardMarkieff Morris
(11) shoots the ball between Sacramento Kings forwardJason Thompson
(34) and centerDeMarcus Cousins
(15) during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Most Improved Player (MIP) – Markieff Morris
It was a pleasant surprise to see Markieff Morris make an impact when head coach Jeff Hornacek inserted the 6’10″ power forward into the starting line-up. Morris has been shining ever since he was named a starter, averaging 15.1 points and 6.0 rebounds on the year.
In particular I like Morris’ ability to be a stretch-four and hit a long jumper when needed. Morris is able to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket from the high post or even the wing. I think Morris is the long-term power forward for the Suns going forward, especially if they want to continue pushing the tempo and playing small ball.
Jan 13, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns centerAlex Len
(21) is defended by Cleveland Cavaliers forwardKevin Love
(0) during the second quarter at US Airways Center. Phoenix won 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Biggest Surprise – Alex Len
I’ll be the first to say I thought the Suns were absolutely stupid for not drafting Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore with the 5th pick in the 2012 NBA draft. But it looks like things are finally working out with Alex Len, who has been blossoming into the player the Suns thought he would be.
For the first couple months he was coming off the bench in favor of Miles Plumlee, but I do think Len is a great fit at the center position for this Suns team. Len sets great screens for the guards, he is a good rebounder, and he is a great shot blocker.
So far this season Len is averaging 6.2 points and 6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Can he keep this up all year? Maybe. Chances are he’ll be the starter unless Phoenix makes a blockbuster deal at the deadline to bring in a frontcourt superstar.