The Phoenix Suns, despite a poor record of 10-23, are boasting some young talent with rookies Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, and Tyler Ulis.
The Phoenix Suns are following up one of their worst seasons in franchise history last year with another disappointing campaign in 2016-17.
They finished last season at 23-59, and owned an embarrassing .280 winning percentage. They’ll surely have a better record at the conclusion of this year since they currently sit at 10-23 after last night’s 99-91 victory against the Toronto Raptors.
Despite another lame year of Suns basketball last season, it was clear that rookie Devin Booker was the future face of the franchise. In his rookie year, Booker averaged 13.8 points per game over 27.7 minutes per game. He appeared in 76 games, and was a spark the Suns desperately needed.
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The same story is beginning to unfold this season. It’s obvious the Suns aren’t in any position to compete this season, but there is reason to be optimistic for the future of basketball in the desert.
Last year it was Booker that provided the Suns with some spark and reason for hope in the near future. This season it’s a combination of youngsters like Dragan Bender, Tyler Ulis, and Marquese Chriss that give the Suns hope for the following seasons.
None of these rookies see the minutes like Booker did last year, but when they do, they’ve shown flashes of potential. Bender began his NBA career on October 26, when his Suns hosted the Sacramento Kings in the season opener. The 19-year old impressed with 10 points and 2 rebounds in a 113-94 loss.
Bender set a career-high in points on December 26 when he dropped 11 points in another Suns’ loss. He’s young and still needs to mature, but he’s shown a lot of potential in his first few months of his rookie campaign.
Chriss has been a consistent scorer for Earl Watson this season. He’s scored in all but two games this year, and averages 7.1 points per game. Chriss, also 19 years old, was tremendous in the Suns win against the New York Knicks on December 13. He scored 14 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, making it the first double-double of his career.
The Washington product has scored in double-digits seven times this season, and has started in 26 of the team’s 33 games.
Ulis is the most entertaining to watch due to his fast-play and quickness on the court. He’s listed at just 5’10”, but can be one of the most dangerous players when on the floor. The 20-year old from Kentucky is coming off one of his best games of the season, when he tied a career-high 10 points in their latest win against the Raptors.
The Suns mainly use Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Booker as their trio of guards, which can be tricky for Ulis to find playing time. He’s averaging just 9.1 minutes per game, but never fails to provide some spark for the Suns in that limited time.
Last year it was Booker that seemed to carry the weight for the Suns. Booker has some help now in his sophomore year thanks to the Baby-Faced Bunch of Bender, Chriss, and Ulis.
While they may not be in a position to compete this season, the future is bright thanks to this young core that Watson and the Suns boast.