The Suns already have eight perimeter players under contract -- three point guards and five wings --so on the surface it doesn't look like there is any room for on more. The maximum roster limit is 15, but the Suns have not decided to fill the 14th and 15th roster spots in recent years. However, if one of these two play well enough and impress the coaching staff, they could earn a spot.
Diante Garrett, the 6-foot-5, 190-pound point guard out of Iowa State, is a player the Suns really like. Garrett is a unique player with great size at the point guard spot and an ability to do a little of everything for the team. The Suns' interest goes back a ways as they brought him in for a work out before the 2011 NBA Draft according to Paul Coro. The Suns didn't draft him that year (no one did) but he must have impressed to stay on the team's radar.
After a year playing overseas, Phoenix brought him back to the Valley to suit up for their Summer League squad. Garrett didn't put up huge numbers, but I was impressed with some of the things he was able to do and the way he played the game.
"I learned a lot, playing out there in Vegas," Garrett told SBN Arizona's Kris Habbas at Suns Media Day. "First time doing any NBA stuff besides NBA workouts. Being able to play against the top competitive people that got drafted, and getting an opportunity to go out there and play and showcase my ability was good."
I wasn't the only one he impressed, apparently, as the Suns invited him back to participate in training camp. The feeling must have been mutual, as Garrett accepted the invitation.
"They've been talking with me for a while, talking with my agent and stuff like that for a while ... I felt like this was the best opportunity, the best option I could get," Garrett said.
Garrett got some burn in the scrimmage last week and while he didn't light it up, his stat-line does a good job of capturing who he is as a player right now: two points, 1-4 field goals, 0-3 3-point field goals, two assists, one rebound. Garrett is a utility player who can attack the basket, distribute and crash the glass, but he needs to work on his jumper.
His length at the point also gives him versatility as he can fill in at the two in a pinch. Versatility is a very good thing for a player trying to make a roster.
Coro reported that Garrett has also done well in the practice scrimmages, including leading his team to a win in one of them.
Garrett is still a little raw, and with three point guards already on the roster, even if he made the team it would be solely as a developmental prospect. The question would then be, does he stay with the team and work with the player development staff, or does he head to Bakersfield to get some game action in the D-League?
Garrett mentioned competitiveness and competing a lot in his interview with Habbas, and that competitive spirit is exactly what he needs to make the roster.
The other long-shot fighting for a roster is 6-foot-5 swingman Othyus Jeffers. Jeffers was a stand-out player at Robert Morris before heading overseas to begin his pro career.
He returned to the U.S. to play in the D-League, where he did well and earned Rookie of the Year honors. He played a couple games for the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, but got his first real action with the Washington Wizards where he played in 16 games. Unfortunately for Jeffers, he tore his ACL last summer and had to sit out the entire year. Now he's back to full health and looking to make a team.
I asked Mike Prada of SB Nation NBA and Bullets Forever about the kind of player Jeffers is, and Mike described his game for me (in 140 characters or less):
@omahasun good hustle player, undersized, cuts well, plays hard, can't shoot
— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) October 9, 2012
That sounds quite a bit like somebody else already on the roster, doesn't it? P.J. Tucker is Jeffers' direct competition, and the former Texas Longhorn is sitting in the driver's seat as he already has a contract. The only way Jeffers makes the squad is if he can outperform Tucker and steal his spot.
The good news for Jeffers (and bad news for Tucker) is that Tucker has had to sit out with an eye injury. Meanwhile, Jeffers is putting in work and showing the coaches what he can do, He also got a little bit of playing time in the scrimmage and finished with two points, 1-2 FGs, one rebound and one steal.
Read up on Jeffers' back story a little bit. He's probably not going to make the Suns but I certainly hope the guy can latch on somewhere. He's been through a lot and has worked really hard. He deserves it.
What do you guys think. They are long shots, but do you think either on of these guys can make the roster?