Juy20toronto_4

The Rookies

Archie Goodwin

PPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG APG TPG MPG +/-
13.1 50.0 57.1 66.7 3.3 0.9 2.9 24.6 -4

Goodwin was the story of Summer League for the Suns. The 18-year-old was third on the team in scoring and did so with great efficiency. He shot 50 percent from the field and a blistering 57 percent from deep and got to the free-throw line almost seven times per game. He also flashed excellent defensive potential with his long arms, quick feet and great hustle.

As good as Goodwin looked, however, he still has a long way to go. The Suns reportedly see him as a point guard down the road, but he didn't show much of that in Vegas with six total assists compared to 20 turnovers. He also struggled to convert once he got to the stripe, hitting only two out of every three attempts. His shot fell for the most part, but it's still flat and his form still worries me. He might not get as many calls to go his way either once he has real NBA refs blowing the whistle. And there's the 0.3 assist-to-turnover ratio to consider as well.

But even with all the question marks, it looks like we got a good one. Goodwin's ability to get to the basket is something that can't be learned and is a solid base to build on. He's only 18 years old after all, and there is plenty of time for him to polish the rest of his game.

Alex Oriakhi

PPG FG% FT% RPG FPG MPG +/-
2.3 42.9 66.7 1.6 2.0 7.9 -12


Alex Oriakhi had one good game. He finished with eight points and four rebounds, shot 4-7 from the field, had three steals, recorded five personal fouls in 15 minutes and ended up +12 against Memphis. Other than that, it was a whole lotta almost nothing. Oriakhi offers a similar build to fellow Summer Sun Arinze Onuaku. He's a large, powerfully built man. However, he's more mobile than Onuaku and is a bit further along in terms of post footwork from what I saw. However, the Syracuse alumnus is far more experienced than Oriakhi and as such was higher on the depth chart. Oriakhi was basically a spot-minute and garbage time player this year for the Suns and didn't show a whole lot in the few minutes he did play.

As a second round pick (57th overall) Oriakhi does not have a guaranteed contract and is facing an uphill battle just to make the team. But GM Ryan McDonough has been watching Oriakhi throughout his career and liked him enough to draft him, so we'll see what happens.

The Roster Hopefuls

Dionte Christmas

PPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG APG TPG MPG +/-
10.1 46.3 32.1 75.0 2.7 2.0 1.0 20.9 +3

Dionte Christmas is a Summer League vet who just finished up his fourth appearance in Las Vegas/Orlando. He's been right on the cusp of making it in the NBA the last couple years since going undrafted after a standout career at Temple. He's a versatile offensive player who knows how to get buckets, and he showed that with the Suns this year averaging double-figures. He played both on and off the ball, getting to the basket, knocking down perimeter shots and even making some nice passes from time to time.

However, Christmas also showed the flaws in his game that have kept him off the NBA court. Spotty shot-selection, defensive lapses and average athleticism were all evident in his performance.

Arinze Onuaku

PPG FG% FT% RPG ORPG TPG MPG +/-
6.9 63.6 54.5 6.4 2.0 2.4 17.3 +15

At 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds, Onuaku is a whole lotta beef, and he showed in Vegas this year that he knows how to throw it around. Onuaku consistently carved out space for himself on both ends with his wide frame, finishing around the rim at a high rate and pulling down seemingly every available rebound. Onuaku was a tremendous rebounder in the D-League last year, and stepped it up even more with the Summer Suns averaging over 13 caroms per 36 minutes (including over four per game on the offensive end alone).

Onuaku really played to his strengths and looked good doing it. However, he also showed how limited he is. He has zero range, did not show much of a developed low post game and struggled to step away from the paint to play defense. While Onuaku's body types make him good at certain things, it also limits his ability to play basketball at the NBA level.

Chris Babb

5.0 PPG, 42.9 FG%, 57.1 3FG%, 90.0 FT%, 1.9 RPG, 14.3 MPG, +4

PPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG MPG +/-
5.0 42.9 57.1 90.0 1.9 14.3 +4

Chris Babb was the prototype 3-and-D player at Iowa State, earning all-defensive honors from the Big 12 on a team that led the NCAA in 3-pointers last season. That's pretty much exactly who he was for the Summer Suns as well. He wasn't ever really asked to lock down the opponent's best player so we didn't see much of his defense, but he did knock down threes at a high and consistent rate throughout the Summer League. He didn't do much else, but if a team is looking for a 3-and-D player to fill out a roster then Babb isn't a bad option.

The Others

Dwayne Collins, the 60th overall pick for the Suns a couple of seasons ago who signed with a team overseas and disappeared for the last couple of years, continued to seem invisible even after joining the Suns in Vegas. He scored six points and pulled down three rebounds in just 27 total minutes of playing time over six games. Collins is apparently trying to work his way back after a knee injury, and based on his performance I don't think he's quite there yet.

Jake Cohen looks like a good option if you're up late in games and need good free-throw shooters, but other than that he's not going to do much for you. Thomas Abercrombie is a fine NBL player, but he's not an NBA player and that was pretty evident in the few minutes he played (my apologies to our Kiwi readers).



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Winning the inaugural Summer League championship would have been nice, but the real reason teams head to Vegas is to give their young players experience and to evaluate players who after hoping to make it in the league. The Suns sent a grizzled veteran, two third-year players and two second year players from last year's roster in addition to the two rookies Ryan McDonough just drafted. Five other players joined them in Vegas hoping to impress someone in an NBA front office. Finally, new Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek made his NBA debut.

First, let's evaluate the players who were on the Suns roster last season.

The Vets

Marcus Morris

PPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG APG TPG SPG MPG +/-
14.3 47.2 47.8 61.8 3.9 1.9 2.1 1.3 23.3 +45

Mook led a balanced scoring attack from the Summer Suns at 14.3 points per game on a respectable 47.2 percent from the field. However, take out his 6-9 and 8-11 games and Marcus shot just 35 percent from the field in his other five games. He was given the freedom to handle the ball and create his own offense, and unfortunately that led to a lot of long jumpers. He actually shot better from 3-point range than he did overall at 47.8 percent, which is something that should translate well to the regular season. He chipped in a little bit in the rebounding, distributing and steals department, but the vast majority of his value is in his scoring. He finished with the second highest +/- overall at +45 and his only minus game came at -2.

Overall, Marcus was one of the Suns' best players and was a big reason for the 6-1 record. But he didn't show much improvement in terms of creating good shots off the bounce. Mook still looks to me like his best role is as a spot-up 3-point shooter who can slash and handle the ball every now and then. Ask him to do more than that and you're asking for inefficient play.

Markieff Morris

PPG FG% 3FG FT% RPG APG TPG BPG FPG MPG +/-
13.6 52.2 25.0 90.5 6.4 1.7 2.4 1.1 4.7 22.9 +11

Keef wasn't far behind his twin in terms of scoring (those guys do everything together) at 13.6 points per game. He actually shot over 50 percent from the field unlike last year and made almost all of his free throws. Markieff was playing center again and held his own on the boards, pulling down 6.4 per (equivalent of 10 boards per 36 minutes). He passed the ball around and protected the rim a bit. He still fouled a whole lot, but he managed to avoid fouling out even when the limit dropped back down to six in the tournament. Markieff really struggled in the last two games, but was really solid in the first five and was more impressive than he was last year despite the raw numbers being smaller. He reverted back to the jumpshot-jacking, inefficient guy we all know in the least two games which was evident in the numbers (-26 over the last two games, and he missed his last six 3-pointers).

If Keef can play more like he did in the first five (scoring more in the paint, taking mostly open 15-footers instead of contested 20-footers or shots off the dribble), we might have a rotation-worthy player just yet.

P.J. Tucker

11.9 PPG, 55.0 FG%, 2-8 3FG, 75.0 FT%, 5.9 RPG (1.7 ORPG), 1.4 SPG, 1.1 APG, 1.3 TPG, 22.6 MPG, +11

PPG FG% 3FG% FT% RPG APG TPG SPG MPG +/-
11.9 55.0 25.0 75.0 5.9 1.1 1.3 1.4 22.6 +11

P.J. Tucker was a beast. He was one of the more experienced players in Vegas and he played like it. He took over when the Suns were struggled and willed the team to victory. He scored efficiently inside and rebounded at a high rate. He was the guy we expected him to be. However, as well as he played, he was more or less the same old Tucker. His points came mostly in the paint and his jumpshot still resembles a medieval catapult (with about as much accuracy). He shot just 2-8 from beyond the arc in his seven games. Improving his 3-point stroke is what Tucker needs to focus on most to be a more effective NBA player, but at this stage in his career I don't know how much improvement we can hope to see.

Kendall Marshall

5.6 PPG, 38.7 FG%, 40.0 3FG% (15), 81.8 FT% (11), 4.0 APG, 2.0 TPG, 20 MPG, +9

PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG TPG MPG +/-
5.6 38.7 40.0 81.8 4.0 2.0 20.0 +9

Marshall still struggled statistically, but he did make progress from where he was at this point last year. Marshall showed flashes of improvement throughout his seven games. He was more aggressive at times. He attacked the basket and used his body to create space and get off shots, which is something he's going to have to learn how to do as a bigger guard who lacks quickness. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range on 15 attempts, which is over two per game, and he made all but two of his free throw attempts. I thought his defense was adequate for the most part. And of course, he distributed the ball well both on the break and in the half court. Marshall still made plenty of mistakes, and he's still not as developed as he needs to be to be effective consistently, but he is making progress. Marshall had a lot of work to do when the Suns drafted him, and so far he's only had one year to work on that.

Diante Garrett

5.7 PPG, 42.9 FG%, 2-6 3FG, 2-6 FT, 3.9 APG (12 assist game), 1.0 TPG, 16.7 MPG, +57 (+20 in one)

PPG FG% 3FG% FT% APG TPG MPG +/-
5.7 42.9 33.3 33.3 3.9 1.0 16.7 +57

Garrett got off to a bit of a slow start but picked it up as the tournament rolled along. His production was very similar to Marshall's, although he got it done in a different way. Marshall actually shot better than Garrett, but Garrett was better at getting to the hole and finishing. Garrett's assist and +/- numbers are really impressive, although both are boosted by great games of 12 assists and +20.

Overall, Garrett is who we thought he was. A guy who can do a little of everything but doesn't have one go-to skill. He still needs to improve his jumper, but his distributing looked good. And he did post the highest +/- on the team. Garrett certainly didn't play himself off the roster, but with an unguaranteed contact and a full roster I don't know if he played well enough to stay on it.

*Part 2: The Rookies and Roster Hopefuls coming soon!

In the mean time, what did you think of the veterans' improvement Bright Siders?

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There is an aura of excitement in the Valley for the first time in years. A jubilant adolescent glee has stretched over the masses with promise, potential, and plenty of praise. One unique individual has caught the imagination of fans and media alike as those that love the game are swooning over this soon to be NBA rookie.

Who is causing all this excitement? None other than former University of Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin.

That feeling was there in a crowded conference room as 20-25 reporters ranging from "old enough to be Goodwin's dad" to "old enough to be his grandfather" from all avenues of media crammed together to ask the 18 year, 10 month, 4 day old kid all kinds of questions to get a feel for him.

As the youngest player in the 2013 NBA Draft Goodwin has a unique appeal and the potential every team looks for. Despite always being a little younger than his peers, Goodwin has always been one of the best talents in his class. His talent on the court is only matched by his engaging personality and award winning smile he flashes with a nonchalant motion after a question.

With the one year rule added in 2007 and the emergence of young players going to prep school it has become a rarity to have the opportunity to draft an 18 year old talented canvas that a team has the opportunity to paint on and develop into a potential work of art.

During his year at Kentucky Goodwin was criticized for immaturity, a common concept for any normal 17 year old kid.

Goodwin is every bit of what a normal teenager is like as a fresh baby faced, physically incomplete kid that wants to go out there and do what he enjoys doing. When you meet Goodwin in person it is easy to take a step back and remember that he is a teenager that is entering into the very adult world of professional sports. The difference between Goodwin and a typical teenager is that he has the potential to be a part of the future on an NBA team and has captured the imagination of a city. That is not a common occurrence for a typical teenager.

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Over the past three years the Phoenix Suns have drafted in the lottery each year playing it safe rather than taking risks on high end talents. When the season ended the excitement turned to the draft in both 2011 and 2012, but when the dust settled the climax was anticlimactic. Like a Dick Wolf Ending.

Enduring two mediocre seasons of 40-42 and 33-33 led to the back-to-back No. 13 Overall picks. Those picks turned into Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall.

Each prospect had a solid college season before their respective drafts and careers leading top programs to high seeds, tournament wins, and high profiles in the eyes of NBA executives. Markieff was the compliment to his brother with the Kansas Jayhawks while Kendall was the engine of the up-tempo, exciting North Carolina Tar Heels. They were both steady, played to their strengths, and were seen as safe; average and even tolerable picks.

After those selections there wasn't a single person ready to climb to the top of the mountain and anoint either as a franchise savior.

This year the team fell even further landing them a Top 5 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and when they were on the clock they had the pick of some of the perceived top talents in the draft on the board. They turned to that familiar strategy though in drafting Alex Len out of Maryland.

Len has a higher ceiling than his peers, but the excitement factor is on the same level as both Morris and Marshall in the eyes of the public. Len does not bring the excitement primarily because of his position on the court, but also because of those left on the board when he was drafted. He was on the board with more high profile prospects like Nerlens Noel (No. 6), Ben McLemore (No. 7), and C.J. McCollum (No. 10) that would have been more engaging to the audience in Phoenix who were clamoring for some excitement.

In college Morris and Marshall showed talent and some potential, but both had ceilings that were visible at that level and at times were touched with an out-stretched arm.

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Expectations that Goodwin is the savior and will lead the Suns to multiple Championships before all is said and done is clearly the wrong route to go. That is far-fetched for any prospect let alone the No. 29 overall pick in a "weak draft." Some are in that camp while others are simply excited to have something worth being excited about. It has been years since the last time the Suns genuinely had an exciting player on their roster with promise.

Local and National media alike are swooning on social media like Twitter to express their gratitude to the Basketball Gods for the Gift of Goodwin.

That is what social media is for. When is the last time in-depth, hard hitting, quality analysis was thrown on the platform of social media? It is a tongue-in-cheek way to connect with fans and the basketball community alike.

The excitement is justified when Goodwin is flying through the lane and finishing with agile finesse required for a perimeter player. The caveat to that is that this was at Summer League, but Goodwin did not have a Von Wafer display in the meaningless summer tournament, instead flashed the potential that captured the imaginations of talent evaluators last summer when Goodwin was a consensus lottery pick in the infantile stages of the 2013 NBA Draft process.

Attacking the rim and making plays with his raw athleticism separates him from his lottery pick peers on the roster. He is capable of independently making plays that can change momentum in a game and be a difference maker.

That is a claim that the players selected higher on this roster cannot make.

A prime example of that came in the Summer League when Goodwin perfectly executed an in-bounds play curling from one side of the paint to the other, catching a lob pass, and finished through traffic. As Goodwin goes through the motions of learning how to make the simple plays the fact that he is capable of making the spectacular plays further more emphasize the potential he has.

At times he looks like a young Monte Ellis. Other times he looks like a raw, young Kobe Bryant or Gerald Green, and the truth of his potential lies somewhere in-between.

It all started with Goodwin walking in with his fresh suit, Kentucky blue tie, and a nervous confidence that seemed fitting for an 18 year old with no expectations on him specifically, but worlds of potential that create the kind of excitement that this city and fan-base has been looking for.

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