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 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.
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.
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.
5.0 PPG, 42.9 FG%, 57.1 3FG%, 90.0 FT%, 1.9 RPG, 14.3 MPG, +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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
5.6 PPG, 38.7 FG%, 40.0 3FG% (15), 81.8 FT% (11), 4.0 APG, 2.0 TPG, 20 MPG, +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.
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)
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?