This is a question I ask myself quite often. They obviously have a few on the roster. Dragan Bender (who was the recent punchline in a very funny John Oliver joke), Marquese Chriss, Alec Peters, Jared Dudley (I love you, Jared), Alan Williams, and even Josh Jackson on occasion are all guys that can play that 4 spot. But, when it comes to power forward talent around the league, these guys aren’t necessarily top notch. Chriss struggled all year with his shot, and seemed to just be lost for a majority of his time on the floor. Bender started to come into his own, but he still has a long way to go on the offensive end (note: I really like it when Bender hits threes early in games, because that opens up a pump fake and slash game that he doesn’t have if he’s offline early on). Alec Peters had the best game from the power forward position all year, but obviously isn’t a consistent choice to start (not for a sane coach, anyway). Alan Williams usually gets his time at the center position, and Josh Jackson usually gets his at the small forward. So, I’m not really sure if the Suns have a power forward for the future. Let’s look at some options.
- Kenneth Faried
This one is a long shot. Faried is far removed from starting, as Paul Millsap basically absorbed all his minutes in Denver. Obviously, the Nuggets want to move Faried, his $13 million contract (yikes), and open up his spot on the roster. It feels like year after year, up until the Suns drafted Chriss and Bender, there was always a rumor that the Nuggets were going to trade the Manimal to the Suns. Obviously, Faried has only gotten older and lost some of his famed athleticism, so this really isn’t the best solution unless the Suns are really desperate to move a guy like Marquese Chriss, who may be bad for chemistry. Faried can rebound and operate closer to the basket, but he has no outside shot. He struggles anywhere outside the painted area, which isn’t something many teams are looking for anymore. The only incentive to pick up Faried is that he’s a veteran, something the Suns need, and rumblings around the league say that Denver is willing to part with the 14th overall pick if someone wants to take Faried off their hands.
- Aaron Gordon
This one makes more sense. He’s likely to be a restricted free agent, but he’s looking for a max deal, something the Suns might not want to offer to someone as injury-prone as Gordon. But, when he’s healthy, he’s incredibly athletic. He’s an electrifying dunker, he’s developed a decent outside shot, and if (that’s a BIG if) the Suns choose to keep Elfrid Payton, there’s already existing chemistry between the two. Gordon has the makings to be the Suns’ power forward of the future if they can hash out the details. Most of Gordon’s stats have taken an unprecedented jump this year, and he has the makings to be a superstar. He’s scored 5 more points per game, upped his 3PM by one whole make per game, and pulls in 2 more rebounds per game. His improvement on the defensive end is notable as well. But (that’s a BIG but), he only played 58 games this year. The Suns medical staff is known for being able to help out injury-prone guys, but it’s certainly a gamble to give him a max contract. If I’m Phoenix, I would try and negotiate a nice two or three year deal and go from there, see if Gordon really is a good fit with Booker, Jackson and (hopefully) Ayton, and see where he is as he reaches his prime at 24 or 25.
- Nikola Mirotic
He’s got one year left on a $12.5 million contract. He can shoot the longball. He can grow an excellent beard. He’s Nik Mirotic. I’ve always been a fan of Mirotic’s game, and he was an integral part of the weird stint of Bulls success in December upon his return from being decked in the face by Bobby Portis, as well as being a reliable guy for New Orleans down the stretch of the season. From 2015-2017, Mirotic was a guy you could depend on for a few points, maybe some decent defense, but I think 2018 was the year he became a really complete player. Not a superstar worth a max contract, mind you, but a guy you can comfortably start and say he’s one of the better starting PFs in the league. He’s a guy that can stretch the floor and stay in front of guys well enough, and he’d be an improvement for the Suns at the power forward position. The Pelicans would probably be looking for a guard or small forward in that trade, though, something the Suns may not be able to give up. Put it in the “maybe” column. Just think about it a little.
- DeMarre Carroll
Okay, hear me out on this one. I know it doesn’t make much sense. He’s an older player, a little undersized for the power forward position, and his health is definitely a question. But, he scored 13.5 PPG last year, he put up the best numbers of his career for passing and rebounding (though they’re still not super impressive), and he’s only got a year left on a bad contract. He could be the temporary fit while the Suns develop, draft, or trade for a better player. He could plug the leak. I wouldn’t mind it, at least not for a while.
- Ryan Anderson
Ryan. Anderson. He’s the perfect solution, in my opinion! Mike D’Antoni didn’t give him playoff minutes, and I really don’t know why. He’s tall, but quick enough to stay in front of smaller guys, he sets a good pick and can make shots close to the basket or from beyond the arc, and he’s definitely better than the guys the Suns have right now. And, lest we forget that he ENDED ALEX LEN’S CAREER this year in Talking Stick Resort Arena! This is the perfect opportunity to get Anderson the minutes he deserves. His contract is a little steep with 2yrs/$20 million coming his way, but he has a chance to be very, very worth it. If the Rockets won’t use him, the Suns certainly have a spot for him.
If anything, the Suns could even work with what they have. Who knows how coach Igor is gonna work with Dragan Bender? I think Bender’s ceiling is pretty high, and if anyone is going to get something out of him it’s someone who knows the European game and the European players like Igor does. Marquese Chriss has a long offseason ahead of him, but if he puts in the work from behind the line, gets more muscle to work inside, and works on his basketball IQ and instincts, he could be good too. Who knows? The Suns have a lot of options, and there’s a very good chance that they’ll look at all of them in the quest to grant Devin Booker passage to the playoffs this year. But first, they’ll need a power forward.