July 7th, 2018: Arizona Sports are Saved

Alright, so a lot happened on Saturday, and I’m here to tell you about it.

 

  1. Devin Booker Extension

Five years. $158 million. All five years guaranteed, no options. This is the nature of the extension of the Phoenix Suns’ franchise player. Devin Booker, after holding out due to Tyler Ulis miscommunication, signed his extension on July 7th, 2018. For the next five years, he is a Sun, and he won’t even be in the prime of his prime when that extension ends. He’ll be 26! And when that contract expires, THEN he’ll be in his prime and the Suns can sign him to something even better! That’s amazing news, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

 

  1. Deandre Ayton did some cool stuff

21 points and 12 rebounds was the name of the game for Deandre Ayton in game 2 of his Las Vegas Summer League tenure. His first half looked very lackluster, as he was getting beat in the post by Harry Giles, a man who has undergone two ACL surgeries. He was trying to post up by standing straight up and down instead of trying to dig into his defender, and he wasn’t slashing strongly after setting screens. He ended the half with 4 points, and Marvin Bagley looked to be his superior. But, in the second half, something changed. He was setting tough on-ball screens, he was passing out of doubles effectively, he was catching the ball over the top of his defender, and he really started to dig in. By the end of it all, he was efficient, strong, and using his size extremely well. Deandre Ayton looks good.

 

2b. Mikal Bridges did things too

In the last two games of Summer League, Mikal Bridges is 5 for 8 from three and 6 for 10 in general. That’s impressive. He looked great defensively on Saturday, and he had a nice steal and slam to cement himself as a decent defensive talent with athleticism. He’s proving he’s worth the trade-up on draft day, and that’s good.

 

  1. Masked Josh Jackson happened

Need I say more? That block is plastered all over every highlight page online. He stood over him and taunted him! He taunted the 2nd overall pick! Don’t elbow Josh Jackson in the face. He will kill you.

 

  1. The Diamondbacks scored 20 runs in a single game

That’s a franchise record. Wow. Alex Avila had 3 RBIs. That’s really all you need to know about that. He’s hitting .148 and he had THREE RBIs. The Padres are very bad.

 

Well, there you have it, folks. Arizona sports are saved and everyone can rejoice as Phoenix becomes a great sports city once again. (But, seriously, it was a good day. There’s a lot for the Suns to build on, and the Diamondbacks might finally get back into the groove they were in to start the season. I’m very happy about these results. Thank you for your time.)

Elie Okobo will be your new favorite Sun

Drafted 31st in Thursday’s NBA Draft, Elie Okobo is one of the newest members of the Phoenix Suns. First thing he did? Call himself Swaggy E on Twitter.

Okobo is a currently a point guard for Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez in France. He’s a little undersized at 6’2’’, but he gets the job done on the offensive end. He’s also got a 6’8’’ wingspan, which helps him have active hands on defense. Here’s highlights of a recent game against AS Monaco, where he scored 44 points. That’s awesome. He’s awesome. As shown by the highlights, he’s got a nice handle, and a pretty silky-smooth 3-point shot. An offensive-minded, undersized point guard may not be the solution to the Suns’ defensive woes, but he’s a much needed spark off the bench on offense.

Swaggy E is also known for notable performances for the French U20 national team, and was the third highest scorer in the 2016 FIBA U20 tournament with a line of 18.9 points/3.9 rebounds/1.6 assists/1.9 steals. Obviously he didn’t move the ball a lot, but he scored when he needed to be the primary scorer, had active hands on defense, and rebounded surprisingly well for a guy his size.

When Elie was drafted at 31, a large portion of analysts and writers called it a steal. This is a good sign already. Ryan McDonough, while not good at many things, is good at the NBA Draft. He finds the right guys (Alex Len notwithstanding) to get the job done. Booker at 13, Warren at 14, and (even though we didn’t keep him) Bogdan Bogdanovic at 27. Consensus on Okobo was that he’d be a good pick in the mid-teens in the first round, so getting him at 31 was one of the better under the radar picks in this year’s draft.

Lest we forget another French point guard that was drafted 28th overall in 2001. He ended up having a pretty good career.

As of yesterday, Okobo signed a 4-year, $6 million rookie deal, with the 3rd and 4th years being team options. Okobo has two years to develop into something fantastic. Okobo will also play on the Suns’ Summer League team in Las Vegas starting next week, so we get to see just how NBA-ready he is, and how his talent translates from overseas.

There’s a certain aura to Elie Okobo that’s kind of indescribable. He seems fun, but hungry at the same time. I might just be being optimistic here, but there’s something there that will set him apart from the Suns point guards of the last few years. He’s got something that Bledsoe, Knight, and Ulis just don’t have. I don’t know what it is yet, but there’s something there.

Elie Okobo will definitely leave an imprint before his third year in the league, as long as the Suns give him time to see the floor and learn the game. He’ll be an integral part of the Suns bench sooner than later. If Tyler Ulis’s contract isn’t picked up, he’ll be coming off the bench with Daniels, Bridges, Chriss, and Chandler. If that happens, Okobo stands to make an impact right away.

I have a good feeling about this one. Elie Okobo will be my (and your) new favorite Sun.

Paul Goldschmidt is Finally Good Again, and That’s Good

My fellow Sideline Intel writer and somber Orioles fan Ryan Sharp wrote about Orioles first baseman Chris Davis having a historically bad year. He’s at a -1.8 in fWAR (Wins Above Replacement). He’s hitting .153, and he’s only got four home runs on the season. That’s bad. I’m really sorry Ryan has to watch that. Chris Davis is usually very good, and this year, he has been very bad.

On the other side of the country, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul “Goldie” Goldschmidt has, up until the last couple of weeks, had a pretty bad year too.

His last at bat of the 2017 season was the last at bat of the Diamondbacks season, where he struck out swinging at a bad pitch out of the strike zone against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLDS. That seemed to stick with him coming into 2018, as he started out barely swinging the bat at all. His shift to a reserved style saw him taking walks more often at the start of the year, but it didn’t do his team, his stats, or his fans any favors.

The month of May was absolutely awful for Goldschmidt, and it brought many to question if his Golden (ha) Years were behind him. He had 8 RBI in 27 games in May, 7 home runs on the year entering June, and was batting .209. It was an awful month for the whole Diamondbacks team as well. It started with their first series loss of the season against the Nationals, and snowballed into an 8-19 month with a series loss to the Mets. The Mets! When Goldie ain’t batting, ain’t nobody batting.

 

Fast forward to June. Goldie has, as of June 10th, increased his batting average to .254, has 10 RBI, hit 2 home runs in 2 straight games, and led the DBacks to win 7 of their last 9 games and reclaim the division title from the Colorado Rockies, whom they outscored by a total of 15 runs in this week’s series. It seems like Goldie’s energy radiates through the entire team. As he’s continued to hit well, guys like Ketel Marte (who had 10 straight extra base hits!), John Ryan Murphy, and even Chris Owings have contributed at the plate lately.

Special shoutout to utility-infielder-turned-slugger Daniel Descalso. I see you, Daniel. You’re putting in work. Keep it up. (.261/.360/.510 is absolutely incredible for him, his .510 slugging percentage is .086 higher than his career average, which was in 2016.)

The Diamondbacks also added outfielder Jon Jay, who has yet to break the seal on his first hit despite hitting .307 upon being traded to the team. Once his bat fires up, Pollock gets healthy, and the pitching staff heals, the Diamondbacks look to be a series threat in the National League. But, there’s still 99 games of baseball left to be played, and a lot of uncertainty down that stretch of time.

All we can say for certain is this: Paul Goldschmidt is good again, and that’s really really good. Hopefully he has time to make a very late All-Star bid and join AJ Pollock in Washington, D.C.

Writer’s Note: As basketball starts to hit a slow point, you’re all gonna see some more MLB content coming from me this summer! But don’t worry, the Suns still do things, and I’m going to let you know about every single one of them.

 

Do the Suns have a Power Forward?

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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

16th Overall Pick: Who Runs the Point in Phoenix?

The Suns secured the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft, and that’s cool. But, if they pick Ayton, they’ve still got a glaring hole at the point guard position that Elfrid Payton (probably) won’t be able to fill. The Suns have the 16th overall pick, which is a great position to draft a solid guard. I ran a Twitter poll with a few options (feel free to follow me), so I’m gonna break down these options. Keep in mind these aren’t the only guys available, but these are the options I see in front of Phoenix.

 

  1. Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Jalen Brunson led the National Champion Wildcats with an impressive 18.9 PPG on 52% shooting and 40% from 3-point range. He chalked up 4.6 assists as well over the course of 32 minutes per game. Brunson is a left-handed guard with a little bit of grit, something the Suns need in the backcourt. He’s 6’2’’, a nice height for a guard, but a below average wingspan. This year was his junior year, which means he’s a little bit more developed than some of the younger guards. He can shoot, and he can help run an offense pretty well. Though, his offense was helped along by elite NCAA coach Jay Wright, and his lack of athleticism and first step will definitely hurt him in the draft. Though he’s leaving college basketball with an impressive championship run on his résumé, Brunson is definitely not the best option on the board at 16.

 

  1. Aaron Holiday, UCLA

Aaron Holiday is a good defensive guard. He’s got a quick step to stay in front of guys, and that also helps him score. Playing a staggering 37.7 minutes per game, Holiday scored to the tune of 20 PPG on 46% shooting and 43% from 3-point territory. There’s a lot of efficiency there. Holiday can really shoot from beyond the arc, and his shot on the move is fantastic as well. He averaged a little under 6 assists, as well as 3.7 rebounds. Holiday is definitely someone the Suns could use, and he’s the younger brother of NBA brothers Jrue and Justin Holiday. He received PAC-12 first-time and defensive first-team honors this year, and there’s no better time to draft a player like him. He should still be on the board at 16, and the Suns would make a great decision to pick him.

 

  1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky

Kentucky Freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an impressive first year in the SEC. All-Conference Second Team, All-Rookie Team, and SEC All-Tournament Team are all on Gilgeous-Alexander’s résumé. He averaged 33.7 minutes per game with 14.4 PPG on 48.5% shooting and 40.4% from the arc, along with 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds. SGA is 6’6’’, which gives him a natural advantage on defense. He averaged 1.6 steals on defense, and showed an ability to stay in front of point guards around the NCAA. Watching tape can show a slower release than anyone else on this list, as well as a tendency to over dribble, but if the Suns can work with Josh Jackson, they can work with Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s not the best offensive option on this list, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could lead the charge on an oversized backcourt in Phoenix. He may not be available at 16, as the Los Angeles Clippers have the two picks at the end of the lottery, and may look to bring in a guard to play behind Patrick Beverley or Milos Teodosic.

 

  1. Trading for a vet

There are plenty of point guards around the NBA that are already established as NBA-caliber talent. This is an edge that all of them have on the guys coming out of the draft. Looking at the guards around the NBA and keeping realism in mind, here are some guys the Suns could try and make moves for:

  • Darren Collison, IND

Collison showed his scoring and passing ability in the first round of the playoffs, and a veteran presence leading the offense is never a bad thing.

  • D’Angelo Russell

Another subpar season in Brooklyn may lead to even more roster turnover. Russell’s contract isn’t bad for the player he is, and he seems to have a decent friendship with Devin Booker, something that might lead him to Phoenix.

  • Kemba Walker

Let’s be real. There’s a low chance of this happening. But, with a new GM in Charlotte, he might want to blow it up and start over again. If that happens, the Suns should be the first one on the phone trying to land Walker without giving up too much of the young core.

Trading for a vet might get established talent, but it may not be the best solution for the timeline the Suns are trying to work with. GM Ryan McDonough said he was open to trading that 16th pick, and if the Suns do draft Ayton, a point guard will definitely be a requirement on the other end.

 

The Suns have plenty of options at 16, and that’s great. There’s not a problem with having a lot of options. It’s weighing the options and choosing the right one that’s the problem. Ryan McDonough has had a good track record when it comes to drafting recently (congrats on All-Rookie Second Team, Josh), and Suns fans shouldn’t mind him picking who he feels is best at 16.

There are also obviously unexplored options, like making a package to trade into the lottery and drafting a guy like Collin Sexton or Trae Young (I HATE Trae Young but that’s just my humble opinion).

Opinion of the people on my Twitter feed shows that trading for a vet or drafting Aaron Holiday are the best options, and I tend to agree. Let’s just hope that Phoenix makes the decisions to right the ship this season.

Why injuries are the worst thing ever (The worst NBA injuries this season)

 

NBA players get injured a lot, and that sucks. Those injuries take a lot of things away from the players, teams, and fans all around the NBA. Basketball fans have been deprived of a lot of things, so I’m going to complain about some of the things we’ve been deprived of.

  1. Kyrie vs. LeBron (duh)

“A playoff series doesn’t start until someone wins on the road.” What? Neither team can win on the road? Can we make the series 11 games? Ugh. Terry Rozier is REALLY cool, don’t get me wrong. I love me some good old fashioned 90’s Patriot Quarterback-related beef. But Kyrie being “the guy” on the Celtics was so fun and then his knee had to ruin it! What even is “minimally invasive surgery” anyway!

This Cavs-Celtics series would be SO FUN if Kyrie was trading daggers with LeBron and the 8 other players on the floor just kind of watched in awe. But, instead, we have a really interesting series where talented young guys defy all odds. Booooooo. Boring.

 

  1. Butler College Reunion Tour

Speaking of the Celtics, there’s another guy that got hurt. He has really nice hair, he’s good at League of Legends, and his feet were turned two different directions for a brief few minutes at the beginning of this year. Injuries suck. I want Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens. Bring him back. (Sarcastic article tone aside, please PLEASE let Gordon Hayward have his deadly scoring instincts and quick first step and please let him get back into basketball shape quickly.)

 

  1. Boogie vs. Draymond and Javale

This one is one people don’t think of a lot. The Pelicans played the Warriors in round 2 of the 2018 playoffs, in case you’ve already forgotten amidst one of the best Western Conference Finals series of all time. The Pelicans have a center named DeMarcus Cousins on their roster, but he ruptured his left achilles tendon during the regular season, keeping him out for the playoffs. Bad! He has a little bit of an attitude, something he shares with Golden State forward Draymond Green. He keeps things very heavy and serious, something he does not share with rat-tail champion and Golden State center Javale McGee.

Either one of those fine Golden State gentlemen defending the personality and complaint-filled DeMarcus Cousins would have been must-see TV. High tensions against a tough defender like Draymond. Frustration against an aloof and smiling Javale. Gold. Thanks injuries.

 

  1. WCFull of Missed Opportunities

Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala being injured is bad for basketball. There’s not much else to it. Both of those guys make their teams so much more fun, and I wanna see Chris Paul shimmy in front of Steph again as much as I wanna see Iggy turn back the clock and dunk on a lackluster Rockets defense. Those guys make basketball fun and they will be missed dearly as long as they’re out. Also, Chris Paul and/or one of his teammates has been injured in the playoffs an unfair amount of years in a row.

 

  1. Kawhi Komplications

This one kind of hurts my heart a lot. Kawhi Leonard is now searching for a new home away from the coach and team that made him who he is, mostly because of injuries and mismanagement leading to issues behind the scenes. Leonard’s injury was one of the more influential ones this year, and it’s leading to a potential move to Los Angeles in the offseason. The Spurs are probably gonna miss the playoffs for the first time in a millenium because Kawhi’s shoulder (leg? something?) doesn’t work right. Cool.

 

  1. Tall European Big Man Falls Down

Kristaps nooooooo. Despite this leaving room for Michael Beasley to prosper, this one hurts a lot. Kristaps was putting together a good bid for an All-NBA team and maybe even an All-NBA Defensive team nod. His spectacular season was cut short, and it sucks that any of us has to be worried about his recovery process for the coming season. If he doesn’t play with new Knicks head coach Dave Fizdale I’m going to be very upset. The fact that THIS is even a THING is pretty awful.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Dion Waiters: I love Dion Waiters! Why didn’t I get to see him play more!

Donovan Mitchell at the end of Game 5: It probably wouldn’t have helped them win but I hate to see that guy go down. I like him a lot! Injuries are bad!

Brandon Knight: I’m not super upset about this one but it would have helped to have a point guard instead of having absolutely none in Phoenix.

Jimmy Butler: The Wolves almost didn’t make the playoffs because Tom Thibodeau runs the muscles off the bones of his players!

Derrick Rose: This isn’t necessarily this year, this one is just a bummer across the last few years in general. At least his dreadlocks look nice.

Anyways, injuries are really bad, and we as fans definitely saw the effects of the injury bug this year. Maybe next year something will change, and really good players will get to play more. Bring back Dion Waiters! That’s what everyone should get out of this article.

(Seriously, though. NBA players are human, and they’ll be back sooner than you know it. Next year is going to be really fun.)

Should the Suns trade the First Pick for Karl Anthony-Towns?

A first overall pick who has the ability to pass on the low block, who can stretch the floor, and who can play a good low post game, but who needs some (a lot of) work on defense has recently said he’s unsatisfied with his situation in Minnesota and wants to be somewhere else. This player also happened to go to college with Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis, and his name is Karl-Anthony Towns.

The obvious issue for Towns is that he isn’t being used enough. If you’re KAT, you watched your usage percentage dip this season from 27.4% to 22.9% and watched a few of your more important stats dip with it. Tom Thibodeau has his “guys” come from his Chicago days and you see your playing time eaten up by Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng. Thibodeau has been running the legs off guys and seemingly stopping their NBA careers short by overplaying them, so yeah, you’re gonna want out, and you’re gonna openly talk about it.

Now, obviously, Towns isn’t going to be dealt by Minnesota for anything less than the #1 overall pick if you’re Phoenix. The pieces you would prefer to give away (lower picks, Warren, Chriss, Bender) can’t make this trade work, and the pieces you would prefer to keep (Jackson, Booker, #1 pick) are the ones Minnesota would look for. Now, Towns is a former #1 pick and won Rookie of the Year unanimously in 2016. That’s incredibly impressive, and what’s more impressive is that he’s seemingly developed his game and gotten better since his rookie campaign, despite his numbers not reflecting it this year. As previously mentioned, a dip in usage will cause a dip in production.

I, personally, really like KAT. I think Booker likes him too, if Twitter is any indication. I also really like DeAndre Ayton but not as much as KAT, and (as of recently), do not really like Luka Dončić. Let’s flesh out all these opinions.

Why don’t I like Dončić at #1? There’s a few reasons. First of all, he said he wasn’t even set on coming to the NBA, and recently received the Euroleague MVP. If he’s not sold on the team, then don’t even bother coming here. Pass. No thank you. Second of all, he doesn’t have an explosive first step. Strength alone might get you by in the Euroleague, but not having that quickness will KILL a guard like that in the NBA. Third of all, Arizona sports radio personality John “Gambo” Gambadoro has recently brought up a potential “attitude” problem of Dončić’s.

“Yeah. Shooting. Immaturity. Funny how we cut so much slack to Dončić for pouting but want to ship out another 19 year old for the same reason”, of course, referring to Marquese Chriss. I think Dončić is high-risk, high-reward, but not the kind of risk a rebuilding team should take at #1.

Why do I like KAT more than Ayton? I believe that KAT is basically Ayton’s ceiling. Any fan would HOPE that Ayton would be as good as Towns. Every scout says Ayton’s defensive instincts aren’t great, and his quickness on that side of the ball definitely needs some work. Ayton would also be more effective with a pass-first point guard, something the Suns really don’t have right now unless Elfrid Payton and his new haircut come back next season, or if they draft a guard at #16. KAT doesn’t need that past-first guy, as he can create his own opportunities as well as create opportunities for others with his passing and good offensive game sense. He’s a proven NBA guy, and Ayton isn’t (yet). That being said, I certainly wouldn’t mind DeAndre Ayton on my team. I really wouldn’t complain. If the Suns don’t trade the pick, I would not be upset. I like Ayton, just not as much as KAT.

In conclusion, I think the Suns should trade the pick for KAT. Booker wants him, and I like that man being happy. But, if Ayton gets his wish to play in Phoenix, more power to him. I enjoy his game too, and him and Booker would be something else on the offensive end (and ONLY on the offensive end). The lesson to be learned here is: no Dončić. Please. Just a big man at #1. Find a Collin Sexton (if he drops somehow) or an Aaron Holiday at 16 and address that need for a ball-handler, but just stick with a sure thing at #1, whether it be KAT or Ayton. Don’t screw this up. I’m begging you. I need a 30 win season very badly.

Suns Win the #1 Overall Pick in the NBA Draft

Yup. It’s happening. After an arduous 21-61 season, the Suns get what they wanted all along. The Suns will be the final #1 pick in the “traditional” tanking era, as, starting next year, the bottom 3 teams all have an equal chance to draft at #1.

Anyway, wow. This is the first time in franchise history the Suns will pick #1 overall, and the last time they came close, they missed out on Kareem. Who will they pick? Ayton? Dončić? Those are really the only two options in most people’s opinion, and now there’s no question that they have the opportunity to draft the best player available.

I did an entire write-up on Ayton, who backed up his statements about wanting to play in Phoenix via interview and tweet. Ayton is just a hulk of a center and could be the next (and first, depending on who you ask) great center in Suns history. He’s confident, smooth, strong, and a hometown player from the University of Arizona. But, Luka Dončić.

Dončić, a favorite of new head coach Igor Kokoškov, is a 6’8’’ point guard from Slovenia. Slovenia has had success in the NBA in the form of Goran Dragic, but his athleticism comes into question coming over from Europe. He’s being touted as the best European prospect ever, and he’s certainly the most hyped prospect from across the Atlantic. Drafting Dončić would also add a lot of height-having a 6’8’’ point guard next to a 6’6’’ shooting guard and 6’8’’ small forward would lead to a lot of defensive versatility, if Dončić can gain the agility to stay in front of guys.

Anyway, that’s a month from now. Let’s all celebrate! This is big! Suns fans have earned this after an abysmal season, and hopefully more good news from the Phoenix front comes soon.

2018 NBA Playoffs: The Second Round in Review

The Conference Semifinals are over. I’m very bored because there’s no basketball until Sunday. As a follow-up to my “First Round in Review”, I’m gonna do some more storylines that I liked.

 

  1. This Donovan Mitchell tweet

Social media at its finest. Also, the Jazz won a game against the high-powered Rockets offense and it was very fun to watch! Donovan Mitchell looks like he can lead a team, Joe Ingles did some things, and Ricky Rubio looked very nice on the sidelines in a spiffy-looking blazer/hoodie combo (I don’t care what you say it looks very neat and I will defend that beautiful bearded man-bunned pass-first point guard with my life).

 

  1. Chris Paul’s Game 5

Here’s the full highlights, they speak for themselves. Point God is an appropriate nickname. 41 points and 10 assists with 7 rebounds, shooting 59.1% from the field and 80 PERCENT (!!!) from 3-point territory? Sheesh. If he keeps this up, he could really be a thorn in the side of the Warriors, which I’m hoping is true because I said the Rockets would win in 7 on my bracket.

 

  1. This Joel Embiid Postgame Interview

Ah, Joel. You never disappoint. Given, it is pretty funny to watch 6’2’’ Terry Rozier try and square up with literal giant Joel Embiid, so he has a point. Drawing the ire of Rozier and the Celtics wasn’t exactly a good idea, though, as shown by the result of the series. Are we still Trusting the Process? Is that still happening? They’ll be back next season, maybe just find a replacement for JJ Reddick. Brutal shooting numbers over the course of the 2nd round. And Covington, too. Jeez, the Sixers need some guard help.

 

  1. Brad Stevens and His Out of Timeout Plays

It’s so pretty. Brad Stevens is such an amazing coach. The Celtics might actually challenge LeBron James and his helpful acquaintances (see: SNL sketch and Onion Article), and it would be pretty amazing to see a team without two of their 20 PPG scorers advance through the Eastern Conference into the NBA Finals. Also, Drew Bledsoe showed up to a game in Boston! That’s so weird! He’s literally only important right now because he has the same last name as Eric Bledsoe and Terry Rozier made an honest mistake!

 

  1. “Hamptons Five” becoming a thing

I’m so glad this nickname is a thing. Why do the Warriors not want it to be a thing? I like it. It’s a nice name. “DEATH LINEUP” is a little much. “Hamptons Five” sounds like a group of nice young men who like to have fun and play basketball. “DEATH LINEUP” does not. For those uninitiated: Steph, Klay, Draymond, and Andre Iguodala all went to the Hamptons to recruit Kevin Durant, thus the lineup with all five of them on the floor at once is the “Hamptons Five,” the lineup that Steve Kerr opted to start for Games 4 and 5. Also, the Hamptons Five just absolutely dominating the Pelicans over the last two games was equal parts fun to watch and very infuriating. I’m tired of the Warriors winning but Steph Curry’s smile is so infectious.

 

  1. Jrue Holiday catching kisses from his daughter

It’s so cute. It’s adorable. Watch it. It’s so cute, really. I’m not even usually one for children or their antics but it’s SO CUTE. Also, the Pelicans stole a game against the mighty Warriors, which was cool. Jrue Holiday wasn’t as nearly as fun to watch as the last series, and it feels like every lob thrown to Anthony Davis was just tossed into the heavens to be recovered by anyone but Anthony Davis. The Pelicans looked very meh. Maybe let the Blazers have a stab at it? But everything went as planned, and the Warriors got the best of the Pels and the Rockets are now waiting in Houston to face them. Fun and exciting basketball ahead!

 

  1. LeBron James

Let me be clear: I have always disliked LeBron James. It’s like hating Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jordan before him. I hate him so so so so so much, but I would love for him to be on my basketball team. Is it too hot for him in Phoenix? Anyways. Game winners, an impromptu clinic on fadeaway jumpers, and ANOTHER conference finals appearance for the King. Is he tired yet? I dunno, probably. But he’s not gonna show it.

 

  1. Drake? Maybe? Nothing.

Toronto really let me down here. I’m not even gonna lie, I’m just so disappointed. Drake yelling at Kendrick Perkins is funny because it’s two men of probably equal basketball skill yelling at each other, and Drake (a fan/Global Ambassador) played as much basketball as Kendrick Perkins (a real life actual NBA basketball player) in that series. Today, the Raptors fired head coach Dwane Casey after constantly being throttled by LeBron. It came out yesterday that LeBron was literally helping Raptors players run their out of bounds plays, so they probably need to find a new playbook. The Raptors are so bad in the playoffs. I should have expected nothing different.

 

Anyways, that’s just my bored ramblings as I go insane waiting for the Conference Finals and the Draft Lottery. Yeah, that’s right. The Suns finally get some good news this week. Can’t wait. I’m actually very excited to get the #4 overall pick and then cry for a while. Go Suns.

Who’s the most important player on the Warriors?

The Warriors are a very good basketball team. We know this, and have known this for a very long time. They were ahead of the curve on offense and have transformed the NBA into the Warriors vs. the People Trying to Beat the Warriors. After a 73-9 (how?) season in 2015-16, they (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) blew a 3-1 series lead to lose in the NBA Finals to LeBron James and his friends. They signed a former MVP/future evil villain in Kevin Durant, and the rest is history. After a Game 3 loss to the Pelicans, they decided to start their “Death Lineup” in Game 4, and any team with a lineup called the “Death Lineup” is not a team you want to play a game of basketball against.

Scary lineup names are all well and good, but let’s get to the point: Who is the most important player on the Warriors? Not the BEST, mind you, but the most important. The best player is Steph Curry. That’s a whole different article.

Is it Zaza Pachulia? No. No, he’s really not. Nope… Nothing easy.

Is it Jordan Bell, Chris Boucher, Kevon Looney, Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw, or David West? No, sadly. They all know how to play basketball, and they stop the Warriors from having to play all the good guys too many minutes, but no. P.S: Jordan Bell had the best interview quote of all time in December.

Is it Javale McGee and/or Nick Young? My heart tells me yes. I want so badly to say that these two are the most important, but I also like my journalistic credibility and don’t want to lose that.

Is it Shaun Livingston? For what has happened to Livingston injury-wise throughout his whole career, he’s still really really good. For those uninitiated, here’s a very blurry video of Shaun Livingston’s knee literally dying. After that, Livingston was a journeyman who saw the floor a decent amount, but injuries kept him from being a go-to guy. Granted, he’s still not a go-to guy on the Warriors, but he’s actually probably the best post-up player on the team. Most important, though? No. Sorry, Shaun. You rule.

Is it Quinn Cook? The fact that I haven’t grouped him with the other bench players says enough. Cook’s success story makes my heart feel warm, and he’s the closest thing to us normal humans that sees more than garbage time minutes on the Warriors basketball superhero roster. He also played amazing games in place of Steph Curry down the stretch of the regular season, and the Warriors are better off for having him on the roster. He’s not the most important, but he’s a fun success story after signing a guaranteed contract rather than a two-way so he could get some playoff minutes (RIP Omri Casspi).

Is it Andre Iguodola? The 2015 NBA Finals MVP definitely doesn’t get enough credit. He’s one member of the super-scary aptly-named “Death Lineup” because he can score decently, plays good defense, and throws pinpoint passes to the other important guys in the “Death Lineup.” He’s very good, and he’s most likely the fifth best player on the Warriors. When he brings the ball up, the offense isn’t stagnant, and he also does an incredibly job of defending guys like LeBron, especially for his age. Andre, if he was on a team with like two other talented guys instead of four, would probably be top three in most important. But that’s not the case, so he’s not the most important player on the Warriors.

Is it Klay Thompson? Klay Thompson is best known as a guy that doesn’t dribble the basketball at all. I think he knows how to do it, probably, but he doesn’t, because he never has to, because he’s always open when he gets the ball. Always. That’s how he scored 37 points in a quarter. Underrated? Absolutely, yes. I think with a solid, pass-first point guard, he could be a team’s leading scorer in a BIG way. He also plays excellent defense, and has done an incredible job defending LeBron James in three straight Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals (ugh). But on the Warriors, he is not that. He is the third option on an incredibly good basketball team. He’s not the most important, but I love him and he should be highly valued.

Is it Kevin Durant? I’m gonna say no. He plays amazing defense, and he’s a great volume scorer. But, as I sit and watch Game 4 of the Warriors/Pelicans series, I see him brick a lot of midrange jumpers, talk a lot to referees, and generally slow down the Warriors. When Durant is locked in, he’s locked in and could probably score like 150 points if you let him play a whole game, but when he starts to slow down, the entire team slows down with him. You could argue that that would make him the most important player, but I’m not listening to you. I can’t hear you, this is an article. He affects the pace of play, and he monopolizes the offense, but I don’t know if that makes him important or just frustrating to watch (it’s the second one).

If you’ve noticed, there’s only two players left: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Let’s talk about both of these guys. A two-time MVP, or an offensive Swiss Army Knife. A guy that’s confident taking a shot from anywhere on or off the floor, or a guy that’s confident stepping right over LeBron James in an NBA Finals game.

Guys that are on a roster for toughness over talent (i.e. Matt Barnes, Kendrick Perkins, Joakim Noah) usually have little to offer, but Draymond Green is more tough than he his talented, and but he’s still very much both of those things. He’s good for a triple double on any given night, he can defend any position including Unicorn, and he’s absolutely ruthless in his pursuit of victory (just ask Steven Adams and his very hurt groin area).

Most Valuable Players are also very important to teams. Steph Curry monopolizes defenses, wows crowds, and scores basically at will. He’s a great playmaker, but part of that comes from teams deciding to double him so he doesn’t score. He makes up for his lack of size at point guard with quickness and strength, and makes layups that confuse everyone and then make everyone go “wow.” The Warriors also struggled mightily without a guy like Curry, as their entire offense has to change to make up for a lack of pure ridiculousness at the point guard position.

Overall, I’d have to say Steph Curry is the most important player on the Warriors. I know that answer is boring, but Steph is Steph. I’m sorry, I really honestly am. I want it to be Nick Young or Javale McGee, trust me, I do. But it’s just gotta be #30. He’s the shoulder-shimmying, mouth guard-throwing, fun-having king of the Bay Area, and he will be respected as such. Now, I’m going back to watching this Game 4 blowout. Have a good day.