First, let’s start with the good in Phoenix right now.
Don’t worry. This won’t be very long.
The 20-year-old scores the ball … a lot.
That’s enough positivity for a team that’s positively awful heading into what will likely be an eighth straight season without a trip to the postseason.
Booker’s shot mechanics are textbook perfect, so it’s no surprise that he averaged 22.1 points per game last season.
But he took more than 18 shots per game while shooting less than 43 percent from the field and just 36.3 percent from 3-point range.
He embodies what makes Phoenix a fun team to watch, but one that isn’t built to be successful.
They score a ton of points (they ranked ninth in the league last season), but did so by taking a ton of shots (88.5 per game ranked 2nd in the NBA) while playing turnstile-defense which is evident by their bottom-three status in key defensive categories such as defensive rating (109.3, 28th in the NBA), opponent points off turnovers (18.1, 28th) and opponent fast break points (16.), 29th).
That’s why the Suns did all they could to ensure that Kansas’ Josh Jackson, arguably the best two-way wing player in last June’s NBA draft, was still on the board when it was their turn to pick with the fourth overall selection.
After Boston swapped out the number one pick to Philadelphia for the Sixers’ number three selection and a future first-rounder, Phoenix was concerned that the Celtics might draft the Kansas star at No. 3.
Jackson’s workout for Boston was cancelled at the last minute (the Celtics’ brass was on a plane in route to California to watch him when they got the news from his agent that his workout was being called off), which pissed off Boston’s front office and made it a lot easier for the Celtics to pass on Jackson – just the way Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough, a former assistant GM in Boston, wanted it.
“You guys know my connection to the Boston Celtics and the respect I have for Danny Ainge,” McDonough said during the introductory press conference after they selected Jackson. “But you guys also know how competitive I am, and it is a competition. The process is what it is, and we played by the rules, I guess. I’m just thrilled Josh Jackson is sitting next to me and is a member of the Phoenix Suns.”
Booker’s scoring ability and Jackson’s potential as a two-way standout give the Suns hope that their days of being among the worst teams in the NBA, won’t last much longer.
But considering the holes they have in the frontcourt and the team’s porous defense, this season is looking a lot like it’ll be another playoff-less campaign.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Alan Williams (re-signed).
Key losses: None.
Rookies of note: Josh Jackson.
Expectations: 23-59 (5th in the Pacific Division, 15th in the West)