The summer is going to shape up to be a very interesting off-season for the Phoenix Suns, as they have several decisions to make concerning their roster going forward.Getting bounced in the second round to the up-and-coming Dallas Mavericks was definitely not the way the team and its fans envisioned the finish to a remarkable regular season.
As Suns fans watched the Finals in great agony, knowing that they were a far better team than the Mavericks and should have never been in a game seven with them.
Then watch the Golden State Warriors dismantle that same Dallas team in Five games and it wasn’t even close to being an even match-up.
As a possible blessing in disguise, the Suns got the opportunity to see just how far away from a title they truly are.
Watching the Warriors go thru the rounds without any real threat outside of a few good games against the number 2 seed in the West the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Suns front office gets a close-up opportunity to make moves to close the gap between the Warriors and the rest of the pack.
I’m sure they watched game five of the Finals where Stephen Curry did not make a three-point shot, going 0-9 and they still won the most important game of the series.
That had to raise questions after seeing the Mavericks take away both of the Suns’ only scoring threats with the same strategy for two straight games to end their great run.
So, what did the Suns learn about themselves after watching the standard in the West Warriors win their fourth title in eight years?
They learned they need another high-volume scoring punch to aid Chris Paul and Devin Booker when things get tough. A Warriors opponent needs multiple scoring threats to be able to stay in a Playoff game with them, and at least 3 of those treats need to be able to apply pressure on their defense by getting his own shot in an ISO situation. Then of course you have to be able to match them from the three-point line, which is easier said than done.
With much speculation surrounding Center DeAndre Ayton and his contract, the Suns are in a position to either get better or set the franchise back a few years.
In other words, this is probably the most important decision that GM James Jones will ever have to make in his time in the front office.
The main question is, Is Ayton worth the max contract?
The answer to that question may not be performance-based as opposed to financial.
Is it a smart business move to allocate that much money to a position that is just not as predominant as it once was?
DeAndre Ayton is a very talented big with great potential to be a budding star, but the problem is how the Suns’ system doesn’t allow for DA to maximize his potential as a high-volume scorer in this league.
The position is the main question here.
Should the Suns do a sign and trade and get something for Ayton that can make them better? Or is the third scoring punch needed to match the Warriors already on their roster?
The same Center you want to trade can very well be the added scoring you need going forward.
There aren’t too many of these guys out there, and if you do find a guy or two, they will have to take time getting acclimated to your culture and playing style.
The answer could very well be right in front of the Suns with DeAndre Ayton.
Bring him back on a max deal and immediately change his role from just a pick and pop guy and rebounder, to a “give him the ball on the block and let him go to work” type of guy.
Ayton is more than capable of adding more dribble to his game and in essence, can get his own shot when needed. His jump shot is almost dominant, but not utilized in the proper scheme allows it to almost be irrelevant.
Change his role to the role he has always desired to play, and that’s the power forward position.
Allow him to stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting, and also be a go-to when you need a close bucket inside.
This will allow Ayton to stay engaged in games, and motivate him to bring the high level of intensity it takes to be a star in this league.
The Suns could ultimately have the guy they need right there in from of their eyes, the only question is, will they be willing to change their playing style to maximize all of the big man’s abilities.