5. Davon Reed Impresses
With the 32nd pick in this year’s 2017 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns selected guard Davon Reed from the University of Miami Florida. Suns fans were ready to see him make an immediate impact as a three point shooter and defender, as he specialized in at college.
Davon Reed did just that scoring in double figures in all six games he played in. This included two games of 17 points, both coming in his first and last games. He struggled from the field going 25/67 (37.3%) and three as well, only shooting 10/35 (28.6%).
During summer league, he showed he could shoot from outside, slash to the rim and be an all around defender. Expect Reed to get solid minutes in his first season with the Suns at the SG and SF position, but better efficiency will be something to watch going forward.
4. Mike James Third String Point Guard?
It was the return of Mike James. James first burst onto the scene back in the 2015 NBA summer league and came back to start all six games for the Suns. In those games, he averaged 19.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. He led the team in points, assists and steals.
James showed his capability to control the tempo, create his own shot and run the pick and roll. And was extremely efficient from three point range shooting 55%.
If Bledsoe or Ulis were to go down, and the Suns trade Brandon Knight, assuming this all happens, they would be in good hands with the 26-year-old James running the point. He signed a two-way contract, which just was added in the offseason.
3. Marquese Chriss Disappoints
Coming into the summer, Chriss looked to take a big step just like Devin Booker did in last years summer league. Instead, he racked up 23 fouls and 16 turnovers in five total games. And the fifth game he participated in, to add insult to injury, he suffered a sprained ankle.
He shot less than 40% from the field and only averaged 6 rebounds per game in big minutes, along with 14.4 points per game. Chriss added almost 20 pounds this offseason, a lot being muscle, and you could tell he wasn’t in mid season form. This will be something to monitor going into the season because Marquese is one of the most gifted athletes at such a young age.
2. Dragan Bender Showing Flashes?
In Bender’s second summer league, he had his moments. in his first three games he only averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds, but the last two he put up strong performances of 18 points and 20 points. In the last two Dragan drove the rim more and found more success as a playmaker. Seeing his role in the summer league as more of a point forward, he executed the pick and roll beautifully and was dishing out the rock more comfortably.
In order for the Croatian to get more comfortable in the NBA, he needs more time and confidence. His three point shot is still shaky, most of the time coming short, but that is an area he can improve on. As a 7-footer, Bender still doesn’t have a set position, so expect coach Earl Watson to move him around from 3-5 on the court.
1. Josh Jackson Lives Up To The Hype
All eyes for the Suns were on newly drafted forward Josh Jackson. Its safe to say this kid can ball.
Josh Jackson showed his ability to play defense and be a pest. In summer league he averaged 1.2 steals and 1 block per game. He showed his length on defense with many tipped passes. The whole package was shown on the defensive side of the ball.
Jackson rebounded the ball at an exceptional rate of 9.2 per game. In one game even bring down 15. The Suns have not had a lethal small forward on the boards since Shawn Marion. Jackson won’t average this many rebounds during the season with TJ Warren sharing minutes and most likely starting the season, but it was a telling sign.
Playmaking ability might have been the most exciting part of Jackson’s game. This led to Jackson scoring 17.4 points per game and creating his own path to the rim to score efficiently. He showed how good he was on the fast break, just like he did at Kansas, taking it end to end multiple times. Jackson is an all around player on offense and an above average passer at his position. He is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
Mid range shooting is an issue for Jackson and it needs to be fixed, or Jackson will have a hard time finding offensive success in his first season on a consistent basis. The league has become spread out and with a lack of a jumper, opposing defenders will dare him to shoot and not let him drive inside.
Overall, Jackson looked to have a good summer league and will be an instant upgrade on defense over TJ Warren, and maybe the best defender on the team already. He has untapped potential on both sides of the ball and could be the missing piece the Suns need to become an elite franchise again.