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Suns GM: Last 23 games of season are ‘huge’ for Marquese Chriss

Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss, front, looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, of Serbia, defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Coming off a solid rookie season, all signs were pointing up for power forward Marquese Chriss in year two with the Phoenix Suns.

Seen as one of the most raw players in his draft class, Chriss showed real improvement in the last half of the season, making NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

That is, essentially, what has made his 2017-18 campaign all the more disappointing.

While occasionally showing flashes of a jump in his sophomore NBA season, Chriss’ scoring is down from 9.2 to 6.9 points a game and his field goal percentage has dropped from 44.9 percent to 40.4 percent.

His 3-point shooting at the end of the season, a 36 percent mark after the All-Star break, indicated there may be more consistency coming in year two. That hasn’t been the case, though, as it’s another drop-off from 32.1 percent to 29.6 percent.

Coming back recently from a hip injury, having Dragan Bender playing the best basketball of his career in his place and with those struggles in mind, it’s a big stretch for Chriss as the season comes to a close.

“They’re huge,” McDonough said of the remaining 23 games for Chriss to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo Wednesday.

“We’re really looking to evaluate all of our young players, but Marquese in particular, you guys know what he can do in terms of the physical tools and the talent and the athleticism, but we’d like to see a lot of consistency over the last 23 games.”

McDonough alluded to the possibility of what Chriss shows in the remainder of the season influencing some decisions they make in the offseason.

“In some ways, if he’s able to show that consistency that that’ll help dictate what we do or don’t do this summer,” McDonough said.

Names in free agency like Clint Capela, Aaron Gordon and Jabari Parker are on the bigs market, while there are several potential big-time names at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft class, including Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Jaren Jackson and Mohamed Bamba.

If the Suns were to add one or more of those names in the offseason, it would very likely take away some playing time for Chriss and Bender. That’s the harsh reality the team has to face for two former top-10 picks that have failed to meet the expectations of that label thus far.


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