The Summer Suns fell short of a championship in Las Vegas, but it’s hard to argue any other team brought more intrigue to the table.
In a format that lends to sloppy, disjointed basketball, coach Nate Bjorkgren’s Summer League team didn’t feel rough on the eyes. Even when Devin Booker had enough of ripping through inferior competition, Marquese Chriss stepped aside due to an illness and Dragan Bender sat out with an ankle injury, Phoenix still kept things entertaining.
And for that, a number of Suns earned mention from two of the NBA’s most keen observers following their visit to Vegas.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver shared good and bad from the Suns this past week.
Second-best rookie — Tyler Ulis: “Ulis posted an impressive 3.45 assist-to-turnover ratio, setting up teammates while taking care of the ball. While he had a more difficult time finishing over bigger defenders (Ulis shot 43.5 percent on 2-point attempts), he compensated for his small stature on defense with nearly three steals per game.” — ESPN’s Kevin Pelton
Most disappointing rookie — Dragan Bender: “Spending much of his time on the perimeter — partly because he started at small forward before Chriss was sidelined by illness — Bender took two-thirds of his shots from 3-point range and made them at just a 26.5 percent clip. Though he showed promise as a passer, Bender had just five assists against 19 turnovers, and he predictably got pushed around on the glass.” — ESPN’s Kevin Pelton
— Rich Anthony (@True_Rys) July 17, 2016
Second-best veteran + Best shooter — Devin Booker: “Serving as a go-to guy in last year’s second half has made Booker more polished and confident off the dribble, and he handed out 13 assists in addition to scoring 52 points in two games. Alas, Booker’s infamously low steal rate carried over too — he didn’t have one in 67 minutes of action.” — ESPN’s Kevin Pelton
Worst free throws — Dragan Bender: “Bender sure didn’t look like he wanted any part of his two chances to knock the Nuggets out of the tournament (in the quarterfinals). After drawing a foul on a jumper with 0.4 seconds left, Bender badly missed both of his two chances to give Phoenix the win, much to the crowd’s dismay.” — Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver
Dragan Bender bricks two free throws in summer league playoffs, game goes to overtime. pic.twitter.com/bhnLX9WD8o
— Stephen Noh (@hungarianjordan) July 17, 2016
Best save — Tyler Ulis: “There was a silver lining to Bender’s foul line misfortune.” — Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver Best rebounder — Alan Williams: “While not quite as impressive offensively this time around, Williams beasted on the glass, pulling down 23.1 percent of all available rebounds according to RealGM.com — including an incredible 17.4 percent on the offensive glass.” — ESPN’s Kevin Pelton Best dunker — Troy Williams: ” Williams spent much of his time in Vegas above the rim, at least when he wasn’t hoping to prove to possible NBA suitors that he’s also capable beyond the arc. (Williams shot 26.3 percent on 3-point attempts, but 74.1 percent on 2s, mostly dunks.)” — ESPN’s Kevin Pelton https://twitter.com/Suns/status/754456712841572353 Worst defense — Troy Williams: “This one has to be a three-way tie. In no particular order… 1) Phoenix’s Troy Williams seemingly has both of his ankles broken simultaneously by Denver’s Axel Toupane. It’s a really bad sign when the crossover takes place at the elbow and the defender crashes out of bounds to the baseline.” — Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver
(Wrong end of) Best poster — Marquese Chriss: “There’s always too many to choose from, but this year’s winner comes courtesy of Jake Layman. Portland’s rookie forward managed to dunk over Phoenix lottery pick Marquese Chriss before taking a hard blow to the head and crashing hard to the court.” — Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver