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NBA scouts notice link between new-look Suns and Houston Rockets

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker shoots during the NBA basketball All-Star weekend 3-Point contest, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Los Angeles. Booker won the event. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Gauging the talent of the Phoenix Suns has been a difficult task throughout the NBA community up to this point in the preseason. After adding a heap of talent through free agency and the draft, the Suns seem to be interested in winning immediately.

It’s been nine seasons since the Suns last made the playoffs, a streak that the organization is dedicated to changing as soon as possible. Still, there are plenty of questions surrounding the team headed into the season.

Who will take over as the starting point guard?

How will the veterans mesh with the team’s young foundation?

Do they have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs?

Things will become clearer over the course of the impending year, but for now we’re left wondering what’s next for the Suns. In a recent piece by Sports Illustrated, league scouts anonymously gave their takes on each NBA team ahead of the regular season.

Here’s what they have to say about the Suns:

“They might try to use Devin Booker like James Harden as a point guard because they couldn’t find a bona fide point guard over the summer. Ariza and Anderson both played with Harden and maybe they envision Booker being able to mimic that. . . . Asking Booker to make pinpoint passes is asking a lot. He can score with the best of them, but taking that jump into being a playmaker versus a shot-maker is totally different.”

The connection between Harden and Booker is something that’s been discussed heavily throughout the offseason. Booker’s ball-handling ability and assist totals from last season sparked the comparison, opening up the idea of Booker running point guard for Phoenix.

Point Booker could potentially solve some issues for the Suns. It’d help alleviate some of the pressure from their rookie point guards while also opening up playing time for their small forward rotation.

The logjam at small forward is one of the biggest concerns for the Suns headed into the season. Between Trevor Ariza, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson, Phoenix has an abundance of wings to share a limited pool of minutes. By moving Booker to the point guard spot, head coach Igor Kokoskov could create more opportunities for the rest of his players.

Regardless of the noise, Booker playing out of position is unlikely. In his essence, Booker is a shooting guard and will probably be played as such.

Still, the idea of running this Suns unit similarly to Houston is not out of the question.

Phoenix thrived under the guidance of Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and have more than welcomed a run-and-gun play style over recent years. They shot 27.9 three-pointers per game in the 2017-18 campaign and have put up 31.7 attempts from behind the arc over a three game stretch in preseason.

Adding veterans Ariza and Ryan Anderson to the mix creates a direct link to Houston by incorporating two former-Rockets to the locker room. Their shooting prowess and two-way potential make them solid fits next to Booker without forcing the ball out of his hands.

Ariza and Anderson are both well known for operating off the ball and get many of their points off of catch-and-shoot opportunities. Whether it be Booker, point guard Elie Okobo or forward Josh Jackson doing the passing, Phoenix has ball-handlers capable of finding their shooters.

A move toward the dominant run-and-gun style of play is imminent and could be a major factor in propelling Phoenix up in the wins column this season.


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