Suns rookie Elie Okobo dines with French vets, Quincy Acy hopes to stick
PHOENIX — The most raw of the Phoenix Suns’ four rookies, Elie Okobo, has flashed offensive potency, but more often has played stretches of unsure basketball.
The 21-year-old French-born point guard has been shuttled between the G League in Prescott Valley and watched as fellow rookie De’Anthony Melton won the starting point guard role for his defense.
But Phoenix has gone back to Okobo since Christmas, playing him off the bench in tandem with veteran Jamal Crawford. Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets, Okobo played 13 minutes against a fellow Frenchman, 36-year-old Tony Parker, who scored 20 points in the Suns’ loss.
“He was really patient in what he was doing on offense, keeping the ball, re-screening, playing the ball screen, reading the defense,” Okobo said. “He did it really good, and I think that’s what I need to work on and just be confident on the court and know what I’m doing.”
Parker admitted to Okobo that the rookie had tired him on the other end, but that wasn’t the only victory for the young Suns point guard.
Okobo, who is averaging 6.2 points and 2.3 assists in 18.4 minutes per game this year, also dined with the French connection crew of Parker, fellow Hornet Nicolas Batum and retired pro Boris Diaw at Ocean 44 in Scottsdale.
Okobo, who remembers waking up as a child to watch replays of Parker when he was with the Spurs, picked Parker’s brain about his longevity in the NBA.
Parker reminded the rookie to “just stay positive and keep working because … you can’t just be like a good player and stay a good player forever,” Okobo said. “You’ve got to work and stay consistent in the game.”
The rookie also chopped it up with Diaw, who played with Okobo on the French national team last year. When not sailing across the Atlantic with an espresso machine on board, Diaw, the former Sun, has provided a sounding board for Okobo.
“They give you a lot of advice,” Okobo said of his vets. “(They talked) about the rookie season, all the years in the league, the players they played against — the best, the worst — it was good and fun at the same time.”
ACY HOPES TO EARN OPPORTUNITY WITH SUNS
Forward Quincy Acy officially signed with Phoenix on a 10-day contract Monday, and he’s hoping to provide a spark to a young team.
Acy played a career-high 70 games with the Brooklyn Nets last year, and because he’s played for five NBA teams over seven NBA seasons, the 28-year-old joins the Suns as one of the more seasoned players on the team with 327 games of NBA experience (Devin Booker, for instance, is only at 239).
“I just kind of go wherever opportunity comes,” Acy said, adding he was doing three-a-day workouts in Dallas before getting the call about joining the Suns.
“A job — that’s my main goal. Try to stick around, just try to make my footprint,” he added. “Just trying to come in, be a good vet, be a good locker room guy and make an imprint on the court, in practice and just try to provide a spark any way I can.”
BOOKER QUESTIONABLE VS. KINGS
Booker did not go through Tuesday shootaround and is questionable to play at 7 p.m. against the Sacramento Kings due to back spasms that took him out of the Sunday loss to the Hornets.
Head coach Igor Kokoskov said there’s a “good chance” Booker will be out and that Josh Jackson, coming off a season-high 22 points, will replace Booker in the starting lineup.
In their last meeting against Sacramento on Dec. 4, the Suns were without Booker and T.J. Warren. They fell behind 36-9 in the first quarter en route to a 122-105 loss.
Against the second-highest-paced team in the NBA, transition defense was the obvious focal point of Phoenix’s gameplan.
“They embarrassed us last time we played here. We have a bad taste in our mouth when it comes to this team,” Kokoskov said. “We showed a bunch of clips — not really much to say.”