Not about the PGs: ESPN’s Arnovitz provides a brief rant on the Suns

Jan 17, 2019, 3:16 PM
Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov gestures during the second half of an NBA basketball game aga...
Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov gestures during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

ESPN NBA writer Kevin Arnovitz feels for first-year Suns coach Igor Kokoskov.

The head coach is dealing with a roster lacking talent — and a roster without a point guard. Same goes for Devin Booker, who has evolved in his fourth season without a stable backcourt mate by his side.

Booker is averaging 24.3 points and a career-high 6.9 assists per game, and even though Phoenix has showed signs of progress having gone 6-10 since trading veteran Trevor Ariza in mid-December, it comes down to a cringe-worthy wide-angle view of the team that’s now 11-34 on the season.

Maybe it’s about the lack of an above-average point guard. Probably, it’s about more than that.

“Look, you’d rather have one than not have one,” Arnovitz told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I would argue that Booker kind of is your point guard in a modern NBA, not because he necessarily has the attributes of a natural point guard, but because that’s the way the game is played. The ball is in his hands, as we say.

“It would have been nice in the eleven thousand draft picks they’ve accumulated in the last five years if one of them actually surfaced as a serviceable point guard. That’s a problem.”

Of late, it’s been rookie De’Anthony Melton manning the point guard slot for the Suns, who acquired the second-round draft pick in a preseason trade with the Houston Rockets. An above-average defender and among the NBA’s top 15 players in deflections per game (3.0), he’s a limited player on the offensive end.

Melton has averaged 2.1 steals and 5.9 assists in seven January games, but he’s shooting 34 percent overall and scoring just 5.9 points per 25 minutes.

And it’s there where Arnovitz will focus on the lack of a more experienced player rather than focusing on what Melton is and is not.

He said it’s the Suns as an organization that needs to take blame for roster holes after firing GM Ryan McDonough before the season — just as he claimed he was about to pull the trigger on a trade or two — and naming James Jones as co-interim GM. Phoenix’s issues, of course, go past the beginning of McDonough’s tenure in 2013 and at least to the 2010 hiring of his predecessor, GM Lance Blanks.

“Look, they had a good point guard (in Eric Bledsoe) and they alienated him,” last season, Arnovitz said before going down a road of passionate ranting, “and now he’s with the best team in the league, literally the team with the best record in the league … might even get an All-Star vote from me.

“This is a manifestation of something much larger, which is an organization just in disarray. Look, they could put together a package for (Dallas point guard) Dennis Smith by the way. They’re also going to have a top-five pick this year. There are point guards in the draft. Go and get one — and don’t develop them and complain about that in three more years. At some point … Phoenix, the Suns really annoy me. And I grew up kind of like, I loved the team a decade ago. I love the market, I love what Suns basketball has always been. Watching this, they have been endowed with nothing but picks. Like, at some point, take responsibility for the resources you’ve been given instead of — they’re like this kid who breaks their toys and then, ‘I need another one.’ Oh, good, here’s another top-five pick this year, because you don’t know how to develop a team, because you don’t know how to create a managerial structure that fosters any kind of progress as a basketball franchise.”

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