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Ty Jerome makes an early impact in Phoenix Suns, NBA debut

Devonte' Graham #4 of the Charlotte Hornets watches as Ty Jerome #10 of the Phoenix Suns goes after a loose ball during their game at Spectrum Center on December 02, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Ty Jerome checking in for Ricky Rubio on Monday night tells a lot about how the Phoenix Suns and head coach Monty Williams feel about their rookie point guard.

With Elie Okobo recently playing well in that spot, Jevon Carter presenting a defensive option and Tyler Johnson being the veteran, despite the game being Jerome’s first as available for the Suns this season, he got the backup point guard minutes immediately.

It didn’t take long to see why. The first-round pick out of Virginia had four points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals in just 12 minutes.

“That kid is calm, he’s collected, he’s mature, he’s poised and we needed that last night because last night we were a little rattled at some points,” general manager James Jones said of Jerome on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo.

Jerome suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain the week of the season opener, having him miss the first 18 games of the season. He had played two games in the G League with the NAZ Suns and was listed as probable against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

The 22-year-old’s first play was what he was all about.

Off a turnover, Jerome sprinted back in transition defense, and seeing an opportunity for a steal, he swiped at Nic Batum to get the ball.

Again, Jerome didn’t stop for a second, pushing the ball and finding Devin Booker for his first career assist after his first career steal.

He fits perfectly into the tempo Williams wants on his offense, emphasized through quick decisions and lots of movement.

Jerome basically stares at Mikal Bridges here until Bridges cuts.

Beyond the knowhow on the court, Jerome can shoot and has touch in the mid-range areas around the basket. That’s critical for him as someone who struggles with athleticism, and particularly speed, as he’s not going to put up great numbers finishing around the basket or make his own space consistently enough for his own shot.

This is clearly some work inspired by Steve Nash.

That’s where Jerome can run into no man’s land as a scorer, unfortunately, as we also saw in his debut.

It’s all going to be a battle for Jerome of impacting the game enough so his negatives balance out, because those are almost unavoidable for him.

Phoenix is going to try and help him out there, as Carter is in the game here to guard the Hornets’ top guard Devonte’ Graham. But Jerome still has to check Malik Monk, who shakes Jerome off fairly easily here for a jumper.

Jerome even gets a step headstart here on Dwayne Bacon, who goes right through him anyway.

To repeat the theme here, you’ll take those possessions when Jerome played the way he did in this game. And those types of struggles will come for him as a rookie.

If Jerome plays with the purpose and intent of a true point guard behind Rubio as he showed in those first couple of clips, he’ll continue to be a plus and noticeable improvement for the Suns’ second unit, like he was in his debut.

Burns & Gambo

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