Richard Jefferson believes in Phoenix Suns’ Big 3, especially next year

Dec 15, 2023, 9:41 AM

ESPN's Richard Jefferson broadcasts the NBA In-Season Tournament...

Christine Williamson and Richard Jefferson broadcast on ESPN before the championship game of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament between the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Lakers at T-Mobile Arena on December 09, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lakers defeated the Pacers 123-109. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

There could be concerning symbolism from the Phoenix Suns’ debut of their Big Three on Wednesday, a 116-112 loss to a Brooklyn Nets team bolstered by two ex-Suns.

Optimists — and the Suns themselves — would say Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal just need a little time.

ESPN analyst, former NBA player, former Arizona Wildcat and current Fiesta Bowl co-grand marshal Richard Jefferson does not believe a one-game sample size should unveil any hard truths about the current construction of the Suns’ team.

“It typically takes a second year,” Jefferson said Thursday on Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke. “We can use LeBron (James) as a template.”

Jefferson since this offseason has hammered the point in multiple ESPN shows.

James won his first NBA title in his second year with the Miami Heat, his second season in his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Suns have Booker, Durant and Beal under contract — not to mention starting center Jusuf Nurkic and wing Nassir Little — for two more seasons after 2023-24. Jefferson sees those multi-year max contracts as a good thing rather than a limitation on roster-building.

“Greatness takes time,” Jefferson said. “… If we were to put the Suns and Denver Nuggets, both healthy, in a situation, (the Nuggets are) going to have the understanding. They’re going to have the fluidity, where Phoenix is still learning that fluidity.

“That’s the beautiful thing about where the Phoenix Suns are,” Jefferson added. “They have time to fill out their roster. They have time to get better and really become a cohesive unit. …Can they win a championship this year? Yes. Do I think they’ll be better next year? Yes, I do.”

Booker’s reimagination of his role is the swing factor of why Jefferson buying into how the team was constructed, so long as the team’s star trio can remain relatively healthy.

With Durant and Beal joining Booker as three of the NBA’s best shot-creaters, it’s Booker’s creation for others that has alleviated concerns over redundancy.

“I was one of the loudest people that said if you look at Big Threes over the course of history, you always had a ball control, set-up guy,” Jefferson said. “Draymond (Green) in Golden State when they had Klay (Thompson) and Kevin Durant and Steph (Curry). They also had Andre Iguodala. If you go and look at Miami, LeBron, we know him as a point guard. If you look at the Boston Big Three, they had (Rajon) Rondo (along with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett).

“Devin Booker has shown us that not only is he one of the best basketball players, but he’s really one of the best basketball minds in this game.”


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