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Coach Hornacek sheds light on plan for young Suns

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, pumps his fist after scoring against the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

LISTEN: Jeff Hornacek, Suns head coach

The 2016 Suns season is not what head coach Jeff Hornacek had in mind.

With his team sitting at 13-26 and 12th in the West, Hornacek said the upcoming three-game road trip against the Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves might dictate what the team does the rest of the year.

Phoenix has struggled since point guard Eric Bledsoe tore his meniscus last month. The  sixth-year pro was having a career year at the time of his injury, averaging 20.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.

The Suns were 12-19 with Bledsoe, but the team has gone just 1-7 since he was shelved. Their struggles have led many to speculate if it’s now time to shift the team’s focus to solely on the development of younger players such as Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and T.J. Warren.

“There is always talk from Ryan (McDonough) and Robert (Sarver) on what should go on out there, but it is always up to the coaches of how we want to play it,” Hornacek told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “I don’t think we’re at that point yet where we just say we’re going to play all the young guys. The young guys are playing right now because they’ve earned it, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

Currently, Booker leads all rookies in 3-point percentage (45.6) and ranks in the top five among first-year players in overall field-goal percentage (47.7), but only averages 18.1 minutes per game. Warren leads the trio of young guys at 23.1 minutes per outing, and Goodwin has averaged 11.3 minutes in 19 games.

Warren, the team’s third leading scorer, is averaging 11.8 points per game, and Booker has scored in double-digits in each of his last five. The former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging 11 points, three rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as a starter.

“If it gets down to late March and you’re totally out of the playoff picture, then do you play these guys 35 minutes and get them their experience,” Hornacek said. “Maybe that happens then, but for now we’re still trying to win games.”


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