Suns coach Watson: Chriss is going to ‘take an amazing leap’

Oct 18, 2016, 1:33 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2016, 8:30 am
Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss (0) dunks over Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut as Suns' E...
Phoenix Suns forward Marquese Chriss (0) dunks over Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut as Suns' Eric Bledsoe (2) watches during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Earl Watson, Suns head coach

The Phoenix Suns’ impressive preseason continued on Friday as they beat the Dallas Mavericks, 112-107.

What was probably the most notable takeaway from the win was that with star Devin Booker and veteran Tyson Chandler sitting the game out, rookie Marquese Chriss had a chance to prove himself.

And prove himself he did.

Suns head coach Earl Watson joined Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Tuesday to talk about the state of the Suns and the toughness and talent of his rookie big man, Chriss.

In Friday’s contest, Chriss and Bogut got tangled, and at the end of a play the veteran threw an elbow to Chriss’ chest.

“So Marquese’s natural reaction was to nicely put him on the ground,” Watson said. “He has to stand up for himself; I can never stand between a young player (who) gets hit. He just has to take a stand and let the league know that ‘I’m not mentally as young as my age.’

“And Marquese responded well — 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, he had 17 points, critical threes, some big-time dunks and finishes in the paint, four blocked shots above the square. I think it (the confrontation) just turned him to another level, which we love.”

The 19-year-old Chriss showed Suns fans why they should be excited about his future, and in five preseason games has done nothing to shake the organization’s confidence that he will be the type of player they were expecting. He is averaging 13.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, while also chipping in seven steals and six blocked shots.

In the 6-foot-10 Chriss, who was chosen eighth overall after one season at Washington, the Suns felt like they were getting a versatile and athletic big guy who can shoot consistently from long range.

“In draft workouts we do a 3-point drill, and he was one of the highest numbers for big men, if I’m not mistaken, he had the highest conversion rate of makes, so we knew coming into this season, he needed to get NBA reps,” Watson said. “You see him developing very quickly, he never had a chance to have consistent NBA reps and (just had) work ethic alone with everything he’s done drill-wise, so you’re going to see him take an amazing leap.”

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