No NBA roster has more former Wildcats than the Phoenix Suns. Even though Eric Bledsoe is the only former Cat without Final Four experience, they are not seeing similar success at the professional level. Only the Brooklyn Nets have a worse record than the Suns.
Committed to a rebuild with young talent and experienced vets, The Ringer profiled the Suns’ goals with their current roster. At the center of it all is Devin Booker. The organization’s first step: put Booker in uncomfortable situations:
(Suns GM Ryan) McDonough told me that during predraft workouts, the Suns run prospects through drills that are designed to test skills they might be uncomfortable with. For Booker, it was ballhandling. He’s pretty comfortable now. This season, his most-used play is the pick-and-roll, and while he isn’t particularly efficient, scoring just 0.77 points per possession, he is getting reps. “You can’t ask him to be great without first giving him the opportunity to fail,” said (coach Earl) Watson. The Suns are developing Booker into a combo guard by giving him the freedom to experiment.
Of course, the article had to provide some of context by discussing his experience with the Wildcats:
After being used almost exclusively as a spot-up shooter as a freshman at Kentucky, Booker has expanded his game with the Suns, logging the 27th-most pick-and-roll possessions in the NBA. Booker seldom ran pick-and-rolls with the Wildcats, playing more of a Kyle Korver role in John Calipari’s offense, running off screens and spacing the floor, making his NBA career something like an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist. Booker isn’t surprised, though. “That was how I was playing a lot of my life until I got to Kentucky,” he said. Booker was one of a record-tying six Kentucky players drafted in 2015. “If you just go off college, you’d think Karl Towns was a post-up player. … We all sacrificed and it worked out well for us.”
Described as an “All-Star in the making,” Booker will be in Phoenix for the foreseeable future. But what about Eric Bledsoe? The combo guard is currently Phoenix’s most valuable trade asset.
Bledsoe, 27, is the only player on the team older than 25 and younger than 30, which puts him in limbo on this particular roster. He’s the avatar of the Suns’ organizational dilemma. While Bledsoe is currently the team’s most consistent performer and a stabilizing force, he’s also the best trade asset (aside from the picks and the youth) McDonough has. You could position him as free-agent bait, but is anyone coming to Phoenix due to Bledsoe? He is signed for a bargain contract of $15 million through 2019, so a pseudo-contender with fantasies of making a playoff push, maybe one with a first-round pick in the loaded 2017 draft, could make a deal for him.
The article is the most in-depth feature you’ll find on
the Suns Kentucky West. It’s worth a read to see where all of the Wildcats stand and how they can find success in the future.