The NBA Summer League doesn’t normally include the names of established superstars on the roster for any team, but the Phoenix Suns’ lineup is less than titillating even by those standards. Even by Summer League standards, only the most devout Suns fans will be watching Phoenix play this summer. Aside from watching Tucker play lockdown defense, hoping for more development from Markieff Morris and wondering if Marshall can cut down on his turnovers and find his place in this league, the Summer League doesn’t have much to offer for the casual Phoenix Suns fan.
It’s not really the Suns’ fault. Goran Dragic, easily the most entertaining aspect of Phoenix’s 2012-13 season, is too good/valuable to play in the Summer League; Marcin Gortat is similarly too important to play, especially coming off a foot injury back in March that held him out for the remainder of the season; Eric Bledsoe, an exciting offseason acquisition, won’t be playing either. And Alex Len, who would have been the most intriguing prospect to watch, is still sidelined with his ankle injury.
A lot of Suns fans took to Twitter to wonder about Phoenix’s decision to take Len with the No. 5 pick (including myself), but at the very least, it would have been nice to see him play in the Summer League and find out if those fears were well-founded or misinformed. Because of that ankle injury, Suns fans will have to wait a little bit longer to find out what Len will bring to the Valley of the Sun. What all this means is another first-round draft pick will get the majority of the attention from Suns fans getting their dose of summer basketball.
With the 29th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns acquired Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin via the Oklahoma City Thunder. At 18 years old, Goodwin was the youngest American player in this year’s draft and has plenty of room for growth. He’s a 6’5″ shooting guard with a 6’10” wingspan who can attack the basket and has been compared to Russell Westbrook and Tyreke Evans in terms of his skill set by ESPN’s Ryan Feldman. In my opinion, if Goodwin had anywhere near that kind of potential, he would’ve been selected a bit sooner than 29th in a historically weak draft. But those comparisons were made based on playing style, not potential, which means he’s at least worth checking out. So either way, the biggest attraction in the Summer League for Phoenix Suns fans this year will undoubtedly be Goodwin.
If you took the entire Suns roster and asked fans what two players they’d want to watch this summer above all others, the overwhelming answer would probably be Goran Dragic and Alex Len. With both of those guys out, Archie Goodwin easily becomes the consolation prize. I’m personally interested in seeing how Markieff Morris’ development is coming along and I do want to see what Alex Oriakhi can do since his game is less familiar, but Goodwin’s development is a little more engaging because of Phoenix’s current point guard situation.
Suns already have Goran Dragic & they drafted Kendall Marshall last season. So, why the hell did they just trade for Eric Bledsoe #whatgives
— Joey G (@JoeyG113) July 2, 2013
I’ve already written about the Suns’ point guard dilemma: Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe. But even if Phoenix does decide to play them both at the same time, that still leaves the Suns with three other backup point guards: Goodwin, Marshall and Diante Garrett. If you think this Summer League is anything less than an audition for the backup point guard spot of the Phoenix Suns, you’re kidding yourself. Marshall has a lot to prove after shooting 37 percent from the floor, 31 percent from the 3-point line and committing 1.2 turnovers in just 14.6 minutes per game last season (don’t even get me started on the defensive end). Garrett has always been a third-stringer and may be fighting for a spot on the roster. And as a first-round draft pick, Goodwin will obviously be looking to carve out his place in the rotation.
Are you personally interested in watching more Kendall Marshall or Diante Garrett? Probably not. Are you interested in getting a look at the Suns’ best draft pick that will be suiting up for the Summer League? Definitely more likely. Without new acquisitions like Bledsoe or Len taking the court, Goodwin will be in the spotlight. Expecting the second coming of Russell Westbrook would be a mistake, but looking for signs of what he could provide off the bench in Phoenix will make the Summer League worth watching for Suns fans hoping that this rebuilding phase will eventually turn into a playoff team someday soon.