Phoenix Suns: 3 takeaways from Monty Williams’ press conference

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Phoenix Suns
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2. Devin Booker must be optimized in his dual role

The Suns desperately need a point guard this summer, and that’s been the case ever since Eric Bledsoe decided he didn’t want to be at the nail salon anymore. With a glaring void at the 1, Devin Booker has spent ample time as the team’s primary ball-handler and lead playmaker, with a plethora of pros and cons stemming from the Point Book experience.

On the one hand, Booker has flashed above-average court vision and playmaking instincts, manipulating pick-and-rolls masterfully and averaging a career-high 6.8 assists per game last year (14th in the NBA).

However, he also committed 4.1 turnovers per game, his passes weren’t always on target and running Book at the 1 also risks running him into the ground with too much responsibility on offense. The Suns’ goal should be making his life easier by giving him the kinds of off-ball, catch-and-shoot looks most offenses provide for their designated scorers.

"“When I watch film of Devin I see a guy who could be a household name soon,” Williams said. “He reminds me so much of Brandon Roy, who I coached in Portland. Anytime you can give the ball to a player and get a bucket, that’s a luxury and I feel like Devin has that ability.”"

Tyler Johnson and De’Anthony Melton shouldn’t be the answer as the team’s starting point guard in 2019-20, so with a massive hole needing to be filled, it was worth wondering how Monty Williams viewed his franchise star. Would he be a primary creator, or a go-to scorer who would spend more time off the ball?

"“Both,” Williams answered. “I think the really good players of the NBA, you look at the playoffs from Kawhi [Leonard] to Steph [Curry], Kevin [Durant], James Harden, all of those guys do both.”"

This is the correct answer. Whereas in the past, Booker’s ability to create with the ball in his hands became something of a double-edged sword because of the turnovers, how much responsibility he bore for Phoenix’s offense, and how opponents would double-team him to take the ball out of his hands, it can now become a strength.

"“I think the beauty of Devin is he can keep teams off-balance,” Williams said. “He has the ability to bring the ball up the floor, and he can also play live-ball situations where he catches the ball, plays off the pivot in the pick-and-roll, play in isolation. We did some of that with Jimmy Butler in Philadelphia, which really helped us. So I think he has the ability to do both, and I don’t want to mess that up.”"

With a legitimate, starting-caliber point guard, Book should get easier looks to optimize his 3-point shooting ability, like we saw even when combo guard Tyler Johnson started at the 1. However, turning their backs on Booker’s James Harden-lite potential would also be a mistake, and Point Book lineups could be an effective way to close games with the right complementary pieces.

Devin Booker needs a point guard to make his life easier, but Monty Williams’ assertion that the Suns should have him do both is correct, and it will turn an overwhelming burden into a weaponized strength if the front office can find the right backcourt partner for him.

"“I think it’s gonna be a lot of film study, a lot of conversations with Devin and myself to figure out the ration of live-ball situations to him bringing the ball down the floor,” he said."