As the Las Vegas Summer League is set to begin on Saturday, one of the teams with the most stacked roster is the Phoenix Suns. With loads of high draft picks, the Suns should have success this month; but the summer is more about player development and personnel assessment. Here is a brief overview of each player on Phoenix’s roster:
Las Vegas Phoenix Suns Summer League Roster
T.J. Warren, F: As the 14th pick in the draft, expectations will be high for Warren, especially after averaging 24.9 points per game last year with N.C. State. To put it simply, Warren would have superstar potential if he had reliable jump shot, but with terrible mechanics, he must prove that he can be a threat from outside in order to take advantage of his excellent instincts and skills from mid-range and within. In Vegas, some development from the perimeter will be key, because there is no doubt he’ll be a threat from mid-range and in transition.
Tyler Ennis, PG: Ennis is the type of player who may not stand out amongst the hungry score-first ball hogs in the Summer League, so it’ll be important to see how he handles the speed of the game on both ends of the floor. With terrific passing instincts, Ennis could play a vital role on Phoenix’s bench playing behind both Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. However, he’s quite an underrated shooter, and could showcase those skills this month if it’s asked of him.
Alec Brown, C/PF: After losing Channing Frye to the Orlando Magic, could Alec Brown carve out some playing time as a mid-second round rookie? Don’t rule it out, because he brings a similar skillset to Frye, as he shot 42% from three last year with Green Bay. At over 7-feet, Brown has a clean form and should be able to get shots off over anyone in the NBA, though he must made strides in the strength department so he’s not a liability in other areas of the game.
Players Under Contract
Alex Len, C/PF: Despite being the fifth pick in the 2013 draft, Len was unable to play in last year’s Summer League because of multiple surgeries on his right ankle. Now that he has recovered for over a year, Len will need to showcase his potential as a threat in the pick-and-roll. At just 21-years-old, Len still needs to add muscle to his frame, which is probably more important aspect of his development than how he ends up performing in Vegas.
Miles Plumlee, C: A lot of NBA teams are having at least one of their proven starters play on the Summer League team so there is continuity between the summer roster and the actual team; the Suns have done the same with Plumlee. Last year he stunned fans, seemingly developing into one of the best rolling big men in the league, as he was the beneficiary of Dragic’s passes at an extremely high rate. For Plumlee, making steady improvements on both ends of the floor will be something to watch.
Dionte Christmas, G: It’s always Christmas in July whenever Dionte throws on a Summer League jersey, yet he has never been able to crack an NBA rotation. Christmas is your classic example of a fringe player and at 27-years-old, time is running out for him to really establish himself as a legitimate backup. Teams already know he can score, but he needs to prove himself as a defender, passer, and team player.
Archie Goodwin, G: At only 19-years-old, Goodwin is an athletic freak of nature, but he’s also one of the rawest players on the Suns’ roster. Fortunately, he has plenty of time to develop his skills playing behind so much talent on the depth chart. This summer it’ll be crucial for him to make strides as a jump shooter, which will open up many more holes for him as a slasher.
Taylor Braun, SG/SF: Braun is one of the most dynamic mid-major players from this year’s draft because of his ability to hit shots from all over the court. He’s a very good shooter both off the catch and the dribble, but it’s his ability to create space off-ball that really gives him the edge over other players. However, Braun is a poor defender and lacks athleticism, so he needs to prove that he can play with the big boys.
David Stockton, G: It’s most likely that Stockton is nothing more than a “camp body,” but the son of legendary point guard John Stockton will at least get the opportunity to show his skills to International scouts, who may be looking for a feisty guard to bring off their bench.
Fringe and Non-NBA Players
Seth Curry, G: Last year Curry played with the Santa Cruz Warriors and lit it up from three, shooting at a clip of 37.2%. With pristine shooting form, Curry will need to prove that he has improved his pure point skills in order to stick in the NBA. With Phoenix, he will receive a perfect opportunity, as the roster is loaded with quality talent.
Elias Harris, F: As a senior at Gonzaga, Harris’ scoring efficiency plummeted, but he managed to improve his three-pointer last year playing for Brose in the German League. However, it’s difficult to envision him receiving much of an opportunity in Vegas considering he’ll be vying for playing time behind the likes of T.J. Warren.
Alex Oriakhi, PF: Oriakhi was drafted last year by Phoenix but has yet to be signed to a contract after spending time in the D-League and overseas. Unless he manages to showcase any semblance of an NBA skill — such as a perimeter jumper or improved defense — it’s unlikely that he’ll be signed this year either.