Five Early Takeaways from the Summer Suns

Arizona Sports News online

The Suns are 2-0 with a third game upcoming on Tuesday against the Heat. We know how good Devin Booker has looked since the Suns drafted him and it only gets better and better as time rolls on. But there were other players on display that stood out that could play themselves into roster consideration next fall. Plus, the Suns three draft picks have shown me a lot as well. Here are five takeaways:

Tyler Ulis: The Summer League style of play is very conducive for point guards to stand out. The up and down, pick-up style of play allows for guards who have the ball in their hands often to show more than maybe a wing player or post might. We have seen it the last few seasons from a Suns point guard like with Mike James last year and Archie Goodwin right after he was drafter. However, I am seeing some things from Tyler Ulis that aren’t just a product of having the ball a lot. His court awareness with his passing has looked fantastic, especially after the second game against Boston.

For someone who is going to be fighting the notion that he is too small his whole career, he showed a lot on defense as well. There was one play against the Celtics where he switched defensively onto Jaylen Brown who is a physical presence. Brown tried to muscle him down and Ulis was savy and stripped Brown of the ball. He did that a few times in the game and had six steals total. Ulis is standing out in ways I wasn’t sure I expected.

Dragan Bender/Marquese Chriss: You are seeing the skill set of the two Suns lottery picks. Bender with his size, length and great looking outside shooting stroke. Chriss with his athleticism on both ends of the floor that brings the oooo’s and ahhh’s. What is going to hold them both back from considerable time in their rookie season’s I believe is going to be the current shape they are in. It’s well documented that they need to develop an NBA body but seeing it in front of you in game action it is more than apparent. You can tell at times where Bender has had the habit of making up for players beating him off the dribble by blocking their shot. That is not going to happen in the NBA. His lateral quickness and explosion needs a lot of improvement.

Explosion isn’t the problem for Chriss but there are times where you see his leg strength and overall strength will be. He hit the deck multiple times in the game against Boston after stronger bodies got in his way. There was also a moment where he was on a 1-on-1 fast break, went to rise up for a dunk but barely got off the ground and was luckily fouled. He didn’t have the elevation after running and jumping. It will come with both, but their overall strength is going to be a big point of interest for them.

Alan Williams: The former North High product is showing fight, grit and a whole lot of energy in the Summer League thus far which is a lot of fun to see. Will he be a starting center in the NBA? Probably not. But every team needs that back-up center who for lack of a better term, is just a big jerk to opposing teams while on the floor. He looks stronger and quicker on his feet since first joining the Suns and the way he is battling for rebounds, diving on the floor, this is the type of energy the Suns want to have on their roster.

Kyle Kuric: What a story Kyle Kuric is out of Louisville. The 26 year-old out of Louisville who was playing professionally in Spain last year had his season cut short because of horrible headaches he was having. He came to find out that the headaches were because of a brain tumor. He has since had surgery to remove it and has got himself into great enough shape to be able to suit up with NBA talent in the Vegas summer league. Now his story is incredible, but his play has been really good too. His outside shot is beautiful and his ability to get to the rim looks good as well. I really like his game and this could be a name to remember around the time training camp rolls around even though at 6-4, he would be competing for a spot at the team’s deepest positions.

Troy Williams: Williams is a guy I watched multiple times at Indiana last season and has that Marquese Chriss wow factor with his great athleticism. He left Indiana early to enter the draft last month and ultimately went un-drafted. The Suns signed him for the summer league team and might want to think about keeping him around a little longer than that. His inconsistency was an issue during his time in Bloomington but from what we’ve seen out of him in two games in Vegas, he has great ability. In the Boston game Sunday, he drove baseline and had a smooth reverse lay-up, he trailed on a fast break and nailed a three-point shot in stride. At 6-7, he is a taller wing player which the Suns could use seeing as Devin Booker right now at 6-6, 206 is their biggest wing play who is an outside shooting threat. T.J. Warren’s shot improved last season but his game has been and will still be within the arc once he’s back. Williams won’t come in and play significant minutes but could be a player to provide good depth at a position that could use more in the combination of size and athleticism.