Suns Summer League: Roster breakdown

The Las Vegas Summer League is finally upon us, and the Suns’ roster is looking rather strong.

Summer league teams are usually made up of NBDL journeymen, undrafted free agents, and European players trying to make a name for themselves.  For instance, outside of the Suns’ very own Alando Tucker and Robin Lopez, the Suns’ 2008 summer league roster had zero NBA players.

This year’s Suns summer league team is drastically different than last year’s.  Goran Dragic, Robin Lopez, Alando Tucker, Earl Clark and Taylor Griffin are all competing in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, which starts for Phoenix at 3 p.m. on Monday against Dallas.

Unlike most summer league teams, the Suns have four players who will definitely be on the Suns roster next season and fifth that likely will be as well in Griffin.

We all know about Goran, Robin, Alando, Earl and Taylor, but what about the other nine guys on the team? The Suns may still make more moves in free agency, but a summer league participant could certainly earn himself a roster spot, particularly if he outshines Griffin.  In order to better understand who is fighting for a Suns roster spot, here is a breakdown of each Suns summer league team hopeful:

Geary Claxton – SG/SF – 6-5, 220 lbs.

Swingman Geary Claxton was a stud at Penn State before he tore his ACL his senior year. Can he regain his old form this summer?

Swingman Geary Claxton was a stud at Penn State before he tore his ACL his senior year. Can he regain his old form this summer?

College: Penn State

Age: 23

College Stats

Draft: 2008 undrafted

Most recent team(s): D-League Erie BayHawks

Stats: 3.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 apg in 15.4 minutes per game

Why for the Suns?

Claxton was a stud for Penn State before he tore his ACL halfway through his senior season.  He is long, athletic, and extremely versatile.  He can score from the block, or the three-point line.  He is an above average defender with good basketball instincts.

He could fill the void that the Suns have at small forward and could give them a much-needed perimeter defender. Claxton’s skill and athleticism suggest he would be a perfect fit with the Suns.

Rank (amongst other Suns Summer League unknowns): 2nd

NBA comparison: Ronnie Brewer

Highlights

Josh Carter – SG/SF – 6-7, 200 lbs.

College: Texas A&M

Age: 22

College Stats

Draft: 2009 undrafted

Why for the Suns?

Carter is a knockdown three-point shooter, but his game basically ends there.  He is a shooter, not a playmaker and not a penetrator. He works well off of screens as well as off the dribble, but he rarely handles the ball and gets to the basket.

He showed how good he was playing with an elite college point guard (50 percent from three with Acie Law). I would like to see how good he would be with Steve Nash.  The Suns always welcome shooters, and Carter is certainly a shooter.

Rank: 4th

NBA Comparison: Rasual Butler

Highlights

Zabian Dowdell – PG/SG – 6-3, 190 lbs.

College: Virginia Tech

Age: 24

College Stats

Draft: 2007 undrafted

Most recent team(s): SLUC Nancy (French and Euroleague) and Fastweb Casale (LegADue-Italy)

Pro Basketball Stats

SLUC Nancy (French): 9.4 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.0 rpg, 21.0 minutes per game.

SLUC Nancy (Euroleague): 11.2 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.8 rpg, 22.1 minutes per game.

Fastweb Casale: 19.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, 3.9 rpg, 2.2 spg, 31.8 minutes per game.

Why for the Suns?

Dowdell surprisingly went undrafted in 2007.  He is a scoring point guard who has terrific range and quickness. He can get to the hole with his handle or pull up from 18 feet off of the dribble.

His most enticing trait is his defense.  He is only 6-3 but he has a 6-10 wingspan.  He has shown the potential to be equally as effective guarding shooting guards as point guards. Dowdell could come in as another backup point guard and add a little more depth at shooting guard as well.  He doesn’t fill too many of the Suns’ needs, besides defense, but he may be the most talented unknown on the Suns’ summer league team.

Rank: 1st

NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford

Highlights

TrueHoop Dowdell Story

Kaspar Berzins – C – 7-0, 225 lbs.

Age: 23

Barsons LMT Riga and Latvia stats

Draft: N/A

Why for the Suns?

Berzins is a multi-skilled seven-footer.  He needs to add some weight to his thin frame, but his style of play does not call for brute strength.  His shooting range stretches all of the way out to the three-point line.

He is not a tenacious rebounder and shies away from contact. He has little to no post game and relies on his jump shot for his scoring. For the Suns, Berzins would bring another big body that would complement Amare’s inside game nicely.

Rank: 7th

NBA Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Highlights

Gonzaga shooter and swingman Micah Downs. (Denis Poroy/Associated Press)

Gonzaga shooter and swingman Micah Downs puts up a runner. (AP/Denis Poroy)

Micah Downs – SF – 6-8, 200 lbs.

College: Gonzaga, transferred from Kansas after freshman year

Age: 22

College Stats

Draft: 2009 undrafted

Why for the Suns?

Micah Downs could bring a little bit of what Matt Barnes brought to the Suns last season. He is a three-point shooter that can also score on the block and slashing to the basket.

He can get to the hoop quickly off the dribble because of his length.  His most surprising characteristic is his crazy athleticism.  He is an explosive dunker and even competed in the 2009 NCAA dunk contest.  Downs could essentially fill the void left by Matt Barnes.

Rank: 3rd

NBA Comparison: Matt Barnes

Highlights

Lee Cummard – SG/SF – 6-7, 190 lbs.

College: Brigham Young University

Age: 24

College Stats

Draft: 2009 undrafted

Why for the Suns?

Cummard would return to Arizona, where he won Arizona high school player of the year honors while at Mesa High.  At BYU, Cummard showed he is terrific shooter with a very quick release.  He can also score off the dribble, on the block, and with his mid-range game.

Cummard is very slender, but makes up for his frame with toughness.  The biggest knock on Cummard is his poor defense.  His multi-faceted offensive skill set would make him a nice fit in Phoenix.

Rank: 5th

NBA Comparison: Mike Miller

Highlights

Carlos Powell – SF/PF – 6-7, 225 lbs.

College: South Carolina

Age: 25

College Stats

Most recent team(s): New Zealand Breakers (Australian League), Azovmash Mariupol (Ukraine), and Dakota Wizards (D-League).

Pro Basketball Stats

2006-2007 New Zealand Breakers: 28.3 ppg

2007-2008 Dakota Wizareds: 22.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.4 spg

Draft: 2005 undrafted

Why for the Suns?

Powell is another big, athletic body with a lot of experience.  He has dominated the D-League because of his scoring instincts and aggressiveness. He has an explosive first step and great quickness for his size. Powell was the second overall pick in the 2007 D-League draft to the Dakota Wizards. He may have limited upside, but he is another serviceable big body that the Suns could use.

Rank: 6th

NBA Comparison: Thaddeus Young

Highlights

Chris Rodgers – SG – 6-4, 205 lbs.

College: Arizona

Age: 25

College Stats

Most recent team(s): Bonsa ASA BHT (Adriatic League), Belgacom Liege Basket (Belgium League), Albuquerque Thunderbirds (D-League), Sioux Falls Sky Force (D-League), and Tulsa 66ers.

Pro Basketball Stats

Belgacom Liege Basket: 12.2 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.3 rpg.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds: 8.6 ppg, 2.2 apg, 2.0 rpg.

Tulsa 66ers: 7.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 apg.

Draft: 2006 undrafted

Why for the Suns?

Rodgers has certainly made a name for himself around the basketball world as a head case. There is a reason he has played on five different teams in the last three years.

Rodgers came to Arizona with a world of talent, but he was just too stubborn to allow others to take his game to the next level. He is still a great perimeter defender, something the Suns desperately need.

Rank: 8th

NBA Comparison: Willie Green

Jiri Hubalek – C – 6-11, 235 lbs.

College: Iowa State

Age: 26

College Stats

Most recent team(s): Solsonica Rieti (Italy) and Czech Republic National Team.

Pro Basketball Stats

Solsonica Rieti: 8.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg.

Czech Republic: 7.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg.

Draft: N/A

Why for the Suns?

Hubalek, much like Berzins, is a mobile, skilled big man.  He can run the floor and shoot, but he is a mediocre rebounder and defender.  Hubalek was on the 2008 Suns Summer League roster was even invited to Suns training camp but turned it down for a guaranteed contract in Italy. As this is his second year with the Suns, Hubalek has a solid chance of another training camp invite.

Rank: 9th

NBA Comparison: Goran Suton

Late addition

The Suns have added 6-foot-4 Japanese guard Takuya Kawamura to their roster. In Japan, Kawamura has played with former Sun Yuta Tabuse, the only Japanese player to play in the NBA. 

Kawamura averaged 20.4 points per game for Link Tochigi Brex of the Japanese Basketball League last season.

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