When the Suns offered Steve Nash a 5 year max deal back in 2004 it was considered by nearly everyone as a poor decision, and realistically speaking; at the time it was. Nash was already 30 years old, had a chronic back issue, and certainly wasn’t worth a 5 year max deal. When Nash signed that deal no one, absolutely no one thought that he’d become the league MVP and if someone told you that they did; they are lying.
In sports more often than not players usually peak in production during their prime which is usually between the ages of 24-27. The Suns pretty much caught lighting in a bottle with Steve Nash when he reached his full potential at the age of 30 which is pretty much unheard of.
Well the Suns can’t expect to catch lighting in a bottle every time the franchise seem to be struggling however they can expect one of their young players to step up. The Suns don’t have a young stud right now and no you can’t count Michael Beasley because he hasn’t been off the charts good in his first four years despite his potential. Speaking of potential there are a few players on the Suns team who has the “Potential” To rise to the challenge and help the Sun rise once again in the NBA.
Those few players are Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall. Let’s start with Beasley; Beasley obvious has failed to live up to his potential. During the 2008 draft there was a serious debate on whether Beasley or Derrick Rose should be the number 1 overall pick and since Chicago already had Loul Deng they went with Rose and it’s certainly proven to be the right choice at this point. Beasley has the potential and skill set to be a star in the NBA there’s no doubt about that but potential is just another word for “Ain’t done nothing yet”.
Beasley is a good scorer who lacks an offensive arsenal outside his jumper. During Beasley’s 2010-2011 season out of the 1246 shots he attempted 590 of them were long 2-pointers. With Beasley’s size and scoring ability he also needs to become a better passer, Beasley ranked second to last in assist ratio among small forwards the past season being only better than Steve Novak. Beasley also ranked 30th among small forwards in PER(player’s efficiency rating). Nonetheless at the end of the day Michael Beasley is still only 23 years old and the sky is the limit for him. He has a great scoring instinct, and is decent rebounder. If Beasley ever gets remotely close to what he has the potential to be the Suns got an absolutely steal. No one on the Suns right now has as much potential as Beasley because Beasley has STAR potential; that doesn’t come around every day.
Wesley Johnson maybe another wild card in regards of living up to his potential. Johnson struggled in his first two years in college and didn’t burst on the scene until he transferred to Syracuse. Once he arrived at Syracuse his scoring went up, rebounding went up, shooting percentage went up. Johnson along with the Suns are both hoping that just like in college a chance of scenery will mean a huge rise in his game. Johnson seemed out of place for the most part in Minnesota and certainly hasn’t lived up to the potential as the 4th pick in the 2010 draft being picked ahead of Greg Monroe, Paul George, Demarcus Cousins and Avery Bradley who’s all become better players than Johnson.
This is a sink or swim year for Wesley Johnson, as the Suns can decline his option next season if his struggles continue. Johnson doesn’t have the potential that Beasley has but Johnson can still be a Loul Deng caliber player with his good size, rebounding ability, athleticism, defensive abilities, and shooting touch. A player of Loul Deng’s caliber won’t elevate your franchise but a player like that can certainly prove to be a great value for any team.
Markieff Morris who’s another player who doesn’t have superstar potential but he does have the potential to become a very good player in the NBA. Morris has a great shooting touch for a big guy who has range all the way out to the 3 point line. Morris is also a good and willing defender who didn’t do the best job on the defensive end because he’s a rookie and it’s not often rookies come into the league and start locking people down. Morris reminds me of a young LaMarcus Aldridge with his shooting touch, much like Aldridge during his early years in the NBA Morris seems a little hesitant to go into the post and even when he does he seems to get pushed out; if anyone watched the summer league games Morris had a tough time establishing and holding his position against summer league players which is a sign that he still needs to get stronger.
Markieff was one of the strongest guys coming out of college but he went from playing with college players to playing with grown men obviously there’s going to be a huge gap. It also takes a few years for young big guys to learn how to play in the post, it’s not going to be an overnight thing and we shouldn’t expect it to be. Morris will be a good player for a long time to come but if he ever masters playing in the post he can certainly become an all-star.
Finally there’s the rookie Kendall Marshall who’s one of the best passers college basketball has seen a long time. Marshall averaged 9.7 assists during his sophomore campaign at North Carolina leading their deadly fast paced offense. It’s tough to determine right now how good Marshall can be because his defense is a question mark. His passing will certainly be his meal ticket in the NBA, and a good passer usually always has a spot on any team’s rotation. Marshall’s shooting is also a question mark however his shooting improved during his final season at North Carolina as the season went along which shows he’s working on it and it will keep on getting better. Marshall is only 20 years old which gives him a ton of time to work on his own offensive game. Marshall will contribute right away with his ability to set up teammates and once he becomes a capable scorer he has the potential to become an all-star.