Apr. 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Phoenix Suns forward Luis Scola (14) celebrates with forward P.J. Tucker (17) in the first quarter against the Houston Rockets at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Suns Summer League Player Grades: P.J. Tucker

Tucker, who has played overseas most of his career after being drafted by Toronto in 2006, played like a man against boys in Vegas. The 28-year-old veteran who started at small forward for the Suns part last season, was a vocal leader during summer league, and backed it up on the court.

It was rumored he would only play one game, or at the most a couple. However, right after eliminating the Miami Heat’s SL team to make it to the LVSL finals, NBA.com’s David Aldridge asked him why he stayed around. Tucker said,

“I’m here. We got a new coach, and he’s coaching our summer league team, so why wouldn’t I play? As a veteran of our team, come out here, I was going to be here anyway, so I might as well get some work in and have some fun with the guys, since I’m here.” When Aldridge congratulated him on making it to the summer league finals Tucker answered,  “No, doubt. Since we’re here, we might as well try to win it.”

During that game against the Heat, the Suns had a huge lead then Miami cut into the deficit to make it a close game, because the Suns squad got sloppy with the comfortable lead. The game was in jeopardy until some clutch Tucker points and his rallying of the team lead them to victory.

He hustled all-out, got in the passing lanes, boxed out guys bigger than himself, and bullied his way inside for easy baskets. It’s summer league though. No one with a guaranteed contract hustles in summer league! That’s why the stars, even most starters and almost all veterans with safe jobs don’t play. There is realistically nothing on the line for them and they don’t want to get injured.

That’s what makes P.J. Tucker special though. Even though Suns management picked up his option on his contract recently, he wants to make up for the missed time he spent overseas playing against sub-NBA talent. He seems to relish the competition and wants to show his value so he can get a more lucrative and stable contract down the road.

Grade: A+

Explanation: While there wasn’t much improvement we needed to see from Tucker. He made some threes and showed he can be a leader, which will be important as the Suns roster gets younger.

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Tags: Basketball NBA P.j Tucker Phoenix Suns Sports Summer League Suns

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