With the recent signings of rookies T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis, the Suns’ roster officially stands at 13, and that’s without Phoenix’s second-best player in Eric Bledsoe, who is still negotiating for a new contract.
The Suns have some depth to them, so much so that they are going to have a couple capable players left out of the rotation.
It is a reasonable assumption Bledsoe will be back in the purple and orange next season, seeing as he will either take the qualifying offer come to an agreement with the Suns brass. The only other scenario is a sign-and-trade, which seems unlikely.
Below is my projected depth chart.
SG: Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green, Archie Goodwin
PF: Markieff Morris, Anthony Tolliver
At the center position, Plumlee and Len would split the 48 minutes probably 28/20 in Plumlee’s favor. Last season, it was Plumlee’s 24 minutes and Len’s eight or nine, with the rest filled in by Markieff Morris and occasionally Randolph. It was sort of a piecemeal with Len only playing half the season and Plumlee hitting the proverbial “rookie wall.” The Suns hope there won’t be as many inconsistencies with their centers this year, and even so will be strong at the center position with Randolph providing insurance.
The forward spots are a bit tricky.
Markieff is coming off a breakout year and was a leading candidate for sixth-man-of-the-year, but with Channing Frye now in Orlando, Keef is now the starting power forward. P.J. Tucker finally got paid in the offseason and despite some off-the-court trouble will look to prove the Suns made a sound investment as he continues as the Suns’ lockdown defender and starting small forward. That’s the easy part.
The hard part comes in determining who is backing those guys up. Scorer T.J. Warren, knockdown sharpshooting big man Anthony Tolliver and versatile Marcus Morris all are vying for the two primary backup spots in the rotation. One of them will likely be left out of the rotation on some nights or completely if coach Jeff Hornacek zeros in on a firm rotation.
At the shooting guard position, Bledsoe (assuming everything works out with his contract) would be starting. Hornacek has said the dual point guard lineup will be a fixture with the addition of Isaiah Thomas, meaning Gerald Green’s role as shooting guard is a huge question mark. He spent less than 100 minutes at small forward last season, according to 82games.com, and if not a shooting guard would be competing with Tucker, Warren and Marcus Morris for small forward minutes. Green shot lights out last season, but his percentages will probably regress in 2015, especially if he loses minutes to a healthy Bledsoe.
Dragic and Thomas securely have the point guard minutes, leaving Ennis to work on his craft in the D-League or most of the season.
Goodwin is also in the mix. He showed flashes at the end of last year and during Summer League play, but it’s hard to see where he fits if Thomas, Dragic, Bledsoe and even Green are eating up minutes at both guard slots. Goodwin is still young and improving, but I’m quite high on him and potentially see him supplanting Green as the sole shooting guard in the guard rotation. Green could be shipped off as his $3.5 million contract expires at the end of the upcoming season.
There’s a major squeeze from shooting guard to power forward, meaning the Suns will either make some more moves or leave a few players scrapping for playing time. Fortunately, competition sure brings out the best of players out on the court. If they’re scrapping for playing time they are going to hustle. And that’s a good thing.