“Swish, swish, swish,” were Reggie Bullock opening remarks as a Phoenix Sun.
The former Clipper wasn’t able to talk to media his first morning as a Sun so he showed off his shooting instead. The assembled pen pushers dutifully asked their usual litany of questions to head coach Jeff Hornacek, but most were focused on the ridiculous shooting display that Bullock was putting on. Some were even tweeting about it.
Bullock was hitting from all around the arc and never shooting from anywhere else, which is exactly what Phoenix wants out of him.
“They’ve been winning games without me so it’s all about coming in and adding what I do, shooting the ball and doing anything coach need me to do,” Bullock said.
Unfortunately for him, what coach Jeff Hornacek needs most out of him right now is patience.
“It’ll be tough, hopefully there are some times when we can get these guys in,” said Hornacek, referencing both Bullock and the four other rookies/sophomores that play sporadically or not at all.
Bullock is used to it, he averaged just under 11 minutes a game with the Clippers and outside of a 10-game stretch a month ago, he frequently fell in and out of a rotation.
“It’s tough obviously…but it’s up to the coach.” Bullock commented on his potentially limited playing time.
If Wednesday’s game against Portland was any indication it’s going to be a process. Bullock was active, but didn’t play a minute.
As with all the youth on this team, even if Bullock plays less than 100 minutes the rest of this season it isn’t indicative of how the Suns feel about his potential.
“A young player who has good size and shooting ability and length,” said Hornacek for his initial scouting report on Bullock.
That’s not to say this is the first time the Suns have looked him, since they had the former Tar Heel in for a pre-draft workout and according to Hornacek, they “liked him then” too.
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In fact, Phoenix liked him so much they gave strong consideration to taking Bullock with the 29th pick in the 2013 Draft only to see him get snatched up by the Clippers four spots before they picked.
Back in 2013, the Suns were still on the market for the perfect “3-and-D” wing to finish up their starting lineup (before adding P.J. Tucker), a mold that Bullock fits to a tee. When asked about what he learned from playing behind the likes of Paul and Reddick, Bullock didn’t even mention offense.
“Defensive rotations, how to play defense,” said the young guard.
Bullock was a strong defender throughout his time at North Carolina almost exclusively guarding the opposition’s best scorer despite playing on a team full of athletes. Bullock doesn’t have the best lateral quickness in the world, but much like Tucker, makes up for it with a combination of intensity and savvy.
Bullock actually knew Tucker back from scrimmaging with him at UNC over the summer. Bullock’s also long time friends with T.J. Warren, another North Carolina native, and is familiar with Archie Goodwin, whom the Suns drafted when Bullock was gone.
Those friendships should make it easier for Bullock to spend most of this year on the bench, but he’s certainly not giving up hope of breaking into the rotation.
“Whatever it is in order for me to crack that rotation, whatever coach needs me to do I’ll do it,” Bullock said.
Hornacek encourages all of his deep bench guys to “always be ready” and is willing to play them when the situation dictates it, whether it’s due to matchup, injury or even a starter having an off night.
All in all, the move to acquire Bullock was another one of the “everything to gain, little to lose” variety for general manager Ryan McDonough. Phoenix gave up just Shavlik Randolph — a great locker room presence, but one that contributed little on-court value, particularly after the acquisition of Brandan Wright.
Bullock really does fit the Suns’ style of play.. He shot 43 percent behind the arc in college and 39 percent this season. His shot is almost unblockable as he has a quick release, a high release point on top of starting off at 6’7’’. Bullock was used to running at Carolina and was aggressive in filling passing lanes down the court.
He’s not going to create anything off the dribble, which might be why the Clippers had difficulty playing him despite their desperate need for wing help. But the Suns don’t really need him to, they’re already stacked with guys who can handle the ball and would be content to use Bullock for what he is — a pure shooter.
Bullock projects as a potential replacement for Tucker down the road. Tucker has two more seasons on his contract after this one with the third one just partially guaranteed. While Bullock probably won’t ever be quite the defender his friend is, he does have a higher ceiling offensively and worst-case scenario he’s just another trade chip in McDonough’s cap.
“You’re just trying to add players and if you think it’ll benefit the team in either the short-term or the long-term, you know Ryan will do it,” Hornacek said.
Bullock’s help will likely be of the long-term variety, and the Suns are just fine with that.
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