Tyler Ulis is Already Earning Big Minutes


If you haven’t watched a Phoenix Suns’ Summer League game, you should. The 2-0 Suns look red hot in their quest for the Summer League Championhip, which gives all Suns’ fans hope for the future of the franchise.

Three 2016 NBA draft picks and a 2015 All-Rookie First-Teamer lead the Suns this summer. For current Suns’ players still iffy on how many minutes they’ll receive in 2016-2017, this Summer League team may be concerning. One name that will take a hit from this talented young team, Archie Goodwin.

Goodwin was one of the leave college young hopefuls. As an 18-year-old NBA rookie, Goodwin had a lot of potential, especially on the offensive end. But as everyone has seen, he hasn’t been the explosive young player the Suns hoped he’d turn out to be. In fact, he may have done enough damage to fall behind the new Kentucky guard, Tyler Ulis.

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Ulis didn’t have to play any offense on Sunday to prove his worth to this Suns team. His six steals did all the talking for him. You did not read that wrong; it was six steals. That’s one less than the entire Boston Celtics had during the whole game. He’s played two games in the NBA and has nine steals already. Whether he proves anything on the offensive end, which he has, or not, he’s already labeled as a defensive monster.

It’s almost more exciting watching Ulis play defense than it is watching Devin Booker light up the scoreboard.

He’s playing just as well on offense too. His seven assists in the first game and five in the second have shown he’s a true all-around point guard. He hasn’t put up big scoring numbers yet, but watching him pass the ball is equally as electrifying.

His passes to Devin Booker are some of the best this summer. They show that after he develops chemistry with the rest of his team, he’s going to be one of the best young passers in the NBA. Much like Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and Russell Westbrook, Ulis is showing early that he can make the flashy plays with his teammates.

What this means for the Suns’ regular season lineup is that Ulis needs to play and develop his skill set. There’s no point in sitting a player that showed this much promise for players who haven’t lived up to expectations. The player to take the hit will be Archie Goodwin.

Goodwin, a player who’s best season consisted of 8.9 points, 2.1 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game, hasn’t proved he’s worth any valuable minutes. After three seasons, Goodwin has had enough time to show his worth to the team. He hasn’t though. What he’s shown is he cannot truly play any position except the wing, isn’t a consistent shooter, and has trouble on the defensive end of the floor.

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Ulis may only be playing in Summer League, but he’s already shown he can provide more for the Suns than Goodwin can. That leaves a problem when it comes time for the rotation to be made. Goodwin obviously isn’t a player you’d want running the court. With Ulis, playing with the determination we all hoped for this early in his career, players like Goodwin can be a name of the past sooner rather than later.

Other guards like Leandro Barbosa and Brandon Knight will still most likely get more minutes than Ulis, but it doesn’t look like long before that can change too. With all the talks about Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight being traded to clear up minutes, Ulis could begin to develop into the Suns’ future floor general. All of which is okay in this reporters’ eyes.

Ulis plays with more heart than most players already in the NBA. He’s a player who goes 110% every play on both sides of the ball. To excite all the Suns’ fans out there, he really resembles Steve Nash without the three-point shot.

This Suns’ draft class already looks like one of the best in Phoenix history. If Ulis continues to play as well as he has thus far, this class alone can be the turning point in this rebuilding Suns’ team.

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