Let’s not give up on Marquese Chriss just yet

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 26: Marquese Chriss
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 26: Marquese Chriss /

In the midst of an up and down season, Marquese Chriss is frustrating Suns fans with his inconsistent play and “lackadaisical” attitude.

I am a fan of Marquese Chriss. I like the attitude he plays with and his willing to stick up for his teammates. When he’s ON he plays with an intensity only matched by Devon Booker. I like the excitement of seeing him running down the court for a possible lob from Booker or Ulis. But, I know that as the days pass I am more and more in the minority.

As the trade deadline approaches, mock trades sprout up in abundance. ESPN’s trade machine becomes a high use commodity for all of us wannabe general managers. Most of these trades feature one player as the primary asset to give away.

A lot of fans are done with the Chriss experiment and are calling for the Suns to move him. Personally, I believe it is far too early to give up on not only a high draft pick (drafted 8th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft) but a young player (20-years-old) with gobs of potential.

But there is a downside to Chriss.

He is immature for his age. We saw flashes of that last year with the constant arguing of calls (which hasn’t gotten better) as well as the technical fouls (11 last season). It came to a head this past Summer League when Chriss showed up visibly overweight. His play this year has also suffered.

He is still visibly lost on the court at times and his attitude is still not great. He seems to struggle when asked to come off of the bench. Some even compare his attitude the likes of one or both of the Morris twins – which, to me, is an exaggeration.

Granted, he was recently given a “cool off” day due to an argument with an assistant coach. But that happens when players become frustrated.

Chriss has potential. A lot of potential. He is a highly athletic player who, if given a chance, can become a great 3 and D player in the league. He has shown flashes of this already by becaming the fourth player in NBA history to record 100 3-pointers made, 100 blocks and 100 steals before the age of 21, joining the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. That’s an exclusive list of players. What he is sorely missing is someone to help guide him to become that player.

My argument is this. He has only been playing competitive basketball for roughly five years prior to being drafted. Chriss played football until he broke his collar bone in 8th grade. Most professional basketball players have been playing most of their lives. He has shown this year he is capable of some improvement if given proper coaching.

Playing under Earl Watson last year was far more harmful than good and may have lead to a step back in production this year. Under Interim Head Coach Jay Triano Chriss is being held more accountable for his play and has shown that it can work. He himself admitted he was out of shape earlier in the season and knows he needs to be better. That in itself is a step in the right direction.

The Suns saw the potential of Chriss and we willing to take a chance. It is far too early to give up on a player that, if given time and coaching, he can become a cornerstone of a franchise.

Next: A breakdown of Dragan Bender, past and future

If the Suns are getting a star player then by all means trade whoever they need to. But, if that star player isn’t available, the Suns need to be patient with their young players and develop them. There’s nothing worse than giving up on a player and they become a star for another team.