The Phoenix Suns should transition T.J. Warren to a sixth man role now


The Phoenix Suns have important decisions to make in the upcoming months, but one decision the club should make now is to make T.J. Warren their sixth man.

T.J. Warren has been second only to Devin Booker this season as the Phoenix Suns‘ best player. It’s great for the Suns to see one of their draft picks develop into such an offensive threat. However while Warren has had a career season, the Suns aren’t. Currently, the Suns have the second worst record in the NBA and are bound for a top pick in the draft. With the playoffs out of sights, the Suns should start focusing on shaping every player on the roster for their future roles. Warren’s future role with the Suns’ should be as the team’s sixth man and the club should have him getting use to that role now.

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The Suns are all but assured one of the top picks in this summer’s draft, so now is the time the coaching staff and front office should start prepping the players for their future roles. For example, in the past I have written that the Suns should play Dragan Bender at center for the rest of the season. The Suns should be focusing on all their young players and their future roles, which includes rookie Josh Jackson. Jackson has been starting along side Warren while Booker has been injured and has been doing well as a starter. As long as the former fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft continues to develop offensively, he will become a better two-way player than Warren.

Jackson will need to be a starter to continue his growth whereas Warren may be close to his ceiling already. Jackson’s natural position is at small forward and playing him out of position just so that Warren can continue to start would do him a disservice. Warren is a defensive liability at his natural position and would be out matched by most other power forwards if he started at that position.

Warren would be a stellar scoring option off the bench. He would be one of the few sixth men in the league that could create his own shot at an efficient rate. Warren may lose a few minutes per game coming off the bench, but overall he’d still be getting plenty of minutes. Warren wouldn’t be exposed against other teams’ second unit forwards on defense often.

Moving Warren to the bench would allow Jackson to grow more and have more freedom on offense, but there’s an even more important aspect to this. If Warren starts coming off the bench this season, he will have time to adjust to the role now versus the beginning of next season when the team has the possibility to compete for the playoffs.

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Once Booker becomes healthy and can play again, interim head coach Jay Triano needs to move Warren to the bench. Having Warren has a sixth man has so many benefits for the Phoenix Suns for the long term.