McDonough hinted that T.J. Warren is a core piece


In a recent interview with Burns and Gambo on AZ Sports 98.7, Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough hinted that T.J. Warren is a core piece of the future.

The best teams in the NBA have at least a big-3. Three big ticket players, talented stars who can be counted on game in and game out to lead the team, defensive nightmares that alone can set a roster apart from their opponents.

At the moment the Suns have a big-1 in Devin Booker. A great scorer and all-around good player who can be counted on to lead the team in scoring every game; a defensive nightmare who must be accounted for, although when healthy, is nearly unstoppable.

The Suns might have their second “big” player in Josh Jackson. Oft compared to Shawn Marion and Clyde Drexler, if he can develop into anywhere near either player, he will be a solid second member of a “big-3,” leaving the Suns with a need for only one more player to help fill that triad of stars necessary for a truly good team.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Currently T.J. Warren fulfills that third player role in the Suns’ little “big-3” conversation, a fourth-year player averaging nearly 20 points per game, he is the team’s second best scorer and someone who has taken steps towards scoring stardom each year of his career. Signed to a contract extension last offseason that will kick-in this coming season, Warren has proven to be a solid player, a Cedric Ceballos-type who can be a bucket a minute scorer and a defensive nightmare when opponents focus on either Devin Booker or Josh Jackson.

However, I do not see him as an actual “Big-3” player. He’s a very nice scorer from inside the arc although he is terribly deficient from 3, an issue he must rectify if he ever wants to be a truly proficient scorer. Warren is not someone who at this moment looks to ever be a true star, especially since it appears that Jackson might overtake him in the starting lineup as soon as next season.

This is why I compare Warren to Cedric Ceballos so often. Ceballos was the kind of scorer who great teams like the Suns of the late 80s and early 90s needed. Not only didn’t he provide serious depth off the bench, but he too was more than capable of stepping into the starting rotation when needed, taking pressure off of the other scorers or filling in due to injury.

Ceballos believed that had he not broken his foot in the 1993 Western Conference Finals that the Suns would have won the Title. It’s hard to disagree, and it’s the reason I have been so vehemently opposed to trading him.

My hope is that the Suns are able to acquire at least one future star in the draft and then another in either free agency or through trade, pushing Warren to the bench becoming an elite sixth man, someone whose scoring is counted on to maintain leads the starters have built up or claw back from a defect created by those in front of him.

Regardless of his role on the roster, T.J. Warren needs to be a part of the future, bringing the kind of talent needed for the Phoenix Suns to become a winning team.

I cannot be happier that McDonough would publicly agree that Warren is a part of that core.

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Obviously, if a team offers McDonough a package of players – or even just one star – that improves the Suns next season, and having Warren in that package is a necessity to pull it off, I cannot blame him for using T.J. in that package. Obviously we all in the Valley of the Suns root for the name on the front of the jersey more so than the one on the back, and as big a fan as I and many are of Warren’s, if moving him somehow speeds up the rebuilding process and elongates the winning then we’re all for it.

That being said, I truly do believe that Warren can and should be a core piece of the future as McDonough has intimated and if he is able to add pieces around the stated core of Booker, Jackson, and Warren, potentially pushing Warren to the bench as an added luxury of depth, then the Phoenix Suns would be much better for it.