Phoenix Suns top five players of the month: Role players get to shine

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 6: Dragan Bender
PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 6: Dragan Bender /

At the end of the regular season the Phoenix Suns had to rely on their role and reserve players to finish out the season and they didn’t disappoint.

It’s rare for a franchise to rely on role players heavily, especially for any long stretch, but that’s exactly what the Phoenix Suns had to do because of multiple injuries the team dealt with in April. While it may be a mercy for some Suns fans that the season came to the end in April, the month did allow fans to see the potential of Phoenix’s role players in expanded roles. The Suns role players having expanded roles, it allowed them to dominate the last top five players of month rankings for the 2017-2018 season.

Due to the fact that there were only five games in April, if a player didn’t log any minutes in more than one game, they won’t be considered in these rankings for this month.

No. 5

Taking advantage of extended playing time and a bigger role, Shaquille Harrison didn’t disappoint. In the last five games of the season, Harrison averaged 10.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.2 blocks and 1.4 steals. He also had his first career double-double, in the Suns’ last game of the season. This uptick in stats may be enough to convince the Suns front office that he deserves to be a part of the team’s future.

No. 4

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When the Suns first signed Danuel House Jr. to a two-way contract, I wrote how he was more of just an insurance policy for Phoenix. However, House’s production  in April has proved that initial analysis inaccurate. For the month he averaged 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.2 steals. House also reached a career high 22 points in April as well. Regardless of the offseason moves made by the Suns, House should get at least a training camp invite for next season.

No. 3

It’s clear that Alex Len was playing for his next contract during April. Regardless of which team Len ends up signing with, he showed them very solid play in the last month of the regular season. During April he averaged 14.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.3 blocks. If Len was able to produce these numbers on a regular basis, then it’s unlikely he’d be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

No. 2

April is a magical month for point guard Tyler Ulis. Ulis had a break out performance in April 2017 and this April he also was able to increase his production. He averaged 14.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 0.2 blocks and 1.4 steals. Ulis ended the season scoring in double digits in 10 straight games dating back to March.

Related Story: Phoenix Suns top five players of the month: A shake up at the top

Honorable Mention

Alec Peters is the hero of April, scoring a career high 36 points against the Dallas Mavericks. In response to the game, I wrote that fans shouldn’t overreact to Peters’ performance. However, I also made that case that Peters should be given every chance to make the regular season roster during the offseason in that same article. With that being said, beyond his spectacular performance, Peters’ April wasn’t too noteworthy. He averaged 10.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.2 steals, while only scoring in three out of the five total games that he played. Peter’s has potential to be something special with the Suns, but he has to put in plenty of work to reach that potential.

No. 1

Dragan Bender was able to produce numbers worthy of his fourth overall selection. In April he averaged 13.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 block. Hopefully Bender can carry over this production into next season. If the Suns plan to be competitive next season, then they will need to have Bender play at a level similar to this.

Next: Phoenix Suns need Tyreke Evans as their starting point guard

April’s edition of the top five rankings had plenty of unexpected names on the list, but due to where the Suns were at during this point of the season, it shouldn’t surprise fans. The promising production from the Phoenix Suns role players should give fans and the franchise hope for the future. There were some players that helped make their case for staying on the team next season with their performances during April.