Phoenix Suns: Booker’s return will change players’ roles

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 23: Josh Jackson
PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 23: Josh Jackson /

Monday’s first preseason game was a good indication of how the Phoenix Suns rotation will look, but it’ll change a bit when Devin Booker returns.

The Phoenix Suns made their preseason debut Monday night against the Kings, and it was interesting to see the breakdown of minutes.

They rolled out Shaquille Harrison, Josh Jackson, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, and Deandre Ayton to start the game. T.J. Warren and Elie Okobo were the two bench players with the most minutes, while Tyson Chandler, Richaun Holmes, and Davon Reed all played under ten. De’Anthony Melton didn’t play at all.

Teams always go deeper in the preseason, wanting to give as many players as possible a chance to earn minutes. The Suns went 13 deep this game, which they obviously won’t do on a typical night in the regular season. And with Booker back, and only the ability to have 13 active, one of the players from Monday’s game won’t even be dressing every night.

So based on last night, what can we expect from the rotation when Booker returns and the regular season rolls around?

One of the starters will have to be moved to the bench. One option is to send Harrison to the bench and have Booker and Jackson share guard duties. If they opt to start a true point guard, sending Jackson to the bench is certainly an option, although it’s more likely it would be Ariza or Anderson. But whoever is relegated to reserve duties should still expect heavy minutes.

Okobo and Warren will definitely play major minutes, and Bridges should see consistent minutes too. One guy who could see less time is Dragan Bender, who still doesn’t look good at basketball. He’ll likely split time with Richaun Holmes and Tyson Chandler playing the front court off the bench.

Reed only playing five minutes is a bit of surprise, as was Melton not playing at all. They’ll likely have a chance to be worked into the rotation as the season goes on, but for now it seems like they might not dress much to start the year.

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Ayton and Jackson seemed to have solid chemistry, but that too could change when Booker comes back. Hopefully he adds to the cohesiveness of the starting group instead of taking away from it. But even factoring in lineup changes and Booker’s return, Monday’s allocation of playing times gives a good idea of how Igor Kokoskov’s rotation could look to begin the season.