Devin Booker is going to be out for a little while, but even when he returns, should the Phoenix Suns start Elie Okobo regardless and hope that that takes some wear and tear off of their only star?
The Phoenix Suns are still in need of a regular, reliable, quality point guard. They need someone who can take the pressure off of Devin Booker, move him back to his traditional shooting guard position, and run a more traditional offense.
Granted, “traditional” is whatever you want it to be and the name of the NBA game these days is position-less, but with Booker continuing to struggle with injuries and the team struggling to win, is it time that Okobo get’s a shot in a long-term basis?
Okobo’s start against the Sacramento Kings didn’t go as well as fans would have hoped, but it was hardly his fault that the Suns scored an abysmal 9 points total in the first quarter.
On the season though, he has had several decent games (he had 19 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals at the Clippers on November 28) that are worth seeing if they can be piled on one another and repeated enough to warrant a long-term starting role, even with the clunkers he will still sprinkle in here and there.
Unfortunately too the Phoenix Suns are back in tanking mode. They have no chance to make the playoffs and are currently farther out of 14th place in the Western Conference than the 14th place team is to 1st place.
They’re likely going to trade Trevor Ariza for nothing less than cap relief, they are looking to trade Ryan Anderson and might even waive him at some point, and with veterans leaving (Tyson Chandler is already gone), it’ll mean more time for the younger players once again, and getting Okobo minutes at point guard will allow James Jones, Igor Kokoskov and their staffs a chance to see what they have in the rookie.
If Okobo plays well this season as a starter, it likely doesn’t mean that Phoenix wins any more games then they are currently on pace to win (although maybe Okobo will have at least one Tyler Ulis game winner-type moment), but he might be able to prove to the franchise that he is capable to be a starter long-term, securing the position without the team having to go out and acquire a point guard from elsewhere.
Much like a franchise quarterback on a rookie contract, if Okobo can quickly become a good starting point guard, he is earning less than $2.0 million over the next four seasons which would be a huge savings over point guards on other teams, allowing the Suns to spend elsewhere adding both greater talent and depth.
Then should he not work out this season, much like Tyler Ulis, the Suns could just cut ties and move on – he too could also be traded as part of a package at some point as well, so long as he doesn’t totally bust out.
If he doesn’t work out over his next ten starts or so as well, the Suns could also turn to fellow second round pick rookie De’Anthony Melton and give him a shot. Unlike Ulis who played ahead of…well, nobody, at least the Suns have two young point guard who can be tested in spurts to see if either of them have the ability to lead Phoenix in the direction they want to go or not.
Unfortunately the Suns are in a position where they are probably going to tank for the remainder of the season, so they might as well get a long and hard look at Elie Okobo as the starting point guard, and (once again) see if they have someone special there that no one else saw.