In case of emergency: the Phoenix Suns need a veteran backup PG

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 15: #9 Ricky Rubio of Spain reacts before the finals between Argentina and Spain of 2019 FIBA World Cup at the Cadillac Arena on September 15, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Di Yin/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 15: #9 Ricky Rubio of Spain reacts before the finals between Argentina and Spain of 2019 FIBA World Cup at the Cadillac Arena on September 15, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Di Yin/Getty Images) /

After several years without one, the Phoenix Suns finally have a legitimate NBA starting point guard on the roster in Ricky Rubio. However, if he goes down, then what? They need a veteran reserve.

While no one expects the Phoenix Suns to make a playoff push this coming season, the expectation that this roster might finally be on the verge of regular competition for a playoff spot beginning as soon as 2021 means that new General Manager James Jones needs to make sure that every position is filled to the best of his capacity, and that there is depth at every level.

The most important position needing depth at the moment is at point guard, because even though new Head Coach Monty Williams presumably knows how to deal with emergencies (and maybe can even continue to coach up Devin Booker about the position), now that the franchise is leaning so heavily on Ricky Rubio, if he goes down for any extended amount of time, who do they really have to start in his stead?

The great Suns teams of the 1980s and 90s had contingencies at point guard should their starter go down with Negele Knight, Frank Johnson, and eventually even Kevin Johnson and Steve Nash.

Then when Nash returned, the franchise attempted some quick-fixes at the reserve position with Leandro Barbosa and Marcus Banks – although if you think about it, it was really still Steve Nash or bust, so they were very fortunate that he never went down long-term at any point from 2004-12 (the most he missed was eight games in 2008-09).

Today, however, Ricky Rubio does not have a competent backup who can keep the offense running at least relatively smoothly should he go down for any extended period of time.

Sure, we all hope that Ty Jerome can be that kind of consummate facilitator, however, even at 22-years-old, he is still a rookie and never expected to develop into a legitimate starting point guard.

Certainly if he was thrust into the starting role for an extended period this season, the ability for the team to rack up wins will undoubtedly shrink: and such an expectation is not even that  high as it is.

Jevon Carter and Elie Okobo have one-year’s experience, however, they too can not be counted on as a potential starter should the need arise, arguably even both being a worse option than Jerome might be.

Tyler Johnson can play  point, and so can Devin Booker. But should either of them really ever be ran at that position?

Johnson has already stated that he would prefer to play his natural two-guard position, and even if he did function serviceably this season as a point guard (as he did at times last year), he is not here for the long-term anyway.

At best,  Booker should be treated along the lines of being a second point guard, although he too should remain completely entrenched in his shooting guard role, allowing him to score off the ball as much as possible keeping the defense on it’s toes while he moves about the court.

I was always a very strong proponent of Booker as a non-traditional point guard, and his 6.8 assists per game last season were not only top-20 in the league (19th, to be exact), but better on average than true point guards such as Rubio, Mike ConleyKris Dunn, Luka Doncic, Kemba Walker, Eric Bledsoe, Lonzo Ball, Lou Williams, Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Jamal Murray, Goran Dragic, Tyus Jones, Fred VanVleet, Dennis Smith Jr., Spencer Dinwiddie, Zach LaVine, and Derrick Rose.

So, sure, he can  play the position.

Although even with a revamped roster and presumably offense, he shouldn’t.

While eventually adding a veteran point guard to the roster might not sound too pressing at the moment, not only consider the importance of playing successfully as consistently as possible and teaching the young players (in particular Booker and Deandre Ayton) how to win, thus the franchise should not waste time on a player running the offense that is nowhere near capable, but, it is not like Rubio is always  healthy as Steve Nash once was:

Last season Rubio missed 14 games, which for the Suns in 2019-20, could be the difference between winning in the mid-30s and ending up in the high-20s again.

Earlier in his career he missed 41 games his rookie season, 25 games in his second year, and 60 games in year four (which was only five seasons ago).

He too has never really been a high minutes per game guy, never averaging even 33 minutes a game in his career, and averaging less than 30 the last two seasons in Utah (although I believe that that will absolutely change in Phoenix).

Even when he is healthy, if he is not on the court, Monty Williams is undoubtedly going to want to have a backup point guard who is going to keep his team in the game when the starters are resting.

Can Ty Jerome do that? How about Elie Okobo (he could’t last season), or the newly acquired Jevon Carter?

Next. Ricky Rubio's MVP FIBA stats should not be what fans should expect from him in 2019-20 (although that doesn't mean that they will be Worse). dark

While James Jones can arguably wait it out this season, hope that Rubio remains healthy, allow Jerome to develop, and hope that there is a diamond in the rough in either Okobo or Carter, all with the expectation that this season is not a playoff one anyway, that kind of logic will not take the Phoenix Suns into the playoffs at any point in the near future.

Whether a veteran point guard who can handle the duties of the offense in the potential of Ricky Rubio’s absence is found this season or not, an in case of emergency veteran point guard is going to be needed in the near future, or this roster is never going to be fully complete.