The Phoenix Suns’ lack of depth at point guard is glaringly apparent

Jevon Carter, Tyler Johnson, Kemba Walker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jevon Carter, Tyler Johnson, Kemba Walker, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Without Ricky Rubio against the Boston Celtics, the Phoenix Suns were throttled in a game that they actually should have won. His absence thus proved the roster’s greatest flaw.

The piece that the Phoenix Suns had missed for the majority of the last few seasons was that of a viable starting point guard. A franchise who had historically been known to always have above average players at that position, had become famously inept.

The start of the regular season following the offseason signing of Ricky Rubio proved that just the addition of a legitimate starter would be enough to improve a team that was already overall pretty talented, and his absence, as proved against the Boston Celtics at least, further proved his worth.

However, teams do not normally win without legitimate point guards. They’re not generally all that successful when they have to rely on shooters to run an offense (just ask the 2018-19 Phoenix Suns – and Deandre Ayton in general).

But this is something that general manager James Jones knew this offseason, and knows better now.

It is not like the whipping that the Suns took suns Rubio at the hands of superstar point Kemba Walker was anything to be surprised about.

And yet, here the team is, on a night when Ricky Rubio was absent, without a viable point guard to run Monty Williams‘ offense.

Sure, they have second year backup Jevon Carter, but he is more of an Eric Bledsoe-lite player who is more apt to take the ball to the hole with the hope of creating contact than he is to see the court for what it is: an open battlefield in which his teammates’ strengths must be taken advantage of against his opponent’s weaknesses.

I wrote before the start of the season that the Phoenix Suns needed  to obtain a veteran backup point guard, although noted that Tyler Johnson might actually be a decent fit at the position.

And yet, it is Carter who has two starts in Rubio’s two absences that has received the nod over the actual veteran.

Jones too did draft a college-veteran point guard in Ty Jerome, although due to a mysterious right ankle sprain, he has yet to suit up since the preseason.

So, Jones was obviously expecting to have had some  additional depth there, however I would argue that a rookie – regardless of how many years he spent in college – should not be counted upon as the kind of “veteran” the team needs to supplant Rubio in his occasional absences.

And take this to heart: Ricky Rubio will  miss games.

Having played in all 82 only once in his career (2013-14 in his third season), Rubio has missed 60, 6, 7, 5, and 14 since.

Recently, I would have said that missing between 5 and 15 games over the course of the season is not a big deal. The Suns were always out of any and all playoff happenings before Thanksgiving, thus even a lack of depth at any one position wouldn’t have meant all that much.

And yet here we are, immediately following the loss to the Celtics, and not only are the Phoenix Suns in the playoff bracket today, but had they defeated Boston, then they would have been second in the Pacific Division, and fourth in the Western Conference.

Granted in two games now without Ricky Rubio the Phoenix Suns are still 1-1 with their early-season surprising victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, but there is absolutely no doubt that this team has a very  real chance at making the playoffs this season, and losing any  games to teams that they should  beat, only creates more problems for the team come the end of the season if they are in the playoff hunt – and only a small handful of players have ever had to play through such a scenario.

James Jones has to find a veteran, presumably through trade, who can at least carry the load in short spurts when Rubio is forced to sit.

dark. Next. Thank goodness: The Phoenix Suns cannot afford to strategically rest their players

Where and how he finds that player, I do not know. But what I know for sure is that he needs  to. If the Suns were four games below .500 and looking like a team destined for the lottery, then it might not matter. I few extra guaranteed losses would only mean selecting a couple of spots higher in the draft than they would have otherwise.

But this is a team who, as of now, should  be making the playoffs, and messing around without a legitimate point guard is a risk that the franchise can absolutely not take.