The Phoenix Suns went way too long without a veteran point guard. They need to add one to backup Ricky Rubio in the worst way.
I have said it a hundred times already and will continue to say it: The Phoenix Suns are a playoff team.
They are talented enough, they are generally deep enough, they have the right management in place, and they have the right head coach – and gosh darnit: people like them.
But they are an incomplete team. They need help in a couple of key places and they need it sooner rather than later in order to re-start what they had found in their first nine games of the regular season.
Specifically: they need a veteran backup point guard.
Ricky Rubio is the best true point guard the franchise has employed since Steve Nash. Even Goran Dragic never put up the assist numbers that Rubio is capable of on a daily basis, and while Goran was a better shooter, he was never the overall threat with the ball that Rubio is.
By signing Ricky Rubio this past offseason, James Jones made it known to the NBA-world that he is building a playoff-caliber team with a true point guard to head up the offense.
However, Rubio has a tendency to miss games due to injury – something that Steve Nash rarely did.
For all of his noted back problems, Nash never missed more than eight total games in a season during his second stint with the franchise.
Ricky Rubio has already missed five in twenty games, leaving a sixth early because of back spasms.
Lest I remind you about the last two seasons, but the franchise relied upon young, inexperienced point guards to run the offense, to the detriment of the team as a whole.
Unfortunately today, even with a much more experience roster overall, aside from the veteran Rubio, every one of their backups are once again, young and inexperienced.
For as much energy as Jevon Carter brings, he is only in his second season.
For as dynamic a scorer as Elie Okobo may be in a few years, he is only in his second season.
For has much hope as we have for Ty Jerome‘s future, he is only a rookie.
None of those three can be counted on to start games for the team in Rubio’s absence, and truthfully, they can’t even really be counted on to play 15 minutes in a game as the backup with regularity either.
None of them have the professional experience (especially on a competitive team) or leadership ability to carry the team’s offense – whether with the first or second teams – an issue that has already hurt the Suns to this point in the season, and which will continue to hurt them throughout the rest of the year if the depth at point guard is not seriously resolved.
There is no reason that James Jones should not make a concerted effort to find a solid, veteran backup point guard at some point this season. The team desperately needs one who has “been there” before, and who can lead the offense in a way that the young players cannot.
As fans, we should see the backup point guard walk up to Devin Booker during a stoppage in play and tell him where Booker was wrong; having the gravitas to correct the star player’s issue by the next time the team is on offense – and having the still only 23-year-old Booker listen.
We need to be able to feel confident in the waning minutes of a close game that that point guard is going to know exactly what pressure the team is facing and still find a way to, if not make the right plays himself, put his teammates in position to make the right plays, both consistently, without hesitation.
Only then will the Phoenix Suns see it’s full potential as a playoff team, because only then will they be able to keep the offense moving in continuity throughout the course of an entire game.
Under Mike D’Antoni, the Phoenix Suns were able to get away with not having a legitimate backup point guard until Goran Dragic in 2007-08 because Steve Nash rarely missed games and in the games that he did play in (especially early on in his second term in Phoenix) he played an exorbitant amount of minutes.
Not only does Rubio have a tendency to miss games, but at 29-years-old, he’s already averaging less minutes per game (30.5) than Nash averaged in any season from the fifth year of his career until his last (ages 26-38).
I have faith that James Jones is as well aware of this issue as fans are, and is working the phones whenever possible to see if he can pull of a trade for a veteran backup point guard.
Hopefully he is able to make such a move soon (the first wave of free agent trade holds comes up on December 15), and is able to correct the problem as quickly as possible.