Phoenix Suns: 5 Underrated Transactions That Built This NBA Finals Team

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Phoenix Suns, Kelly Oubre Jr.
Phoenix Suns, Kelly Oubre Jr. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix Suns Underrated Transaction #2: Trading Trevor Ariza for Kelly Oubre Jr.

In 2018, the Washington Wizards were trying to shop promising wing Kelly Oubre Jr., as he was on an expiring contract which they could not realistically extend. The Suns, a young team with plenty of cap flexibility, jumped on the opportunity to trade for the then 23-year old.

For Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers (who would later be waived), the Suns gave up their free agency signing: a 33-year old Trevor Ariza. This trade would prove to be just as lopsided as initially expected.

Oubre Jr., a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019, would show promising signs in the 2018-19 season with a bigger offensive role, as he averaged 16.9 points and 1.6 assists per game, both coming as career highs at the time. After the season, Oubre Jr. accepted a reasonable two-year, 30 million dollar contract to stay with the Suns.

The following season went down as Oubre Jr.’s best one to date. He expanded his scoring first of all, averaging a new career high at 18.7 points per game, and shot very efficiently with a 56.0 true shooting percentage.

We can attribute both of these statistical improvements to Oubre Jr.’s improved shooting from outside, as he shot a career high 35.2 percent from beyond the arc. With the Suns record being the best it had been since 2015, it became clear that Oubre Jr. was an impactful young wing, valued by many teams especially on a favorable contract like his. That established value helped the Suns acquire Chris Paul, which we will get into later.