3 Phoenix Suns players whose trade value increased in 2023.
1. Jock Landale
If this was a popularity contest, center Jock Landale may just win this in a landslide. He quickly became a cult hero with the Suns, and had his moment in the postseason which cemented his place on this list.
That game coming in the final outing of the season for the franchise, as they were felled by the Nuggets. Landale started that game in place of the injured Ayton, and had 13 points and five rebounds in over 30 minutes of action. Over double the amount of court time he saw each night during the regular season.
Landale finally supplanted Bismack Biyombo as the backup big man, and in doing so he presented a troubling question for the organization to try to answer in the coming months. Landale is restricted free agent, and the Suns would be wise to ditch Biyombo altogether and have the Australian come back as their backup.
That in itself is proof of his value increasing, but the series against the Nuggets also brought up the uncomfortable reality that perhaps Landale was better than Ayton in certain situations. To be clear, Ayton is much the better player. But Landale has the kind of no nonsense, diligent rim-running attitude that works so well with star players like Durant and Booker.
Ayton rightly wants touches and to be able to take shots, and he will also make over $30 million a season for the next three years with a figure that will continue to rise. If you are able to get a player who is much cheaper and who is happy to defer to others, while also providing a level of hard work and defensive play that helps the team, then you go in that direction.
The reality however is that Landale will only ever work for the Suns as somebody who plays hard for 20-25 minutes. But given where he was to start the season, to be even having this conversation is a remarkable turnaround for a player who has certainly found a role for himself in the league. It is fortune that the Suns were the ones who benefitted.