3 players fighting to be the Phoenix Suns’ fifth starter.
2. Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon represents a compelling case to be this team’s fifth starter. Unlike Payne, Gordon is most certainly not a traditional floor general at all. But next to Beal, he would be a much better guard option on the defensive end.
In fact it was those defensive chops that made the Suns go out and sign him to a two year, $6 million deal. In last season’s playoffs, Gordon spent a lot of time while with the L.A. Clippers hounding and annoying Booker. He has no problem guarding bigger bodies, and seems to relish the challenge.
In theory that should be problem solved then, right? Not quite, because Gordon is 35-years-old, and he has been brought in to be a player who can mask the future defensive woes of this roster when it matters most, in the postseason. What the Suns absolutely want to avoid is running him into the ground in Charlotte in November, then having him out injured when he is really needed.
So while Gordon is as good a player as any for this job, he shouldn’t get it for all of the regular season if the organization want to be smart about preserving his body. Make no mistake, they should definitely try lineups where the Suns’ four stars are out there alongside Gordon. But doesn’t that feel more like a closing group, and not one that starts a game?
The main beneficiary of Gordon in this role would surely be Beal. He could take the weaker assignment on the defensive end, and then move about offensively to put up somewhere close to 30 points per night. He could even indulge his playmaking side a small bit more as well, and give the Suns another way to hurt opponents. This can work, but it shouldn’t over a whole season.