All-Stars are an integral part of any team, causing front offices to sacrifice their assets to acquire them. The same goes with the Phoenix Suns, who have formed a Big 3 with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal.
But the underrated aspect of each team would be the supporting cast around the stars. That’s where Drew Eubanks shines.
Eubanks has found a home and role in Phoenix as the backup center for Jusuf Nurkic. Since the 2021-22 NBA season, the 6-foot-10 center has held that role when traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The big man doesn’t post an immense amount in his stats, nor does he surprise fans with his athleticism, which he displays from time to time.
The 26-year-old center is simply a typical basketball player who has accepted his role early in his career.
As an undrafted player, fans can see the efforts that he’s put into work. Eubanks is a hardworking player who has earned the trust of his teammates and fans. It’s not a surprise that the Italian national team has been interested in naturalizing him.
Eubanks can make a lasting impact on both ends. The Suns have different options for having a sparkplug off the bench. But no one compares to the way the center from Mississippi performs each night.
On the offensive end, he tries to finish strong inside whenever he has the ball. He doesn’t have the best post moves compared to the team’s starting center, but he takes advantage of the options he gets.
On pick-and-roll situations, Eubanks rolls hard to the rim and attempts to throw it down on whoever’s protecting the paint. As I mentioned earlier, his athleticism isn’t comparable to other players in the league, but his mentality to always finish strong is admirable.
The “Shaq of Troutdale” is an excellent screen-setter for the Suns. His screens often free up the ball handler, creating plenty of opportunities for the team on the offensive end. Eubanks is not a bad passer himself. As a big man, he’s averaging 2.3 assists this season, evidence of his intelligence on the court.
Defensively, fans have loved his efforts. He makes sure to contest each shot over him. He’s averaging 1.6 blocks this season, which is something missing from what Nurkic has to offer. Eubanks’ defensive efforts have made him a great source of defense whenever the starters take a break.
In their win against the Detroit Pistons, he registered three blocks off the bench while scoring eight points. Prior to the start of the season, head coach Frank Vogel praised the big man for his defensive tenacity.
"“He’s the rare combination of toughness and athleticism.” Vogel said."
Given that Nurkic plays a different brand of basketball, having someone with a contrasting playstyle is needed. He may not stand out like an All-Star, but the little things he does on the court make a significant difference.
Eubanks’ hustle has resulted positively for the team, slowly showing his importance to their quest for a championship.