It's time for the Phoenix Suns to try other backup center options

The Phoenix Suns need to start looking at other options for the backup center spot on this team if they want to reach their full potential.

Boston Celtics v Phoenix Suns
Boston Celtics v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

As the regular season starts to wind down, so too does the time for experimenting with lineups. Fortunately for the Phoenix Suns, most of their rotation is set. When Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant play together, the rest of the team has fallen seamlessly into place around them.

The one spot that's still lagging a bit behind the rest is the backup center role, currently held by Drew Eubanks. The Suns had high hopes for Eubanks this year, even tampering to acquire him, but he's been largely disappointing.

The drop off from starter Jusuf Nurkić to him has been staggering. While Nurk has the best net rating on the team at 9.2, Drew has a -5.1, derived from a terrible 107.6 offensive rating and a mediocre 112.6 defensive rating.

It's not entirely fair to hold that offensive rating against Drew since Nurk is a pseudo point guard, making him invaluable to a team without one. He's a unique player who's shoes can't be filled by traditional centers.

The defensive rating, on the other hand, is something that Eubanks has direct control over, and is the primary reason the Suns can't roll with him into the playoffs.

Unlike the other bench spots that can be made obsolete in the postseason by an increase in minutes for the starters, backup centers are going to play. Nurkić also isn’t a high minute player, especially with his constant foul trouble, so there’s going to be plenty of center minutes that the Suns are going to have to soak up.

They can try to go small, but as we saw tonight against the Boston Celtics, that's just not tenable for long periods of time. The Suns benched Eubanks in the second half in favor of center-less lineups, but they immediately started to get beaten on the glass. It's also not ideal to have Durant bang down low with actual centers for long periods of time.

Luckily, the Suns do have some other options to try at that spot in the form of Thaddeus Young and Bol Bol.

When the Suns signed Young on February 20th, it seemed like it was for this exact role. It’s been a bit perplexing then, that he has barely seen the floor. He’s only played in 2 games since being acquired and has sat the last 6 in a row.

In theory, Young fits the Suns play style much better than Eubanks due to his passing ability. He's more similar to Nurk in that way, and there shouldn't be as steep a drop off in offensive rating because of it. He also profiles as a better, more switchable defender.

Bol Bol has had no such problem finding minutes over the last month. He’s become a valuable part of the rotation and is effective on both ends of the floor.

Interestingly though, barely any of those minutes have come at the center spot, as he pretty much exclusively plays next to either Nurkić or Eubanks. He’s been effective in that role, but could provide even more value as the lone big on the floor.

Bol’s biggest weakness defensively has been his perimeter defense, so moving him closer to the basket and letting him roam the paint can benefit him. He'd also allow the Suns to play 5-out on offense due to his great 3-point shooting, something none of the other bigs on the team possess.

5 free agents who should be on Suns' summer wish list. 5 free agents who should be on Suns' summer wish list. dark. Next

The one advantage Eubanks has over the other two is his rebounding, which might be the reason he continues to get the lion's share of the playing time. Young is a good bit smaller than Drew, and Bol , though 7'2", isn't a great rebounder.

Still, that one aspect of his game shouldn't be a reason to not at least try and see what the others can bring to that position. We know what Drew offers at this point, and he's gotten enough playing time that it would be easy to go back to him if Frank Vogel chooses to do so.

Over the next 10 days, the Suns have their last easy stretch of the season. It's a perfect time to experiment with different lineups before the end-of-season gauntlet leads into the playoffs. Trying out Young and Bol at backup center has to be a priority during that time.