Where do Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric fit in with the other pieces the Suns have? Duane Rankin and Dana Scott discuss the possibilities.
Brian Snyder, Arizona Republic
One can flat shoot it.
One can play the one or two.
One could be the Phoenix Suns’ future starting point guard.
Rookies Cameron Johnson, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque took different paths to Phoenix.
Johnson started his college career at Pitt, transferred to North Carolina and become arguably the best shooter in the 2019 draft after shooting 45.7% from 3 in his final college season.
However, the 6-foot-9 forward wasn’t projected to go as early in the draft as he did. Phoenix traded the sixth overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Dario Saric and the 11th overall pick, which wound up being Johnson.
Jerome was key in Virginia winning a national title last season with his ability to score and lead an offense. Phoenix traded a future first-round pick to the Boston Celtics for Aron Baynes and the 24th, which it used to pick Jerome.
As for Lecque, he’s coming out of prep school, but was draft eligible because his graduating class was out of school a year.
The Suns reportedly signed him to a four-year deal with two years guaranteed.
Ricky Rubio signed a three-year deal. If everything goes according to plan, by the time Rubio hits that third year, Lecque should be competing for a starting spot and be a major contributor.
Phoenix shouldn’t need them to make a huge impact right now. All three should have time to develop under Monty Williams — who is on a five-year deal — but Johnson, Jerome and Lecque could be difference makers in the future.
Ht. 6-9, Wt. 205
School: North Carolina
What can he contribute right away? Give Phoenix another threat from deep. At his size, Johnson should be able to catch-and-shoot over most defenders and be able to contest on the other end.
Concerns? Strength. That’s a concern for almost every rookie, but Johnson may find himself at the four trying to handle a much stronger player in the paint or keeping him off the dribble.
First-year projection: If Johnson can shoot say high 30s or up to 40% from 3, he’ll get more playing time. If he can’t, Johnson has to be ready to contribute not just as shooter. He’ll need to hustle, rebound and compete on defense.
Shooters shoot. He isn’t going to lose his shooting touch. Earning the opportunity to display that is key.
Ht. 6-5, Wt. 195
What can he contribute right away? Being able to play the one or two gives the versatile Jerome a chance to see action. Having another playmaker with size who can shoot will make him stand out.
Concerns? Jerome plays with a pace. Teams are going to try to speed him up and test his ball handling. Defensively, can he handle guards who are going to have an athleticism advantage on him?
First-year projections: The Suns have drafted a player in the first round off a national championship team. Last year, it was Mikal Bridges. This year, it’s Jerome. Having him only adds to building a winning mentality.
He comes from a program that prides itself on defense. Jerome had the mentality to do that and can also score. He’s going to have to play very well to crack the rotation, but he has the right foundation to do so.
Ht. 6-4, Wt. 185
School: Brewster Academy (N.H.)
What can he contribute right away? He needs a year to get his feet wet in the NBA. Compete like hell in practice. Find his role in the G League and get comfortable. His talent should start to show by the All-Star break.
Concerns? Lecqure is a young kid in the league. He’s going to be at the end of the bench, but he’ll have to maintain his confidence and take to professional coaching. He played well in the NBA Summer League. Will that carry over into the season?
First-year projections: Lecque is an intriguing player. Again, he’s very talented, athletic and explosive. There had to be other teams interested or the Suns would’ve have given him that kind of deal with two years guaranteed.
Rubio is Phoenix’s answer at point guard now.
Lecque could be the Suns’ future at that position.
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Photos: Phoenix Suns at the NBA Summer League