The Phoenix Suns admittedly are in “rebuild mode” and it’s obvious with their youthful roster, but rebuild shouldn’t be confused nor an excuse with deficiency. The Phoenix Suns have a major deficiency on defense.
They simply struggle to stop teams from piling up points on them and it’s becoming a major issue.
At the bottom of their division and one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, and the NBA, the Suns rebuild is moving at a snail’s pace. While fans can get excited with the offensive promise of youngsters such as Devin Booker and the performances of Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix needs to start building a defensive anchor to go along with their young offensive building blocks.
True, Phoenix has big men such as Alex Len and veteran Tyson Chandler to man the paint and rookie Marquese Chriss’ shot blocking ability is promising, but the Suns are allowing teams to score on them in alarming bunches and it’s costing them games.
It cost them a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday when Minnesota rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit, courtesy of a 27-6 run, to rally past Phoenix 98-85. Minnesota outscored Phoenix 31-10 in the 4th.
It cost them the game against Denver when the Nuggets’ 16-point outburst in the first quarter ballooned to a 20-point lead. In that game Denver outscored Phoenix 34-15 in the second quarter, took a 53-33 at the half and despite cutting the Denver’s lead to 3 in the 4th quarter, Phoenix lost 120-114.
Phoenix needs to invest in a youthful rim-protector, a true defender, who they can pair with Len, Chriss and others for the future.
The Suns need to make a trade for Philadelphia 76er’s Nerlens Noel.
Noel is a potential defensive anchor who won’t command the ball on the offense, won’t take shots away from Bledsoe, Booker and others and is the young player that a veteran such as Tyson Chandler can mentor and mold into a piece of the franchise’s foundation.
Noel, 22, is a 6-11 228 pound rim protector who can also score in the paint if needed. He is also readily available on the trade block and has already garnered interest from teams such as the Toronto Raptors.
So who could Phoenix offer to Philly? Brandon Knight? Draft Picks?
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein recently reported that interested rivals believe Knight “will be made available” although Phoenix has maintained otherwise:
“We’re certainly not looking to move Brandon, we haven’t been close to trading Brandon,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said earlier this month, per Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports.
Phoenix may not want to trade an attractive piece such as Knight for a player who will be a free agent at the end of the season, but the Suns should explore all opportunities.
While Knight might be pursued more by a contending team, he also meets a need for Philadelphia who is motivated to move Noel:
Was told recently, not much desire to trade Jahlil – Noel is the guy they’ll move. Not on the same page at all. https://t.co/G3uRMqt3E6
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) November 23, 2016
Noel would be a nice addition to the Suns, one who can instantly boost their defensive presence and perhaps allow the Suns to use a “twin towers” approach to their starting lineups by starting any combination of Chandler/Len/Noel.
It would also allow Phoenix to make Chandler and/or Len available in trade, fetching more potential draft picks in return.
Will Phoenix roll the dice on a Noel trade? Maybe, but one thing is sure, they need to address their major issues on defense before it starts stunting the development of their key players.