Let’s take a walk down short-term memory lane. Remember when the Phoenix Suns were overplaying their veterans, not giving the team’s youngest players enough run?
That was only one month ago.
On February 13, in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans 110-108 at home, the last place 17-39 Suns gave their 30+ year old players (Tyson Chandler, P.J. Tucker, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley) more than 85 minutes of game time, while the rookies (Marquese Chriss, Tyler Ulis and Derrick Jones Jr.) and Alan Williams played a grand total of 16 minutes.
Back in mid-December, I detailed how Suns coach Earl Watson wasn’t giving his young players enough minutes. I showed that the December 2016 “playing age” rotation was actually the OLDEST December rotation the “rebuilding” Suns had had in years.
The grand plan was to help bring the best young guys along in stages while still trying to win games. Devin Booker (age 19 to start the season) came first, then Marquese Chriss (19 all season) and soon to be Dragan Bender (18 to start the season) and then Tyler Ulis (20). Watson hoped the 30-somethings would balance the inexperience and win enough games to keep the Suns competitive. But that wasn’t working, as the Suns limped to an 8-18 record through December 16 when I published that report.
Since then, a great deal has changed.
On March 17, in a game the Suns lost to the Orlando Magic 107-101 at home, the second-to-last place 22-47 Suns gave their 30+ year old players (only Jared Dudley and Ronnie Price this time) some 36 minutes of game time, while the rookies (Marquese Chriss, Tyler Ulis and Derrick Jones Jr.) and Alan Williams played 100 minutes of game time.
Now that’s more like it.
Since the deadline, the Suns have trotted out the youngest starting lineup in franchise history. Last week’s starting lineup of Ulis, Booker, Warren, Len and Chriss averaged just over 21 years and 8 months old.
They now …
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