Four/fifths of the Suns‘ starting — and closing — roster spots are locked in. But who is the fifth starter? Who is the first guy off the bench?
New Suns coach Frank Vogel is going to give a lot of guys a chance, he told the Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin.
“I think the one that is going to fit the best, really. We’ll have a lot of guys that have an opportunity to be that fifth guy. The versatility of maybe being able to guard multiple positions or maybe it’s an elite shooter. Maybe it’s just another playmaker. I think we have a lot of guys with a lot of different skill sets and we’ll put a lot of different combinations throughout the year, but I think all of those skill sets would fit the four guys you mentioned. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Vogel is taking the right approach, they don’t need to nail the fit in October, they need it by April. They also don’t need a traditional point guard, with Vogel already saying Beal would play that role (which we all assume means Booker, Beal and Durant will take turns initiating the offense). It’s also very possible the lineup — especially the closing five — will be situational, depending on the other team’s lineups and strengths.
Josh Okogie started every game for the Suns a year ago and would be the best defensive option, particularly against guards or smaller wings. Yuta Watanabe provides a 3&D option against taller players — he’s 6’10”, can hit the 3, and is good at keeping the ball moving on offense. Eric Gordon is the best offensive option of the options, he can hit catch-and-shoot 3s (47% on those last season) or put the ball on the floor and create, plus he is a solid defender. Maybe Vogel wants to see how Keita Bates-Diop or even (for fun) how Bol Bol would fit.
Gordon is the best all-around player of the group, but with all the offensive firepower already on the floor, leaning into the defense of Okogie could be the best call. The only way to find out is to get the ball on the court, see how the players mesh, and then decide.
This is what training camps are for, and Vogel sounds like he will be patient and let the situation play itself out.