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Is Richard Jefferson’s ‘Suns need elite point guard’ claim still valid?

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns find themselves 42-30 with 10 games to go in the regular season, finding themselves in the No. 8 seed of the Western Conference.

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As they are about to enter a rigorous stretch while trying to climb up the standings and hope to finish this season on a high note, there have been questions surrounding the team’s year as a whole.

Debates have been had about whether Phoenix has either underachieved or performed to the best of their abilities given the vast amount of injuries and roster turnover.

While conversations will roll over well beyond this season’s conclusion of the main reason for the levels of insurmountable confusion, there was a talking point that was mentioned in the past that can be debated as an indicator of why.

No ‘True’ Point Guard?

Before this season started, ESPN NBA analyst and former University of Arizona forward Richard Jefferson spoke about the Suns and identified an area of concern he had when asked if Phoenix could win the championship.

“Show me any big three that has been successful without elite point guard play,” Jefferson said on the show NBA Today on Oct. 12.

Even though Devin Booker and Bradley Beal could interchange playing at point or shooting guard, they are more known to both be the latter. For the majority of the season, Booker has assumed the role of point guard for Phoenix.

Besides Booker, Saben Lee and recently acquired Isaiah Thomas are the other two point guards in the Suns’ depth chart. Lee averages 8.5 minutes a game while Thomas had just 2.0 minutes since signing a 10-day contract.

Before injuries impacted his career, Thomas was an NBA All-Star twice (2015-17) and in the league’s 2017 MVP race with the Boston Celtics. He had 24.8 points, 6.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game in three seasons with Boston (2014-17).

Unless Suns head coach Frank Vogel changes his mind, however, Thomas will not be in the rotation when the team is fully healthy.

“He’s here for depth,” Vogel said last Wednesday. “When we’re at full strength, he won’t be in the rotation.”


While the idea of Booker, Beal and Durant forming a “big three” has seemed to click during spurts of the season, no one can argue there have been inconsistencies.

Jefferson’s early knock on the Suns not having elite point guard play could be argued either true or false.

Booker is averaging the most assists he has ever had in a season, 6.9 per game. He is also averaging 27.4 points a game, just short of his career-high set last season, 27.4.

Some fans may direct their blame at Vogel and his coaching while others can say injuries, fourth-quarter meltdowns, turnovers, etc.

But with Phoenix near to the end of the season before either clinching a play-in or playoff spot, there is still a chance the Suns can make noise in the postseason. As the cliche goes, “As long as you are in the playoffs, you have as good of a chance as anyone to win a championship.”

The Suns face the Denver Nuggets in Colorado tonight at 7 p.m. PT.

Richard Jefferson: ‘Show me any big three that has been successful without elite point guard play.’

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Reporter Alec Cipollini covers Phoenix Sports News for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account, @AlecCipollini

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