3 players who could break into Suns starting lineup

Eric Gordon, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Eric Gordon, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Bol Bol (Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports)
Bol Bol (Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports) /

No. 1 player who could break into Suns starting lineup: Bol Bol

Probably not the best option, but easily the most fun option. The Suns will be focused on winning games next season, but the Bol signing represented a minor investment in the future. He’s still 23 years old, fresh off his first semi-productive NBA season. Bol has a lot of flaws and he could struggle to hold up under Vogel’s strict defensive scheming, but the primary knock on Phoenix right now is a lack of size. Insert Bol into the starting five, and all of a sudden the Suns are swimming in length.

Deandre Ayton is the kind of center Bol is best paired with in theory. Ayton hasn’t always embraced his unique physical gifts, but he’s built like a marble statue of Zeus and he’s more than capable of handling the rigors of interior defense. Meanwhile, Bol is much too skinny to guard fives on a regular basis. He needs to be free to roam in space and weaponize his length as a help-side shot blocker.

Vogel has always built his defense around elite rim protectors. Ayton is simply not an elite rim protector. Calling Bol ‘elite’ is a massive stretch at this point in time, but he’s blessed with a 7-foot-8 wingspan and the ability to cause a lot of issues for offensive players looking for a clean path to the rim. It’s not out of the question for Vogel, who championed two-big lineups with the Lakers, to see a similar path to success with Bol and Ayton in Phoenix.

The offensive fit is a bit murky. Bol’s jumper is more theoretical than actual at this point (26.5 percent on 1.6 attempts per game from 3-point range) and Ayton remains dedicated to the paint on offense, with only the occasional mid-range foray. That said, the Suns are loaded with 3-point bombers at every other position. Especially in the regular season, there’s very little chance the offense stalls to the point of concern because of Bol’s slim 3-point volume. His ability to sprint the floor in transition and finish vertically at the rim could be weaponized better than ever with Phoenix’s breadth of playmakers.

Bol was fundamentally a mess on defense last season and the Magic benched him down the stretch in favor of more reliable options. Bol’s name recognition probably outstrips his actual basketball acumen right now, but there simply aren’t many players who blend Bol’s length, movement ability, and skill flashes. The Suns shouldn’t be afraid to give it a test run.

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