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How will the Suns wing rotation look with Kelly Oubre Jr. now in the starting lineup?

How will the Suns wing rotation look with Kelly Oubre Jr. now in the starting lineup?
Published On: Mon, Feb 25
Feb 23, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) on the court against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Following the much-needed week off with the All-Star break,A SunsA head coachA Igor Kokoskovdecided to tweak his rotation. Instead ofA Mikal BridgesA starting at small forward, which he had the previous 45 games,A Kelly Oubre Jr.A is getting his opportunity now to prove his worth long-term in Phoenix.

During the Sunsa€™ last 10 games before resetting the batteries, which included noA T.J. WarrenA as he continues to recover from a bone bruise in his right ankle,A Oubre Jr.A averaged 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1 block in the fewest amount of minutes amongst the young wing rotation.

This also gives the Suns a true litmus test to gauge whether or notA Oubre Jr.A is actually a vital piece for next season and beyond. After acquiring him in a straight up swap forA Trevor ArizaA on Dec. 15, Phoenix assumed his restricted rights. The former Kansas Jayhawk has a restricted qualifying offer of $9.6 million, which the Suns can use to match any deals once July 1 hits. With around a third of the league having enough flexibility to offer him a compelling contract, things could get interesting this offseason with the man known as a€œTsunami Papia€.

Restricted free agency can become a tightrope to walk, as wea€™ve most recently witnessed with Chicago and Sacramento involvingA Zach LaVineA last summer.A LaVineA signed theA Kingsa€™ offer sheet of 4-year, $78 million before theA BullsA matched the big payday, but would Phoenix be comfortable forking over between $12-15 million a season to keep Oubre Jr. around for three to four more years? Thata€™s likely what it will take, if I had to guess, and he probably wants to take the leap from athletic wing off the bench to valuable day one starter here soon.

Simply put, signing a bench piece to that amount of money isna€™t smart. If the Suns match a bloated offer sheet for Oubre Jr., ita€™s probably because they believe in his long-term starting potential as a valuable buffer betweenA BookerA and Ayton.

a€œYeah, 100 percent,a€A Oubre Jr. said to Suns.coma€™s Lindsey Smith about whether he takes pride in being a starter. a€œYou know, like, Ia€™m 23 years old. Ia€™ve been coming off the bench for the majority of my career, and now ita€™s time to put myself in the light of being a starter and moving up the ranks. So, ita€™s a blessing to be put in this position, especially in Phoenix.a€

That sounds like someone who definitely is ready to graduate from bench piece to proven starter. The rest of this season, the 6a€™7a€ wing with a 7a€™3a€ wingspan will have the chance to not only prove to Phoenix but other teams around the league his true worth within his new role.

Whata€™s fascinating is that ever since Oubre Jr. first donned a Suns uniform, hea€™s created plenty of separation betweenA Bridges,A Josh JacksonA andA T.J. WarrenA when it comes to producing alongside the franchisea€™s two main building blocks inA Devin BookerA and Deandre Ayton. In the 226 minutes that Oubre Jr.,A BookerA and Ayton have shared the floor this season, this 3-man lineup combination has a plus-0.3 net rating.

And when you go head-to-head swapping out each wing next to Phoenixa€™s dynamic inside-out duo, it definitely shows through with per 100 possession productivity over the past nine weeks.

Read the complete news article here...


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