In lieu of a traditional franchise-by-franchise NBA preview, we asked Tyler Parker to give us five players to watch on each team. If we want. For reasons entirely his own.
Devin Booker, Guard
Remember this summer when everyone had an opinion on him not liking getting doubled in a pickup game? Remember how fun that was? He went for 22 on 10-for-17 shooting during the Suns’ 124-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. Went ahead and had 10 assists, too. Grew up in Moss Point, Mississippi. He’s always trying to add a bit more razzmatazz to the situation. Can put up a big number on somebody in a blink. Another one of those people absolutely desperate for you to know that Hulu has live sports. He and KAT and D’Angelo Russell are just flat-out shouting about wanting to play with each other in the future. The three of them got put on the cover of SLAM recently. KAT’s in a throwback Garnett jersey from the Wolves’ glory days in the early- to mid-2000s. Russell’s in a throwback Hardaway Sr. jersey from the Run TMC era and Booker’s in a throwback Barkley jersey. In early July, Booker posted a picture of himself and Russell standing around a fancy pool and talking. His caption for the photo was, “Ain’t this crazy @dloading?? Through it ALL my brother.” And then KAT commented: “Blessings on blessings.”
Kelly Oubre Jr., Forward
He is trying to make every day a masterpiece. He would prefer it if you addressed him as Tsunami Papi. Signed with Converse this offseason and now will not think twice about wearing leopard-print All Star Pro BBs for games. Seems like he’s started to work out with a beanie on.
I’ve seen him and Jordan Clarkson both doing this. It’s definitely a bold move but I feel like it works. They’re wearing the beanie. The beanie’s not wearing them. And maybe their ears get cold while they’re working out? I don’t know. You do wonder what the average shelf life of a workout beanie really is. Have to figure you’re washing it a ton and at a certain point it’s just going to smell too bad to do much with.
Ricky Rubio, Guard
Campeones del mundo! Sergio Scariolo and his incredible cherub skin had the Spaniards ready to go at this summer’s FIBA World Cup. Rubio’s still riding high after winning gold. Now he’s trying to get acclimated to the desert. Started out strong in his new home. Provided the good people of Phoenix with a tidy 11, 11, 6, and 4 line in his Suns debut Wednesday night. I sometimes find the whole veteran leadership thing to be a little overrated, but it does seem like he’s a good guy to drop into this particular locker room with all these young guys. He’s a stabilizing force, uninterested in his numbers, trying to do whatever he can to help the team win.
I can offer no smooth transition from the last paragraph to this one. When Rubio finally found the long hair and beard combination he’s currently employing, he found the look he was always meant to have. It’s amazing to me there was a time in his life when he didn’t look this way. He’s got to be kicking himself for waiting so long to make the change.
Deandre Ayton, Center
From the Bahamas. He’s hooping in the white-and-pink Clyde Hardwoods. He’s proud of them. Kicked off his season with a cool 18, 11, and 4 blocks. Went 9-for-14 from the field and his Suns beat the brakes off the Kings. There’s talent in the organization now. They’ve been bad enough for long enough and drafted in the lottery too many times to not have some guys who can do some things. I’m not saying they’re going to make the playoffs, but it really feels like the days of Phoenix being an easy win are over. They have the horses to be able to put a lot of pressure on a defense. I’ve strayed too far from Ayton. He put Davis Bertans on a poster last year, then went to flexing about it. You can watch the video I linked to in the previous sentence if you want to see the full happening, or you can just look at this picture, which is hilarious.
Robert Sarver, Owner
The old man was the shape of a hook and slim. He descended from the mansion in the Sonoran, naked but for his open robe, stumbling drunk around his property. He fell into a cactus the size of a refrigerator. Blood on his cheeks and hands and legs. He carried with him a bottle of Tito’s and the head of the Phoenix Suns Gorilla suit. There was madness in his eyes and he took a drink. He put on the gorilla head. He screamed about angels.
“Someone has killed my guardian angel! There ain’t nobody protecting me now. I need my guardian angel. Someone who is jealous of me and all my successes has killed my guardian angel! I cannot believe this! I’m a businessman! I conduct my business!”
He laid back in the grass, stared into the sky, talked to no one.
“We should be serving—excuse me, everyone, eyes up here. I’ve been thinking and we should be serving walking tacos at every concession stand in the arena. They should have fun names. I don’t have any good examples of one off the top of my head but just something that’s really ear-catching and establishes a positive relationship with the consumer. We could partner with Fritos. Tracy, call Ralph Gupter, our guy at Frito-Lay. Have him down here by this afternoon. Tell him come or I’ll tell his wife about Monte Carlo.”
Tyler Parker is a writer from Oklahoma.