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Marquese Chriss Ready to Build on Rookie Year

Suns forward Marquese Chriss is improving this offseason and is hoping for a bigger role, writes Jonathan Concool.

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The future is certainly looking bright in Phoenix after the Suns took highly sought after forward Josh Jackson with the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft. Phoenix has made it very clear that they are focused on developing a young core to build around after taking themselves out of the Paul Millsap chase a few weeks ago. The Suns have been able to build a very promising future through the draft with guys such as Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, Tyler Ulis and Marquese Chriss.

Chriss, drafted eighth overall out of Washington by the Sacramento Kings last year, had his rights subsequently traded to Phoenix for the Suns’ 13th and 28th picks. Marquese had a slow start to his NBA rookie season but eventually started making some noise as the second half of the season progressed. Chriss was named to the U.S. Team for the 2017 Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend in January, and a month later was then named Western Conference Rookie of the Month in February (for games played in January).

Marquese showed flashes of his All-Star potential during the last two months of the regular season, logging two games with five blocked shots and showing his overall defensive impact on the court. He also put up a career-high 27 points just a few days after being named Western Conference Rookie of the Month, showcasing his offensive abilities.

Chriss, who got most of his points off of fast break opportunities and open shots last season, will be looking to have more of an impact on offense for Phoenix in his sophmore season. When asked about what he has been working on during the summer, Chriss said he has been focused improving in several areas of his game.

“I think I’m trying to work on my post game more, face-up and try to push the ball on the break, ” Chriss said.

We never really got to see Marquese look to create his own offense last season, and that seems like a point of emphasis for the second year forward now. If Chriss can develop a nice post game, with a couple of go-to moves, the Suns may very well have a nice scoring option next season.

Chriss only averaged 1.3 turnovers per game last year with Phoenix, but has been a bit careless with the ball in Summer League, which he is aware of. “I’m trying to take care of the ball a little bit more. I’ve had way too many turnovers the past three games, I think that’s my biggest weakness right now, just taking care of the ball.”

“I’m trying to take care of the ball a little bit more ,” Chriss said. “I’ve had way too many turnovers the past three games, I think that’s my biggest weakness right now, just taking care of the ball.”

Young players, such as Chriss, are prone to make avoidable mistakes, like being careless with the ball. The more Chriss can improve on the margins, the more effective he will be for Phoenix, which is relying on him to develop into a cornerstone player for the franchise.

Chriss already came into the league with considerable strength, and has actually looked noticeably bigger at Summer League this year. When asked about his weight, Chriss decided to keep it private.

“My numbers right now, I’m going to keep that private so I’m not going to say anything,” Chriss told reporters. “I think it’s helping a lot, just keeping myself more stable and being a bit harder to move.”

The Suns have all of the right pieces to build something special for the future, and Chriss is eager and ready to do whatever he can for Coach Earl Watson when next season comes around. When asked about his expectations for himself next season, Chrissput all his focus on the team.

“Just to produce night in and night out,” Chriss said. “Whatever the team asks me to do, I’m going to do it. Whatever my role is that Earl wants me to do, I’m going to try and do it to the best of my abilities.”

With the rookie jitters out of the way, expect Chriss to come into next season more mature, relaxed, and ready to produce for Coach Watson. What Watson is going to ultimately ask of Chriss next season is still unknown at this point, but you can expect the second year forward out of Washington will give it his all each and every night.

Jonathan Concool is an NBA writer based out of San Francisco, CA entering his third season with Basketball Insiders.

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