As part of the trade that returned Kevin Durant, the Suns brought back a familiar face in TJ Warren
Hey everyone, this is Cole Tuorto, AKA @SunsReport in the Twitter realms. I am currently based in Denver, CO, but was originally born in the Greater Phoenix Area and grew up watching the 7SOL Suns and the game of the decade immediately following the end of the Nash era. For some reason, I was always drawn to the Suns, whether it was their colors, their innovative style of play (yes including starting 3-point guards in Bledsoe, Dragic and IT), or just the fans.
I bleed purple and orange wherever my career and life will take me. Being a Denver local, I got to experience the Nuggets championship festivities, and while I’m glad the franchise got their first ring, this makes me even more hungry to experience that feeling for when the Suns win their first after almost have pulled away with it. in the finals in 2020. With an aggressive new owner in Mat Ishbia, a world-class coaching staff, and Bradley Beal (Yes Bradley Beal) to join DBook and KD we should be in good shape.
Okay, now for TJ Warren.
2022-23 player recaps
On this episode of review of 2022-23 Phoenix Suns, we shift our focus to the return of TJ Warren, who was previously in Phoenix during the “Golden Era” of Suns hoops in the 2014-2019 seasons and was a homegrown draft pick. Warren was part of the blockbuster Kevin Durant trades below NBA trade deadline that sent Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four first.
Therefore, it’s easy to see why Warren’s return was nothing more than a cherry on top given the significance of the trade landing one of the greatest scorers of all time. Regardless, it’s important to analyze his contributions to this year’s Phoenix Suns despite the limited games played and how he was used in the rotation.
- Position: Small forward and power forward
- Vitals: 6’8″ tall, 220 pounds, 29 years old
- Experience: 9 years
- Stats (2022-23 Regular Season, PHX): 4.2 PPG, 0.7 APG, 3.1 RPG, 42.9 FG%, 31.6 3PT%, 50.0 FT%
Regular Season Summary:
Warren only played a total of 16 regular season games with the Phoenix Suns and unfortunately couldn’t find the consistent 5th starting spot alongside Paul, Book, Durant and Ayton. The Suns constantly cycled between other forwards, such as Torrey Craig and Josh Okogie depending on matchups and performances on the court.
Warren had a few promising moments for the Suns in his brief return, including a 16-point, 8-rebound performance in March. His addition, including players like Terrance Ross, was a breath of fresh air at the time as proven shot creators to provide some relief to the starting lineup. However, given the limited time he had with the squad, he never gained the consistency needed to make a solid impact on the team after being acquired at the deadline.
Summary after the season:
Warren was another victim of Monty Williams’ playoff rotation cuts, appearing in just 6 games and averaging just 2.7 PTS on an abysmal 31.6% from the field and 14.3% from beyond the arc. Similar to the regular season and due to the limited time with the team, he was never able to establish himself as a clear rotation piece that could give the Suns a much needed spark off the bench.
Add in Torrey Craig’s phenomenal 3-point shooting in the 1st round, eclipsing 55% on 3.6 attempts per. game, and Okogie provided value as a scrappy defender and serious threat on the offensive glass, and Warren just couldn’t carve out a consistent spot in the rotation.
The veteran Sun thrives in one area in particular, and that is hard buckets, hence the nickname “Tony Buckets”. The exact number is unknown to me, but if there was a statistic for cool leaners disappearing from the curve, Warren would probably be in the 99th percentile. Warren actually offers a lot of it, the best stars for the Suns in operating in the midrange, which may have actually resulted in fewer opportunities due to the need to shoot three points in the playoffs. This became more and more apparent for the Suns, especially being dead last in 3PA at just 25.8 per game. game.
Warren is also an underrated defender and passer, with active hands that can trigger fastbreaks and the IQ needed to facilitate parts of the offense. This was extremely evident with Indiana before he suffered a foot injury that cost him the entire 2021-22 season.
Warren’s weakness lies in his consistency behind the arc. If you’re an OG Suns fan, you might remember his last season with the team shooting an electric 42.8% from three seemingly out of nowhere, but has regressed since. Additionally, Warren is not the biggest rebounder despite being 6’8 (career 4 RPG) and tends to be out of position in the paint due to not being able to match up in sheer size against bigger opponents.
A big example of this was in the Denver series going up against their more physical forwards such as Aaron Gordon & Michael Porter Jr. The lack of another wing, such as a Craig or Okogie on the floor, caused the Suns to give up a ton of seconds. -Chance points, which in turn would either kill momentum or tire the team, especially by playing at height.
TJ Warren signed a 1-year, $2.6M. with Brooklyn Nets via. free agency before being traded to the Suns at the trade deadline. Warren will be an unrestricted free agent heading into the FA season.
Last season grade:
My grade for Warren’s return to Phoenix is a C with the potential to go higher given the coaching staff more run. The problem is the limited time Warren played, he wasn’t very effective or flashy with his option. It’s extremely difficult to grade the fringe players on any NBA roster because of the sample size we’re given to grade with, and those grades can easily fluctuate given the adjustment of just a few variables.
Regardless, it was really cool to see Warren back in a Suns uni, and it was a bonus for the Durant trade. If he’s not back on the roster next season, I personally will still be rooting for him as he was one of the few bright spots during some of the darkest times in Phoenix Suns history.