Royce O’Neale Impacting Suns Already In Surprising Way

Royce O'Neale, Phoenix Suns, NBA News
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns got involved in a three-team deal just before last week’s NBA trade deadline that landed them Royce O’Neale from the Brooklyn Nets. O’Neale, a 6-foot-6, 226-pound forward, has a reputation for being a 3-and-D player, which is the exact type of player Phoenix needs.

O’Neale’s first game with his new team wasn’t that optimistic, as he shot 1-of-3 and scored three points in 11 minutes as the Suns lost a 113-112 heartbreaker to the Golden State Warriors. However, something that occurred that Saturday evening looked very promising.

He challenged his new teammates to communicate better on the defensive end.

In his second game with Phoenix, which took place on Tuesday, he had nine points and two 3-pointers, as well as five assists, four rebounds, four steals, and one blocked shot. The team downed the Sacramento Kings 130-125, and while it wasn’t a stellar defensive effort, it was an important win.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Royce O’Neale, Phoenix Suns Updates

Thanks to that victory and a 116-100 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, the Suns are now in fifth place in the Western Conference with a 33-22 record. Against Detroit, O’Neale scored another nine points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

The defense has been an issue for the Suns all season long, especially when it struggled during the first few months. But lately, they have stepped things up in that category. In their last 15 games, of which they have won 11, they have ranked fourth in the NBA in defensive rating.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Royce O’Neale, Phoenix Suns Updates

Frank Vogel, the head coach they hired last offseason, is a defensive-minded coach, and it looks like his leadership is finally starting to pay dividends.

Another concern for the Suns has been depth, especially in the frontcourt. But O’Neale is already greatly helping with that deficiency, and he should be big for them come playoff time.

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