Suns Summer League 'Big 3' ready to roll in Las Vegas

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The Suns are hoping their "Big 3" shine in the summer league. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Suns are hoping their "Big 3" shine in the summer league. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Second-year forward Dragan Bender will be expected to redefine his game next season and it starts now in summer league. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Second-year forward Dragan Bender will be expected to redefine his game next season and it starts now in summer league. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Fellow second-year forward Marquese Chriss will be looked to improve his overall game and on-court demeanor. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Fellow second-year forward Marquese Chriss will be looked to improve his overall game and on-court demeanor. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Point guard Tyler Ulis will miss summer league as he recovers from ankle surgery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Point guard Tyler Ulis will miss summer league as he recovers from ankle surgery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

NBA teams have done quite well over the years featuring a "Big 3."

The 2017 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas doesn't quite have the same stakes as the regular season of course but the Phoenix Suns certainly have high hopes for their own "Big 3" as summer league play begins Friday night in Sin City.

[RELATED: After awful season, Suns pin their hopes on young talent]

Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss will not only log heavy minutes but they'll be expected to show head coach Earl Watson and general manager Ryan McDonough exactly where they're at as basketball players - warts and all.

Obviously curious eyes will fall heavily on Jackson, the team's recent No. 4 overall pick in last month's draft. Jackson is glad to finally be focusing on basketball after the springtime time suck that is pre-NBA Draft preps.

[READ MORE: Suns select Josh Jackson with 4th pick]

"I'm just happy to be back doing the only thing that matters," said Jackson. "People before the draft, during the draft, tried to make it about so many other things. At the end of the day, it's about playing basketball."

Jackson is getting his first taste of NBA Basketball this week at daily practices at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

"It went pretty good," said Jackson after his first practice. "Like every step I've taken in my life, from middle school to high school, high school to college, it's definitely an adjustment and something I'm going to have to get used to. There's a learning curve, but I felt like it went pretty good.  I learned some new things."

[RELATED: Suns introduce top pick Jackson]

Jackson's athleticism has already been on display and the Suns have high expectations for their rookie this summer in Las Vegas.

"One of our goals is for him being the X factor," Suns summer league coach Marlon Garnett said. "He'll take on a leadership role. Obviously, he's one of our high picks. We have good expectation for him, but it's not like we're going to try and put pressure on him. We kind of want to let him get a feel for it. get his feet wet.  I think he'll be just fine."

Second-year forward Dragan Bender will be expected to redefine his game next season and it starts now in summer league.

Watson wants Bender to handle the ball more and become a distributor. A tall ask for a teenage 7-footer.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix Suns]

For inspiration, Bender has to look no further than his hometown hero Toni Kukoc. The 6'11" Kukoc helped the Chicago Bulls to three world championships in the 90s. Kukoc's proficiency in distributing the basketball and serving up easy buckets for his teammates earned him the nickname, "The Waiter".

"The guy I was watching growing up was Toni Kukoc," said Bender. "We played for the same club and grew up in the same city so I will try and steal some of those moves from him."

Fellow second-year forward Marquese Chriss will be looked to improve his overall game and on-court demeanor.  As an NBA player who logged heavy minutes last season, Chriss will fall into a natural leadership role while the team stays and plays in Las Vegas.

"There are only a few guys here who've actually played in a NBA season," said Chriss, who just turned 20-years-old last Sunday. "We as a group have to make sure we share the experiences we've had because you've been to where they want to be."

Point guard Tyler Ulis will miss summer league as he recovers from ankle surgery.

The Sun open play Friday night against Sacramento at 7:30 pm.

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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