Garrett Showing Skills as Floor Leader for Suns in Summer League

Suns guard Diante Garrett drives to the bucket in Summer League.

When Diante Garrett ran the pick-and-roll in the third quarter of Thursday’s 92-84 win over Portland, he did so in a fashion that would have made former Suns point guards proud.

After using the initial screen, Garrett surveyed his options while probing further and further into the lane. He saw the roll man (not open), the strong-side shooter (not open) and the spot-up man in the weak-side corner (wide open).

He acted as soon as the third option became apparent to him, whipping the ball to a ready-and-waiting Marcus Morris for an uncontested 3-pointer from the right-side corner.

It’s Garrett’s ability to appear ready to attack or distribute at the same time, Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said, that makes him a valuable asset at the point guard spot.

“He’s very bouncy,” Hornacek said of Garrett. “He’s got a good crossover. He’s got that ability on the pick-and-rolls to get around the big guy. When the bigs jump out at you, you’ve got to be able to either get around them or make a pass. Diante Garrett’s got the size to be able to do that. He’s done a nice job.”

The Suns are no stranger to Garrett’s game, having seen him emerge from the end of the bench to provide occasional-but-valuable minutes while backing up Goran Dragic last season.

The backcourt depth chart has since increased with the additions of Archie Goodwin (draft) and Eric Bledsoe (trade), but that hasn’t deterred Garrett from playing well enough to impress the Suns – and other teams’ – coaching staff(s).

“I’ve been positive, just keeping my head up for whenever my opportunity comes,” Garrett said. “I know there’s a lot of eyes watching. I’ve just got to be on my ‘A’ game.”

The results are hard to ignore. Garrett turned in 12 assists in Tuesday’s 100-88 win over Memphis, followed by 12 point, three-assist outing on Thursday. In the latter game he was in his element while pushing the high tempo Hornacek desires, serving as the transition engine to the Suns’ 26-0 run that broke the game open in the second quarter.

Garrett’s first points came on a pick-and-roll with Arinze Onuaku. After seeing the defense go under the screen, Garrett calmly settled in for a straightaway 3-pointer. The play that led to the Morris 3-pointer. Then it was another pick-and-roll, this time ending in a Garrett floater over the defense.

“He holds the guy on his side and attacks,” Hornacek said of Garrett’s strategy after coming off the screen. “When you do that it collapses the defense.”

His ability to successfully read and act on screen-and-roll sets comes from Garrett’s affinity for the All-Star floorleaders who run such plays all the time.

“I watch all the NBA players, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, all the guys that run the ball screen to perfection,” Garrett said. “Watching them and going into the gym to work on it is going to help me in the long run.”