After Eric Bledsoe’s situation in Phoenix went sideways, the thinking was that Tyler Ulis would become the starting point guard for the Suns. However, that has not happened and new head coach Jay Triano has opted to start rookie point guard Mike James instead. He and Ulis are getting similar minutes and a great opportunity to become the point guard for the Suns moving forward.
James is playing 23 minutes per game and Ulis is around 20 minutes per game. James really came out of nowhere for the Suns and could become the poster boy for the NBA’s new two way contracts that started this season. These contracts allow teams to sign two additional players with the understanding that those players will spend the majority of the season in the G-League (the NBA’s Developmental League).
James has played well in his time with Phoenix, but the two-way contract has a rule that will benefit Ulis. The rules state that a player cannot spend more than 45 days with the NBA team, and James has already played in 11 games in the regular season. This is bad news for James, but great news for Tyler Ulis. If James continues to play for the team, he will likely have to spend the rest of the season in the G-League after the beginning of December.
Ulis proved at the end of last season what he is capable of with extended minutes. During the month of April last season, the Suns played 6 games and Tyler Ulis played some great basketball. He averaged 20.7 points and 6.8 assists per game in 37 minutes of action. He also shot 45% from the field including 37% from deep.
The Suns are 4-4 under their new coach, but there is no reason to believe that they will not be in the basement of the Western Conference again. Tyler Ulis is going to get a look, but he will need to really step it up and improve his play. He has struggled this season with his shot and with James possibly having to go to the G-League, Ulis could be the only active point guard on the roster. This is his golden opportunity to become part of the Suns’ future along with Devin Booker.