clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Center of the Sun: Who are these guys!?! Phoenix Suns finish Week Two with 2 wins & 1 close loss

New, comments

The Fantable re-evaluates their opinions on the State of the Suns.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Happy 21st Birthday, Devin Booker!

And Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

vs Sacramento Kings W (117-115) Full Recap

vs Utah Jazz W (97-88) Full Recap

@ Portland Trail Blazers L (114-107) Full Recap

What a difference a week - and a few changes - can make. A week ago, I asked the Fantable for their opinions on the "State of the Suns" and it wasn't pretty. It was down right ugly... just like the first three Suns games. But since then the Suns have a new head coach, a new starting lineup, an unhappy former starting point guard at home practicing tricks with his yo-yo while he waits to be traded and what suddenly looks to be a real NBA team on the court.

The transformation of the Suns seems amazing but is the change in the team's play for real or just the "dead coach bounce" effect? Only time will tell but in light of the Suns going 2-1 in the first three games following the changes after a horrible 0-3 start, I've asked the Fantable to do a "State of the Suns: Take 2" for this week.

Fantable Question of the Week

State of the Suns: Take 2. How do you see the team now as opposed to last week?

GuarGuar: Wow! It truly is incredible how this team has done a complete 180 since the Watson firing/Bledsoe sitting. The effort on both sides of the ball is 10x more and we actually are executing schemes on offense and defense. The results are beating the Kings and Jazz, and going down to the wire against the Blazers. Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender getting equal (or near equal) minutes is nice. The rotations are pretty simple and boring, but they are effective. It's been great seeing Mike Drop and Tyler Ulis look effective in their increased roles.

As the season progresses and the team gets more practices, I expect us to really improve. This road trip is pretty big in terms of maintaining a respectable record. Based on what we have shown the past 3 games, we definitely have a shot to finish the trip 2-3 or better. I am really excited to see what the future holds for this team. Hopefully we can get good value for Bledsoe and soon!

I wanna be here!

Sun-Arc: Wow- what a difference a week - and a coach - makes. I was never a fan of Watson, particularly his lack of coaching coherent offenses and defenses. And we can see the difference already under Triano. Particularly on defense.

The offense looks pretty similar to last season, only there is better ball movement, more passes, and more cutting players. There seem to be more options on offense, though there has still been some hero-iso-ball action going on. Some of that is by design. Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and less so with T.J. Warren, can create their own shot some. I'd still like to see the ball movement provide better shots than we have under Triano thus far.

The defense has been visibly better. Portland and SAC still ran up the score quite a bit (more on that later) but holding Utah to 88 was impressive - especially how they did it. They played physically and man-to-man, which has been the major difference. Less switching and double teams, which has really been positive. Forcing the players to be responsible for their cover has worked out pretty well thus far. Less people look lost. Even Booker has gotten into the act.

Overall, the team had more energy, more passion, played a lot more like a team than in the first three games. All that is good. We've also seen the young players playing well. Booker, Warren, Chriss, Bender, and Ulis have all had good games. Alex Len has been the most consistent of anyone, which makes six draft picks under McD that are showing variously positive levels of talent - though some in merely flashes (Chriss & Bender).

Moving forward, I really hope Triano can improve the team's overall play and get more and more out of these players. I'm not sure whether it is possible or not. And that is what worries me about the SAC & POR games: both were high-scoring and close. While the defense was better than before Triano, this team is not going to win a lot of games like those. That's how they played last season. They need to concentrate more on the defensive side to learn how to close out games. It has been better in terms of energy and (mostly) being in the right position. But you could see Chriss and Len making the same mistakes they've made in the past, particularly against POR. And that worries me.

Three scenarios I see for the season:

  1. Triano is a much better coach than Watson (not difficult to do) and has the team playing better team ball all through the season on both ends. The team wins over 30 games (maybe 35 if things actually click). The young guys develop and progress well. You can see them gaining a passion for winning.
  2. Triano is a better coach for the team, but some of the same bad habits are present in around half the games- IE: Len plays small. Chriss gets lost on D and pouts about it. Bender can't make shots. Warren is inconsistent (or gets injured). The team wins around 24 games and it is a fairly frustrating season for the players and fans.
  3. Triano may have better X's & O's, but the team really regresses into what they were last season: a band of misfits that can't help but look lost in nearly ever game. They tally closer to 20 wins (maybe less), Triano looks frustrated all season. The players and the fans check out.

What do you (BSoTS) think is the most likely outcome after seeing three games under Coach Canada?

SDKyle: The firing of Earl Watson can only be a positive thing, but I really hesitate based on only two games to jump to the sudden conclusion that the Suns are a radically different team overnight. As I write this the Suns have just suffered a pretty Suns-ish loss to the Blazers.

The Suns still have a slew of problems the team will need to address before it climbs out of the West basement. With apologies to the Mike James fan club, we have no starting quality PG. Chriss continues to be wildly inconsistent. Depth at multiple positions remains an issue. The team is still out of sorts pretty often on both sides of the floor, and we don’t have enough perimeter shooting to create effective spacing on a consistent basis.

I’ll give Jay Triano credit for taking a disorganized mess of a team and giving it a semblance of focus. But overall my perception of the team hasn’t shifted wildly just because Watson is gone. The positive way I can spin this is that this is now a young team with a somewhat clean slate. Let’s see what happens in the fallout of this Eric Bledsoe business, and how these young players (hopefully) keep developing.

SouthernSun: Well, a lot has certainly happened in the last week. From Bledsoe being sent home, and Ryan McDonough yet again trashing players on the way out, to the Suns actually playing competitive basketball, and even stringing a couple of wins together. 2-4 certainly isn't anything to write home about, but after the Suns 0-3 start, I don't think anybody expected us to be 2-4 right now. The Suns could easily have been 3-3, with it being a one point game with 4 minutes to go.

I really don't like how McDonough has developed a habit of always talking to the media about players on their way out, and doing so in a derogatory manner. It seems like any player of significance that leaves the Suns gets that treatment. Maybe it's just a coincidence that all of those players had some not so nice things to say about the organization. Or maybe it's the front office, namely Ryan McDonough and Robert Sarver. Logic points to the latter.

But hey! How about that little win streak? That was fun while it lasted. It looks like Jay Triano is a passable head coach. He is a massive upgrade over Watson for the simple fact that he, well, coaches.

Mike James should not be a starting point guard in the NBA. He had a great first game, a great final bucket, and God bless him for inspiring Chapelle Show references in the Sacramento game recap comment section, but again, he is not a starting NBA point guard. We need an Eric Bledsoe trade to happen yesterday, and we need it to bring back a starting caliber point guard.

Which brings me to my preferred Eric Bledsoe trades list:

1. Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks

  • Suns send: Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, Suns 2018 2nd round pick
  • Bucks send: Malcolm Brogdon, Greg Monroe, Mirza Teletovic

2. Eric Bledsoe to the Denver Nuggets (but not what you think)

  • Suns send: Eric Bledsoe, Derrick Jones Jr, Mike James
  • Suns receive: Dennis Schroder, Mike Delaney
  • Hawks send: Dennis Schroder, Mike Delaney
  • Hawks receive: Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Lyles, Darrell Arthur, Mike James
  • Nuggets send: Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Lyles, Darrell Arthur
  • Nuggets receive: Eric Bledsoe, Derrick Jones Jr

3. Bledsoe to the New York Knicks (my least preferred option, because it doesn't get us a proven player, though Frank looks like a good future compliment to Booker)

  • Suns send: Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, Derrick Jones Jr
  • Suns receive: Frank Ntilikina, Joakim Noah and Mindaugas Kuzminskas

As always, many thanks to our Fantable... GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun!


Key Stats

34 pts, 6 assists, 6 rebs, 57.9% FG%, 57.1% 3Pt%, TS% = 70.4%, eFG% = 68.4%

These are Devin Booker's stats for the Portland game. While the 34 points scored certainly catches the eye, what really stands out to me are the field goal and 3-point shooting percentages. This was a very efficient night for Booker. For the season, his averages are 44.2 FG% and 36.4 3Pt% and in the last three games they improved to 48.1 FG% and 44.4 3Pt%. And don't overlook his rebounding numbers! He's averaging 6.0 rpg this year after pulling down 3.5 rpg last season and 3.0 for his career. His PER for the season is presently 18.3 as opposed to 14.6 for last season.

After the first three games of the season, the Suns were dead last in defensive rating, 29th in offensive rating and dead last in overall rating. In the last three games following the coaching change (and the banishment of Eric Bledsoe) they were 10th in defensive rating, 12th in offensive rating and 8th in overall rating. Unfortunately, turnovers are still a problem. The Suns rank 28th in turnovers for the season but have shown a very slight improvement by ranking 26th in the last three games.

Random Stats: Dragan Bender has been hitting 36.4% of his three point attempts (3.7 attempts per game) in the last three games. Also during that stretch, Alex Len has almost averaged a double-double with 10.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg with a FG% of 52.6 while averaging 23.1 minutes per game.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com.


Game Highlights

Sacramento Kings vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / Week 2 / 2017 NBA Season

Utah Jazz vs Phoenix Suns | Full Game Highlights | October 25, 2017

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers Full Game Highlights / Week 2 / 2017 NBA Season


Quote of the Week

"Fielding a decent team or trying to have .500 record (is not) putting this organisation in a position to compete for Championships. If the way we’re doing it upsets some people or people don’t like it, we have to live with that. I take responsibility for that. I hope in time people will see it was the right thing to do." - Ryan McDonough


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 25.2 mpg, 10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.2 TO, 2.8 PF

Mike James - 22.1 mpg, 11.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.7 TO, 2.0 PF

Alec Peters - Assigned to NAZ Suns *

Davon Reed - DNP (Injured)

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.

* In his debut with the NAZ Suns, Alec scored 27 points and pulled down 7 rebounds. He made 64.7% of his FG attempts and shot 57.1% (4 of 7) from three in a 120-116 loss for the NAZ.


Don't forget Bright Side Night is coming again!

Please donate! Help send 1,000+ kids to the Suns home game against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, January 14, 2018! Just get your credit card ready, click on the link below and fill out the form.

Make a donation!

Just $19 will send one deserving kid. $38 sends two. $190 sends 10 and gets YOU free stuff too.

We want to help get as many kids as we can to the game and every donation counts!

NOTE: With all the drama around the team these past weeks, the third annual Bright Side Night has been postponed to January 14, 2018.

All donations already made will carry over to that game, and those who are expecting game tickets will be contacted by Stepheny with the Suns to work out logistics of which game you want to attend.


News & Notes

27-year-old rookie Mike James convincing Suns he's part of future. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

What Is Ryan McDonough Doing? The Four Point Play

Under Jay Triano, Suns’ Devin Booker showing relentless effort defensively. Arizona Sports

Williams on Williams. Phoenix Mag.com

Charles Barkley on Suns moving on from Eric Bledsoe: ‘It’s his fault’. Arizona Sports

Northern Arizona Suns endure hectic week as training camp opens. 2Ways10Days

GM: Suns should have conducted more interviews before Earl Watson hire. Arizona Sports

Suns GM Ryan McDonough: Eric Bledsoe mad about not getting contract renegotiation-and-extension. NBC Sports

Suns GM calls out Eric Bledsoe and agent Rich Paul. ESPN

My text-message conversation with Suns forward Alan Williams while watching the Knicks-Celtics game. Hoops Hype


This Week in Suns History

On October 30, 1972, new head coach "Butch" van Breda Kolff was fired after coaching just seven games for the Suns (3-4). General Manager Jerry Colangelo took over as head coach for the remainder of the season.

On October 30, 2009, Steve Nash dished out 20 assists in a 123-101 Suns win over the Golden State Warriors.

On November 2, 1990, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Utah Jazz 119-96 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Japan in the first regular season game played outside North America by any major professional sports league.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

Jay Triano joined Jerry Colangelo, Scott Skiles, Alvin Gentry, Lindsey Hunter and Jeff Hornacek as the only Suns head coaches to win their first two games.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, October 31 - Phoenix Suns @ Brooklyn Nets, 4:30 pm AZ time

Wednesday, November 1 - Phoenix Suns @ Washington Wizards, 4:00 pm AZ time

Friday, November 3 - Phoenix Suns @ New York Knicks, 4:30 pm AZ time

Sunday, November 5 - Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs, 5:00 pm AZ time

The Suns head East to continue their road trip this week with four games in six days, including one back-to-back. My predictions so far this season have been really pretty bad so far but at least I have the same record as the Suns (2-4) so I'll give it another shot this week.

On Tuesday the Suns head to Brooklyn to take on the somewhat surprising Nets. The Nets are 3-4 and have already beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers and the even more so surprising Orlando Magic (who presently have the best record in the East at 4-1) on their home court. As today, the Nets are 3-1 at home which means that the Suns cannot in any way take this game lightly (they shouldn't take any game lightly but that's a discussion for another time). But the Nets are actually giving up more points per game than the Suns, whose defense has gotten much better lately, so I'm picking the Suns to win this one.

On Wednesday night the Suns play the Wizards in DC on the second night of a back-to-back. The Wizards are playing well and I would have picked them to win even if the Suns had two to three days off before the game so put this one down as a loss.

Next the Suns travel back to the Big Apple for a game with the Knicks. The Knicks are 2-3 at the moment with their two wins coming against the Nets and the Cavaliers. Don't let that win against the Cavs fool you as they are 3-4 and just not playing well at the moment. I don't expect the Suns to stop Kristaps Porzingis (26.5 ppg) but I think that the Suns have a good chance to out-play the rest of the Knicks and get another win in NYC.

On the final stop on this five game road trip the Suns stop off in San Antonio for a game with the Spurs on Sunday. Even without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, the Spurs have started out the season 4-2. As much as I'd love to see a Suns win in SA, I doubt it happens and the Suns get another loss.

Even though all of this week's games are on the road, I'm predicting that the Suns go 2-2.

What's your prediction?


Last Week's Poll Results

The poll was, "What should the Suns do with Eric Bledsoe?" The results were:

72% - Trade him ASAP.

28% - Wait and see if the coaching change affects his attitude.

There were a total of 324 votes cast.


This week's poll is...

Poll

In an Eric Bledsoe trade, what do you think is most important for the Suns to get in return?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    A young point guard with high potential.
    (150 votes)
  • 33%
    The best player/players possible regardless of position.
    (114 votes)
  • 15%
    Another draft pick that probably will be a lottery pick.
    (51 votes)
  • 7%
    I don’t care. I just want him gone ASAP.
    (24 votes)
339 votes total Vote Now