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Center of the Sun: This week the Phoenix Suns go 1-2 with surprise win in Minnesota

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The Suns' bench may be the 2nd best thing about this team.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

@ Sacramento Kings L (99-92) Full Recap

vs Toronto Raptors L (115-109) Full Recap

@ Minnesota Timberwolves W (108-106) Full Recap

Like just about every other Suns’ fan, my heart sank as Devin Booker was carried off the court in Toronto. Even after hearing that Booker's injury wasn't as severe as I had feared, my spirits weren't exactly lifted because I began to consider how the rest of the team might look playing without him. Moving Josh Jackson into the starting lineup made sense defensively but it has proven to decrease the spacing that T.J. Warren needs to be effective which hampers his ability to step up his game as he now becomes the Suns' #1 option on offense.

But surprisingly the Suns have not played as badly as I had feared without Booker. Sure they have lost 4 of their last 5 games but not a single loss was by more than 10 points and the rest of the team didn’t give up and has played hard in every game.

This team has heart and pride and discovering proof of that was a sort of “silver lining” to me... and maybe to the team as well. They aren’t content to sit back and ride out the coming games until Booker’s return and that led to the win in Minnesota.

And it’s been just one game but Isaiah Canaan looked very good on the court in that game and possibly was the difference between winning or losing it. Perhaps that is another positive that can be taken from Booker’s absence as we can’t be certain that the Suns would have brought him aboard if not for the injury hardship exception they couldn’t have applied for before.

And those thoughts lead me to proposing the Fantable questions of the week.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Despite all of the losing, one positive that I've seen from the Suns since Devin Booker's injury is that the team has refused to roll over and die in the following games. Most of the fan comments in the BSotS articles have addressed the negatives (and there have been many) but are there any other positives that you've noticed? And do you think that playing without Booker for a while might actually have some benefits for the team as a whole when he returns?

Sun-Arc: I have been really surprised we haven’t lost by 20 or more every game. The losses since have been 10 to WAS, 3 to SAS, 7 @ SAC, and 6 to TOR. Sure, WAS and SAS were playing with depleted rosters, SAC sucks, and TOR was potentially taking it easy. But considering where we started the season, this is still worth some surprise. There is fight in this team. And Jay Triano still has them playing pretty hard. If we had a good PG we might not look so bad at all.

Right now I’m not seeing any long-term silver linings to Booker being out. Everyone else has gotten the same amount of minutes they normally would (except Troy Daniels), and now one has really taken advantage of Devin’s absence to shine on their own (except one game by Daniels). Normally when this happens (to a good team), the players learn to lift their games and it translates even after the star player gets back. So far I’m not seeing that.

SDKyle: The only real positive I can pull from this situation other than the the fact that the team hasn’t quit is that it’s forcing some of our other players into being more active scorers.

This is actually a negative in some ways, of course, because most of them aren’t really that good at creating offense and so the result is a lot of awkwardness. Tyler Ulis and Mike James are both guys who will have the occasional hot night but normally just won’t score well enough to help the team win. Daniels and Warren are both able scorers but without the all-around ability of Booker. Jackson is just not hitting much of anything, and most of our bigs seem to prefer limited roles for the time being.

But it’s a positive in that it might hopefully help this team figure out who they are when they don’t have Booker’s scoring skills to fall back on every other trip down the floor.

That leads me to the second part of the question, to which I say yes, I think this could have some benefits for when Booker returns. Hopefully some other players will gain some confidence and that desire to step up and be “the man” when Booker is either having an off night or is on the bench.

SouthernSun: The positives that I was looking forward to haven't really happened. Meaning, so far, none of Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, or Dragan Bender have been capable of stepping up to try and burden some of the load for this team in Booker's absence.

Jackson certainly tries, but the results haven't looked good. I'm giving him a rookie pass.

Bender has looked halfway competent out there for the last couple games, which is a huge step up from what I've seen from him for the duration of his time as a Sun. I hope it continues.

Chriss was pretty horrendous in the last game, but he had a nice game recently with 15 points and I believe 7 rebounds. He was doing this on a more consistent basis at the end of last season though. Of the three of these guys, I honestly expected Chriss to be the most likely candidate to step in and provide TJ with some help. So far he hasn't.

Let's get to some positives that I still have hope for.

The team is passing more. Ball movement in a recent game looked really good. I'm not sure if they really were attempting to find the best option, or if everyone was just petrified to be the person who had to shoot, but either way, more passing.

It looks to me like, even though one person hasn't stepped up, the team as a whole has been able to keep itself in some games. I'm mildly surprised by that. It gives me hope. One would think that if the Suns had Booker to close these games out, they win a few of them.

Okay. That's about as positive as I can be.

Many thanks once again to our Fantable - Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun - for all their input!

(Unfortunately, Fantable member GuarGuar was unable to contribute this week.)


Key Stats

69 points, 28 rebounds, 15 assists

Those are the stats for the Suns' bench in the win over the Timberwolves. The starters stats for the game were 39 points, 24 rebounds and 6 assists. For the season the Suns' bench has been one of the better ones in the NBA ranking 6th in scoring with 40.4 points per game. In the five games since Devin Booker's injury, they have stepped it up and have averaged 47.8 ppg and also out scored the starters in the Toronto game 55-54. During that same five game period, the starters have averaged 55.4 ppg which is well below their season average of 66.3. That’s understandable with Booker out and frankly I was initially worried that the drop in ppg for the starters would be bigger than it has been.

Random Stats: Troy Daniels has averaged 15.6 ppg over the last 5 games which makes him the 2nd leading scorer on the Suns for that period. His shooting percentages have been 52.1% from the field and 47.4% from three. In Isaiah Canaan's debut with the Suns he shot 60% from the field, 50% from three and 100% from the free throw line. Alex Len has made 72.7% of his field goal attempts in the last 5 games.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and RealGM.com.


Game Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings Full Game Highlights | 12.12.2017

Toronto Raptors vs Phoenix Suns - Highlights / NBA 17 / Week 9

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Phoenix Suns | Full Game Highlights | December 16, 2017


Quotes of the Week

“I think we’re gonna have to find a secondary scorer to alleviate some of the burden off of T.J. and hopefully that’s a combination of guys.” - Ryan McDonough

“I told them, ‘If you stop getting better, quit. Walk away from the game,’. For me, there’s always something I feel I can improve on. So every summer it’s like I’m a rookie all over again trying to prove to everybody that I’m better than they think I am.” - Tyson Chandler (speaking about what he told the younger Suns players this summer while lifting with them.)


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 22.2 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.9 TO, 2.8 PF

  • This week - 24.7 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.0 TO, 3.0 PF

Mike James - 21.6 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.6 TO, 1.5 PF

  • This week - 19.2 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.0 TO, 1.0 PF (1 DNP-CD)

Alec Peters - Assigned to NAZ Suns

  • NAZ stats - 33.7 mpg, 17.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.0 TO, 2.9 PF

Davon Reed - DNP (Injured)

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Bright Side Night is coming again!

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News & Notes

Isaiah Canaan hopes he can find home with Phoenix Suns. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Tyson Chandler says family played big role in signing - and staying - with Phoenix Suns. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

GM McDonough: Suns trying to replace production of injured Devin Booker. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Suns insider: The Suns are bad, OK? Here are three reasons why. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Game Day: Suns hoping Devin Booker will be back around Christmas. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Suns Need To Build Around Booker. Alex Wong/Sports On Earth

Phoenix Suns adjusting to life without Devin Booker. Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports


This Week in Suns History

The Suns made their national television debut on Christmas day, 1968, as an ABC audience and a season-high Coliseum crowd of 10,355 witnessed the Los Angeles Lakers post a 119-99 victory.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

The Suns have three different players averaging at least 8.0 rebounds per game this season with Tyson Chandler averaging 9.5 rpg, Alex Len averaging 9.2 rpg and Greg Monroe averaging 8.0 rpg. In the past 40 years, the only other season in which three Suns players averaged at least 8.0 rebounds per game was in 2007-08 when Shaquille O’Neal (10.6 rpg), Shawn Marion (9.9 rpg) and Amar’e Stoudemire (9.1 rpg) each did so.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, December 18 - Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks, 6:30 pm AZ time

Wednesday, December 20 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers, 8:30 pm AZ time

Thursday, December 21 - Phoenix Suns vs Memphis Grizzlies, 7:00 pm AZ time

Saturday, December 23 - Phoenix Suns vs Minnesota Timberwolves, 7:00 pm AZ time

Another four game week for the Suns with the first two on the road. Tonight they take on the Mavericks in Dallas. Dallas hasn't fared any better than the Suns this season and I honestly think that the Suns might be able get another win in this one... especially if the bench plays as well as it did in Minnesota.

On Wednesday the Suns head to LA for their first rematch since the 130-88 drubbing they received back on Oct. 21. A lot has changed for both teams since then and the Clippers have been hit very hard with injuries. Starters Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverley have been replaced by Wes Johnson, Jamil Wilson and Lou Williams and they are presently are only 2.5 games ahead of the Suns in the Western standings at 11-17. If this game was in Phoenix, I would be tempted to predict a Suns win but in LA I still have to give the edge to the Clippers although I think this will be a much more watchable game than the first.

On Thursday the Suns return home for a game with the surprisingly bad Memphis Grizzlies. In case you haven't checked lately, Memphis is presently a half game BEHIND Phoenix in the Western conference standings with a 9-21 record. I'm going to go ahead and optimistically call this one a win for the Suns.

And finally the Minnesota Timberwolves will come to Phoenix looking for revenge after the 108-106 loss to the Suns on the previous Saturday. I think they will come to Phoenix more motivated and better prepared than in the last game and get the win.

As shocking as it may seem, I believe that the Suns might go 2-2 this week with a slight chance of going 3-1. Have I lost my mind? Perhaps but this week's competition looks pretty weak and I'm betting that the Suns' bench continues to play very well and makes the difference in several games.

What's your prediction?


Last Week's Poll Results

The poll was, "Should the Suns try to trade for some talent that could help to win now or tank the rest of the season?"

The results were:

53% - Booker's the real deal! Let's get him some real help NOW!

47% - TANK! The Suns need one more top 5 draft pick.

There were a total of 200 votes cast.


This week's poll is about Isaiah Canaan.

When Devin Booker returns from his injury, the Suns are going to have to waive someone as they were only allowed to sign Canaan because they were granted an injury hardship exception by the NBA. This exception only temporarily allows a team to carry 16 players (not counting 2-way contract players) on their roster when 4 or more players are injured for an extended period of time. Canaan would seem to be the obvious player to waive but this week’s question is...

Poll

If Canaan continues to play well, will the Suns will keep him on the roster and waive someone else when Devin Booker returns?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Yes
    (106 votes)
  • 4%
    No
    (11 votes)
  • 49%
    I hope the Suns make a trade by that time and don’t have to just waive anyone.
    (115 votes)
232 votes total Vote Now