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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns win 2 of 4 without Devin Booker

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Going 2-2 for the week without Booker was a pleasant surprise ... and he's coming back this week!

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

@ Dallas Mavericks W (97-91) Full Recap

@ LA Clippers L (108-95) Full Recap

vs Memphis Grizzlies W (97-95) Full Recap

vs Minnesota Timberwolves L (115-106) Full Recap

In the nine games since Devin Booker's injury, the Suns have a win/loss record of 3-6 ... and even some of the losses were close games. I don't believe that anyone thought they would do that well in that stretch of games but the rest of the team stepped up to the challenge, especially the bench. More on them later.

But now it’s time to rejoice for Devin Booker is set to return to the court the day after Christmas.

Who says there’s no Santa Claus?

During Booker’s absence, the Suns have added a couple of new faces (Isaiah Canaan and Danuel House Jr.), parted ways with another (Mike James) and seen the bench often outplay the starters. That last one might not happen as often once Booker gets back up to speed but it tends to make one wonder how good this team could be if the Suns could somehow make a trade that would bring back a star player to pair with Booker in the starting unit.

And that leads us to our Fantable question of the week.


Fantable Question of the Week

If the Suns could trade for ANY single player in the NBA, who would you want to pair with Devin Booker and why?

GuarGuar: If the Suns could trade for any player in the NBA, I would trade for Kawhi Leonard.

His elite wing defense while still being a dominant scorer would be the perfect fit next to Booker. Together, in time they could become the most dominant 1-2 punch in the NBA. Kawhi is also still young so we would have many years of this dynamic duo together. Surround them with solid role players and we have a championship caliber team for many years to come! The Kooker combo would set the league on fire and bring Phoenix basketball back to life!

Plus, who doesn’t like screwing the Spurs over? If only it was so easy...

Sun-Arc: Anthony Davis

I believe pairing Booker with a big man makes sense to have top talent balanced in the starting five. Plus with some strength at the wing, having someone that can score as a big man is important. Plus, Davis' defense is excellent. He's tall and long, can guard the rim and cover people on the perimeter as well. He is agile, mobile, and also has power moves. He's really a complete player. He also does not need the ball in his hands all the time to have a big effect on the game- and I think that is important because Booker should have the ball quite a bit.

I also considered DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Joel Embiid. You can see a comparison of their current seasons here.

Looking at the stats, it is a tough choice for these guys. They are all good.

For age, KAT (22) is a massive talent, and younger than Davis (24), but his D isn't as strong - and I think we need a good defense around Booker. Embiid (23) is a stats machine, but his ORtg-DRtg differential (5) is second lowest of the bunch, with Cousins (0) at the bottom of that rank. And Joel's D just isn't as good as Davis'. Plus his TS% (.582) is also second lowest - again to Cousins (.581); whereas Davis's differential is 17 and TS% is highest at .644.

Also, if you look at the ORtgs overall, Embiid's is not great (108), where Gobert's is higher (116) and also has the lowest DRtg at 102. As much as I love Gobert, I think pairing Booker with a guy that can hit from all over the court is best.

From watching all these guys, I might have gone with KAT or Embiid, but Davis' abilities are so wide-ranging its hard not to want him here. Plus- those stats are something. Davis has the highest PER (28.3) of the five big men I shortlisted. Cousins is an immense talent, but the stats begin to show him as a little empty- his ORtg and DRtg have both hovered around 104 every season he's been in the league. And is the oldest of the bunch. And is reported to be a head case in the locker room. So I'm not choosing him if I get to choose from this list.

I also considered John Wall, who I think maybe the best overall 'traditional' PG today. CP3 may be better, but he's not on the court as much so I think I would prefer Wall. JW can defend, has good size, amazing speed, and does everything you want a point guard to do. And we could really use someone like him. The only reason I chose Davis over Wall is because I feel Booker can be a Harden-esque player and distribute the ball. So, for this reason, I would choose a top big man over a PG. But its close.

I also considered Antetokounmpo, who may be the best player in the world in another year or two. And, of course, LBJ. But both have overlapping qualities with Booker (high usage, need the ball in their hands, etc). So if we are pairing someone with Devin, I get a big man. I would, however, exchange Booker for Giannis - so its not like I'm saying I'd rather have Booker. And I wouldn't mind a combo of Giannis and Davis. But that much rosterbation can cause blindness - or so they say.

Trae Young, Booker, Josh Jackson/T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender (?), Davis... that's a team I could live with.

SDKyle: I thought about this a fair amount because I wanted to come up with a response that wouldn’t be predictable and boring. In the end, though, I’ve failed because I’d want to pair Booker with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The “why” is almost self-explanatory. The Greek Freak can play virtually any position on the floor. He can score at an elite clip, pass, rebound, and defend. Adding Giannis immediately improves your ability to move the ball effectively between the front and backcourt, and prevents Booker from always drawing the defense right to him.

He’s also only 23, so in my mind, he essentially slides into the Suns’ PF spot and becomes part of a deadly lineup.

Picture it: In two years, Josh Jackson has become what we hoped. He and Giannis are two highly versatile forwards who are both comfortable handling the ball and passing, and both possess explosive athleticism making them a threat to get to the rim on any given touch.

Booker is feasting on this. No longer always drawing the other team’s best defender every time he touches it, D-Book is getting a lot of quality looks...including many off of passes from Giannis and JJ. With both Giannis and JJ able to guard many opposing players from PG to PF at a high level, nobody is talking about Booker’s defense anymore. He’s a scoring machine, and one of the best in the business. And the Suns are winning. A lot.

Now if only this could be real...

SouthernSun: This is such a hard question. So many tantalizing options. You've got KAT, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo...

For me, it's neck and neck between Giannis and AD. Giannis is, I think, the more overall talented player with more MVP votes coming his way in his career, whereas Davis would be a perfect big man complement to Book.

I suppose I'd have to say that I'd go with Giannis though. If given the chance, you simply can't pass up a player of his caliber, even if both he and Book tend to be a little ball dominant. There's no doubt in my mind that if those two got together on the Suns, there would be at least one Larry O'Brien trophy being hoisted up in Phoenix before too terribly long.

Just imagine, Giannis blocks a shot, hangs onto the ball, now he's running the floor, the defense collapses on him as he drives towards the basket, only to throw a clean pass out to Booker for the uncontested three. I can picture it now. It's a thing of beauty.

That said, the Suns actually have a real shot at perhaps trading for Anthony Davis. If it's a possibility, they shouldn't hold back anything. The Suns 2018 1st rounder should not be off the table in trade discussions for Davis if they ever do happen to take place. We aren't getting Giannis.

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


Key Stats

104.6 (11th) vs 108.7 (28th) Defensive Rating

In the five games the Suns have played since they acquired Isaiah Canaan, their defensive rating has risen to 104.6, 11th in the NBA for that period and much better than their 28th ranking for the entire season.

Almost All of the Bench Statistics

During that same five-game period, the Suns' bench players have led all of the NBA benches in minutes per game (23.4), points per game (51.4), three-point field goals made (7.8 pg), free throw percentage (96.4% while shooting the 2nd highest number of FT attempts per game), assists per game (12.2) and were second in total rebounds per game (20.0).

Random Stats: Troy Daniels ranks 9th in the NBA by shooting 43.8% from three-point range among players who have 100 or more 3PT attempts and he ranks 3rd in the NBA with 77 three-point makes off the bench this season (behind Kyle Korver's 82 and Wayne Ellington's 91). Phoenix has held opponents to under 100 points twice in the past four games (that occurred only three times in the previous 31 games).

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Game Highlights

Dallas Mavericks/Mavs vs Phoenix Suns | Full Game Highlights | December 18, 2017

Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers Full Game Highlights / Week 10 / Dec 20

Memphis Grizzlies vs Phoenix Suns - Full Game Highlights | Dec 21, 2017 | NBA Season 2017-18

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Phoenix Suns - Highlights - NBA 2017


Quote of the Week

“He’s great busting up screens and getting over screens and setting the tone for us defensively. We don’t have to worry about coverage when he’s on the ball. We’re not scrambling, bigs are able to stay at home and be in better rebounding position. There’s a lot of really positive things.” - Jay Triano speaking of Isaiah Canaan


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 22.5 mpg, 9.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.8 TO, 2.9 PF

  • This week - 24.6 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 1.3 bpg, 0.8 TO, 3.0 PF, 3PT% = 50.0%

Alec Peters - Assigned to NAZ Suns

  • NAZ stats - 34.3 mpg, 18.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.0 TO, 2.9 PF, 3PT% = 40.9%

Davon Reed - DNP (Injured)

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


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We want to help get as many kids as we can to the game. Every donation counts and the time left to donate is growing short!


News & Notes

Devin Booker expects to return to Suns' lineup Tuesday. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Isaiah Canaan's defense, playmaking ability factors in Suns keeping him over Mike James. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Suns’ Devin Booker meets fans, signs autographs prior to the game. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Phoenix Suns' Troy Daniels talks about the art of shooting. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Devin Booker is young, but the Suns' star is already boasting an advanced game. CBS Sports

Rookie Status Update: Josh Jackson Has No Room to Succeed. The Ringer


This Week in Suns History

On December 30, 1992, the Phoenix Suns defeated Houston 133-110 to finish December with a 14-0 record, tying for the third-best month in NBA history. The Lakers set the NBA record by going 16-0 in December 1971.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

Isaiah Canaan had 15+ points and 5+ assists in each of his first two games with the Suns. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Canaan is the first player in franchise history with 15+ points and 5+ assists coming off the bench in his first two games with the team. Canaan joins Eric Bledsoe, Sam Cassell, Charles Barkley, Connie Hawkins and Gail Goodrich as the only players, starter or reserve, to do so in each of their first two games as Suns.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, December 26 - Phoenix Suns vs Memphis Grizzlies, 7:00 pm AZ time

Friday, December 29 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings, 8:00 pm AZ time

Sunday, December 31 - Phoenix Suns vs Philadelphia 76ers, 6:00 pm AZ time

Just three games this week and - surprise! - no back-to-back games. And the Suns have already won games against all three of these teams this season so can they put together a 3-0 week and their first 3-game win streak of the season? With Devin Booker back, it may be possible.

On Tuesday the Suns have a quick rematch at home with the Memphis Grizzlies. They beat them a few days ago at home without Booker so I'm going to call this one as another win for the Suns, even if Booker's minutes are limited on his return.

Friday night the Suns head out to Sacramento for their third game of the season vs the Kings. The Suns won the first match in Phoenix and the Kings took the second in Sacramento. They are playing in Sactown again but Booker was out for the loss there ... and the Suns didn't have Isaiah Canaan then either. I'm going to call this one another win for the Suns.

And finally, the Philadelphia 76ers will come to Phoenix looking for revenge for the 115-101 loss the Suns handed to them on the night that Booker scored his season-high 46 points in Philly. I'm going to go ahead and call this one a win for the Suns too. Although the revenge factor could come into play, Philly just hasn't played well lately and before they got a win in NY yesterday they were on a 5-game losing streak. They are 2-8 in their last ten games and will also be playing the Suns on the second night of a back-to-back (they play the Nuggets in Denver on Dec. 30).

Last week I made what I called a "shocking" prediction that the Suns would go 2-2 for the week without Devin Booker. Now that he’s back, I'll make an even more shocking prediction that the Suns go 3-0 this week.

What's your prediction?


Last Week's Poll Results

The poll was, "If Canaan continues to play well, do you think the Suns will keep him on the roster after Devin Booker Returns?"

The results were:

45.7% - Yes

04.7% - No.

49.6% - I hope the Suns make a trade by that time and don’t have to just waive anyone.

There were a total of 232 votes cast... and now we know for certain that the answer was “yes”.


This week's poll question is almost the same as the one that I asked the Fantable.

Poll

If the Suns could trade for ANY single player in the NBA, who would you want to pair with Booker?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Kawhi Leonard.
    (18 votes)
  • 39%
    Anthony Davis.
    (39 votes)
  • 35%
    Giannis Antetokounmpo.
    (35 votes)
  • 7%
    Another player.
    (7 votes)
99 votes total Vote Now