Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Well, summer time is almost upon us and with the Suns out of the playoffs (again) actual news about the team tends to dry up. But there's always things to speculate about and today we thought we would try something a little different by giving some of BSotS's frequent fan commenters the first crack at giving their opinions on some roundtable questions.
I want to thank GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and Justin & Paul from the "By the fans, for the fans" podcasts for agreeing to be our first Bright Side "Fantable" participants!
And now, on to the Q & A...
1. If the Suns win the #1 pick in the draft and take Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, what should the Suns do with Eric Bledsoe?
GuarGuar: If the Suns end up with Fultz or Ball we absolutely have to trade Bledsoe. The best time to deal him would be during the summer because it not only avoids a locker room issue but also his trade value should be at its highest. The ideal return for Bled would be another 1st rounder in this draft. I think some potential teams that would be willing to give up their 1st for Bledsoe (assuming they don't win the lotto) are Minnesota, Orlando, New York, and Dallas.
Sun-Arc: Try to trade Eric on draft night for lottery pick or a young promising center. If the right trade does not appear, keep him. Allow Fultz or Ball to play behind Bledsoe and also alongside Eric or Ulis as the backup SG to get the rookie more minutes. If Fultz/Ball seems capable of running the team before February, look to move Eric at the deadline. (Slightly off topic, but picking one of those guys doubles the need to move Knight as well. Maybe trade him to PHI or SAC for a 2nd round pick.)
SDKyle: This is a tough question that I know has been controversial with fans, but I say keep him at least into next season. Bledsoe is on a good contract and I see him as being able to help the Suns transition into the Fultz/Ball (or whoever) era. If our new rookie sensation shows himself to be up to the task earlier than expected, then we can deal Bledsoe midseason.
Justin: If the Suns pick Fultz or Ball, then they absolutely must trade Bledsoe, and it would be best to trade him sooner rather than later. The team cannot go into next season with three point guards (I think Brandon Knight will be gone before the season starts). Having Bledsoe on the team with Fultz or Ball would be even more difficult to manage than was the Bledsoe-Dragic-Thomas group because the Suns have Devin Booker. So, one of the point guards cannot be slid to shooting guard like the Suns did when Bledsoe and Dragic were starting. Plus, the organization – and Ryan McDonough in particular – just cannot afford to have a fiasco like we saw with Bledsoe, Dragic, and Thomas happen again.
In an ideal world, the Suns trade Bledsoe (and probably other assets) for another first round pick in this year’s draft. Regardless, if the Suns pick a point guard in this draft, it would be better for the team to move on from Bledsoe and get what it can in return so that the rebuilding process can move forward.
Paul: I love Bled’s competitiveness and his spirit, and he’s actually turned into a pretty decent leader for the young squad. But, if the Suns end of drafting Fultz (cheers) or Ball (groan), I think the move should be to move on from Bledsoe and try to get an upgrade at either Center or Small Forward, preferably the latter. Warren is great, but the position can definitely be upgraded, especially on the defensive side to help cover Booker’s deficiencies there. Bledsoe is clearly the Suns best trade chip, and if they draft a point guard, its best to cash in those chips and move him to a team that is on a timetable similar to Bledsoe’s for some assets that fill needs and are on the Suns timetable.
2. Everyone has an opinion on who the Suns should take if they get the 1st or 2nd pick in the draft but what should they do if the worst happens and they fall to 5th?
GuarGuar: Oh boy if the Suns drop to #5 that would be truly heartbreaking. If this happened, the first thing I would try is to package a deal together (maybe TJ, 2017 pick, and a Miami pick) to move up in the draft because the top 3 players are special. If we are unable to trade up I would just stick to taking the best player available. There still is solid talent in the 4-5 range so drafting 5 isn't necessarily the end of the world.
Sun-Arc: There should be excellent options available at #5, but I could see McD potentially moving down to nab someone he really likes. Isaac and Ntilikina would be two players I'd love to get that may go 8 or later. If we get another first round pick by moving down and still acquire our guy its a great move, particularly in a deep draft. Most of the guys projected available between 5-7 (Fox, Monk, Markkannen) don't appear to be players that fit with the rest of our roster. Maybe we get a center with that other pick such as Swanigan, Adebayo, or Collins. Of course, Ryan might actually take Fox at #5 because: Kentucky guard.
SDKyle: My instinct would be to stand pat and take BPA. I could see how it would be tempting to trade up, and it makes sense for McD to explore that option, but my guess is that it would end up costing the Suns more than it would be worth. That said, if someone wants the fifth pick and Brandon Knight for the second pick, I’m happy to make that deal.
Justin: Trying to trade up should definitely be in play, especially if the Suns covet Fultz or Ball. If a team holding the first or second pick needs a point guard (and almost all the lottery teams do), then a package including the fifth pick and Bledsoe (and perhaps another piece or two) could entice the team to trade down. That way, the team gets Bledsoe as its point guard along with another player from this loaded draft.
If the Suns do not find any takers to move up, then they better hope that Jayson Tatum is still on the board when the fifth pick rolls around. Right now, the consensus among mock drafts is that Fultz, Ball, and Josh Jackson will be picked in the top four. The questions becomes whether one of the teams picking in front of the Suns has another player in front of Tatum on their board. If a team does, then the Suns should jump all over Tatum.
Paul: It gets a little dicey for me if the Suns fall that far, because the best players available, which is pretty much McDonough’s M.O., are all players that overlap with where the Suns already have a lot of young talent. I don’t really like the idea of drafting for need versus BPA, but at that point, Tatum will arguably be the best player left AND fills a need for the Suns. If Tatum is gone, I’m not really a fan of any of the other options available. I would probably try to swing for the fences and package the pick, maybe 1 of Warren/Chriss/Bender, and one of the Miami picks to try to put together a package to get either Butler or George. Might as well swing for the fences.
3. After the draft, what do you think should be the Suns' priority during the offseason?
GuarGuar: The number one thing the Suns need to focus on after the draft is defense. The Suns had the 2nd worst team defensive rating in the league this past season. No matter how good our offense becomes we won't be able to do anything special if our defense doesn't drastically get better. This falls on all of our young core from Booker to TJ to even Bender. They need to watch A LOT of tape, practice defensive minded drills, and learn to communicate at a higher level.
Sun-Arc: In many ways, the answer really depends on what happens with the draft. We (still) need to find our starting center of the future. We still need to deal with Knight. But mostly I think this summer is about developing our youth and the team's identity. This past season got us some of the way there, but having well defined offensive schemes, defensive schemes, and set player roles should be the main priority.
SDKyle: Fundamentals. The team needs to implement some sort of cohesive system on offense that the Suns can run regardless of whether it’s Bledsoe, Ulis, or a rookie handling the ball. And on the other end of the court, it’s hard to stress enough how much improvement the team needs defensively. Watson and his staff need to teach defensive awareness, positioning, and movement and not settle for some generic defensive philosophy like “we’re going to be physical.” The Suns were third-worst in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions this season, and the team will never climb out of the cellar without a dramatic improvement on that end.
Justin: Trust the pieces that the front office has put in place. Ryan McDonough has done a great job building a young nucleus through recent drafts, the team has a positive veteran presence in the locker room, and Earl Watson, in my opinion, is exactly the type of coach that an incredibly young team needs. Too many times we have seen the Suns make moves in the hope of reloading (or at least staying relevant), and too many times we have seen that fail. The Suns did not do anything crazy at the trade deadline – and I loved that. So, the front office just needs to stay the course.
Outside of that, I think the Suns need to sign Alan Williams. Is he going to be the Suns’ long-term starting center? No. But neither is Alex Len and I would rather see the Suns keep Williams than Len. Next year’s draft is projected to be a lot more big-man heavy than this year’s, so the long-term starting center for the Suns can be addressed in the future.
Paul: So much of this is contingent on what happens AT the draft. The Suns need an upgrade at SF, so if that isn’t addressed in the draft, I would focus there. Either via free agency, targeting a guy like Hayward or Porter, or trade for Butler or George. I think it is probably everyone’s desire that the Suns and Knight go their separate ways. If it means that McD has to take an L on that trade so be it, just try to limit the bleeding as much as possible. I would let the Center situation work itself out. If the market doesn’t make Len insanely expensive I would consider bringing him back on maybe a shorter, 3 year deal to see if he can finally realize his potential. And I would also see what kind of package the Suns could get in return for Chandler. His value rebounded this year and it might be smart to capitalize on it and try to move him to a contender for younger assets/picks that could help the Suns fill out the roster with players that are on the young core’s timeline. Then fill out the roster with more vets like Dudley/Barbosa to help mentor the young guys.
And there you have it. Just to throw my 2 cents in, I'll say that I agree with everyone on something that they said. Thanks again, guys!
Vote for Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis!
The inaugural NBA Awards show on TNT (June 26 @ 9 pm ET) will include six new award categories that are determined by fan voting. Devin Booker (Top Performance of the Year) and Tyler Ulis (Game Winner of the Year) are both up for awards. Go vote for them at NBA.com now!
2016-17 Season Highlights
Suns vs Boston (March 5) Full Highlights.
Marquese Chriss Top 10 Dunks of the Season!
Quote of the Week
“We have a lot of the core, but we know the centerpiece is obviously Devin Booker.” - Earl Watson (Arizona Sports)
News & Notes
Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker’s 70-spot can be built on in 2017-2018. iSportsWeb
Devin Booker Q&A: What's Next For The Suns Star? SI/The Crossover
Suns coach Watson: Core is growing, but centerpiece is Devin Booker. Arizona Sports
Devin Booker is the only active player with a 70-point game, meaning he has the highest scoring career-high of any player currently in the NBA. Booker also has a greater career-high than the top two career scorers in NBA history and three of the top four: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st, career-high of 55), Karl Malone (2nd, career-high of 61) and Michael Jordan (4th, career-high of 69).
Eric Bledsoe had never reached 40 points in his first 395 career games but then did so three times in six games covering 11 days from Jan. 22-Feb. 1: 40 points at Toronto on Jan. 22, 41 vs. Denver on Jan. 28 and 41 vs. LA Clippers on Feb. 1. Bledsoe’s 11 days needed to record three 40-point games are the fewest in Suns franchise history, two fewer than the 13 days that Charlie Scott needed to scored 40+ points three times from Dec. 7-19, 1973 (Basketball-Reference).
This Week in Suns History
On May 4, 1994 Charles Barkley hit 23-of-31 field goal attempts and finished with 56 points, leading the visiting Suns to a 140-133 win over Golden State and a three-game sweep of their Western Conference First Round series. Barkley's 56 points tied for the third-highest total ever in an NBA Playoff game, and his 38 points in the first half set a record.
On May 5, 2010 the Phoenix Suns made national headlines when they donned jerseys emblazoned with "Los Suns." They were worn "to celebrate diversity on Cinco de Mayo," according to team owner Robert Sarver, but also to protest a controversial immigration law that had been recently signed by Arizona's governor. Los Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs, 110-102 in a conference semi-final contest.
Previewing the Weeks/Months Ahead
NBA Draft Combine, May 9th - 14th.
Lottery date, May 16th.
Draft date, June 22nd.
Summer League play, July 1st - 17th.
Free Agency begins July 1st.
Last Week's Poll Results
The question was, "What do you think will happen in the lottery this year?" The results of the poll were:
- 33% - The Suns will move up to #1.
- 24% - The Suns will stay at #2.
- 23% - The Suns will fall to #3.
- 10% - The Suns will fall to #4.
- 10% - The Suns will fall to #5.
There were a total of 270 votes cast.
And this week's poll is...
When do you think the Suns will get back into the playoffs?
This poll is closed
They will make it next year!
They could possibly make it back in 2018-19.
They won't make it back until 2019-20 or later.