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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns lose four in a row to finish the week at 17-33

50 games down, 32 to go and only draft day to look forward to after the season ends... again.

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NBA: Phoenix Suns at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

@ Milwaukee Bucks L (109-105) Full Recap

@ Indiana Pacers L (116-101) Full Recap

vs New York Knicks L (107-85) Full Recap

@ Houston Rockets L (113-102) Full Recap

Four games and four losses in seven days made for a really rough week for the Suns. The games against the Bucks and the Rockets were at least competitive but the other two were - at best - difficult to watch.

The Suns’ star-in-the-making, Devin Booker, had a sub-par week averaging only 18.8 points per game in the four contests. But Booker has been asked to take on even more by the Suns as he has been playing point guard more often and even started the last two games at that position. He did average 6.3 assists per game during that time and in the Houston game we saw him rise to the challenge as he recorded his third double-double of the season (and 6th of his career) with 31 points and 10 assists. But taking on the responsibility of being the primary ball handler as well as being the primary scorer may be asking too much of him.

Whether “Point Book” is going to be a large or small part of the Suns’ future is still in question but we should expect to see it a lot for the rest of this season unless the Suns pull off a trade that brings back a starting caliber point guard before the trade deadline. Isaiah Canaan and Tyler Ulis will very likely always be backup point guards in the NBA so - if the Suns really want to try to win games - that means more Point Book for now.

And should the Suns consider keeping Booker at the point in the future? That would certainly require some rethinking by the Suns about how to move forward with their rebuild if they decide to go in that direction.

These thoughts prompted this week’s questions for the Fantable.


Fantable Questions of the Week

1. What’s your opinion of “Point Book” (aka Devin Booker running the offense as the Suns’ point guard)?

2. If the Suns decide to go that route long-term, who do you think would be an ideal backcourt running mate for Booker?

GuarGuar: 1) I’m a fan of Booker running point for now and seeing how it goes. From the early games of him running it, it seems the only negative is he becomes less aggressive offensively as he feels he needs to set others up. Small sample size but hopefully that doesn’t continue. In the long run, I probably feel Book should only be running point in certain situations and not the entire game. Closing out a half/game is probably the most ideal time to do it, and anything outside of that seems unnecessary. It’s too early to tell though as he just started being the starting PG. A lot of his success as a PG also has to do with surrounding him with the right personnel, and we don’t have that right now. He needs shooters around him and there are only 2 outside of Booker in the rotation.

2) If the Suns decide to go with Point Book long term, the best backcourt mate would be a 3 and D type of guard. Someone who can defend the tougher opposing guard on any night similar to what Klay Thompson does for Steph Curry. Avery Bradley comes to mind as someone we could acquire in free agency. There also is the chance Davon Reed could develop into that sort of player (long shot though). Booker’s biggest weakness is defense so that would certainly be the number one quality this backcourt mate must have.

Sun-Arc: I don’t feel there is enough data to know for sure whether Point Book (PB) is; 1) a real thing; or 2) a good thing.

Evan Sidery has done some excellent writing on the subject showing some positive effects in a small sample size. But the last two games (Milwaukee & Indiana) as of when I wrote this show that PB can currently be easily dismantled. High turnovers and low scoring production for Booker in these games show we may still be best served to have a top-end point guard running the show.

Really - the reason why it appears to work well is that Booker is simply the best player on the team. Yeah - he can do it all, but that is because he’s a star (or will be soon). But should he? Is that the best way for us to get back to contention? I’m not so sure. And even Houston decided to acquire Chris Paul to put alongside Harden.

If the Suns did decide to run with PB long-term, the seemingly obvious choice for a point guard would be someone in the mold of Patrick Beverley or a better version of Ricky Rubio - a player that can defend and pass - though he should also be able to hit 3’s at an above average clip. Beverley or George (over the) Hill may fit. Frank Ntilikina seemed like the right young guy to grab in the draft if we could have gotten the chance- though he’s unproven as all-get-out and we need help now.

Thinking in another direction, can you imagine what Steve Nash would do with Booker and T.J. Warren? But there really isn’t anyone that passes like Nash anymore. Chris Paul is not quite what he used to be on that front - or maybe it’s the NBA that’s fundamentally changed. Either way, I really miss it.

As good as Booker is, the best PG to put next to Devin is the best one we can possibly get. I think Kemba Walker would be a pretty darn good backcourt partner for him. I’d love John Wall too. But outside of a 27 year old CP3, Nash, Stockton, or Magic Johnson - not sure there is a perfect partner for Booker currently floating around. We gotta do the best we can and see what we can get.

SDKyle: I’ve never been a fan of “Point Book” beyond a change of pace look used a few minutes per night. Booker is a natural shooting guard in size, physical ability, and skills. Can he play PG without getting egg on his face? Sure he can. But Booker is such a gifted scorer that I don’t see why we’d want to make it his primary mission to create looks for other, less talented scorers. Booker needs to be playing mostly off the ball, running around screens and getting himself open so that teammates can find him and he can focus on doing what he does: put the ball in the hoop.

If the Suns DO decide to go with “Point Book” long term, I think it works best with a backcourt mate who can both shoot and play at least average defense. Someone like Danny Green or Kent Bazemore, or even Gary Harris could provide the spacing to let Booker operate while also taking the tougher defensive assignment off his hands.

SouthernSun: I am not a fan of the Point Book idea. I suppose I’m okay with experimenting with it while we have zero better options on the roster, but, Lord willing, that won’t be the case too much longer.

Booker is not a good enough playmaker to be a full time point guard. He’s a pretty good one for a SG, and the team should certainly occasionally use him like that in certain situations, but it’s not a good idea to build around it.

Booker needs to have plays run for him, not try to get other guys involved. Leave that to a player who really is capable of being a good point guard, with better playmaking abilities than Devin.

Also, Booker is having to chase little waterbugs all over the court on defense all night, which is gassing him. He’s asked to play like 34 minutes a night, at least, and he’s having to do EVERYTHING for the team on the offensive end, while also trying to play defense against players that are markedly quicker than him. It’s a recipe for disaster. Play your best player in the spot where he is the best suited. For Booker, that’s shooting guard.

If we did go the Point Book route, which I vehemently hope we do not, then there are a couple players that make sense. Good defenders who can space the floor with their 3 ball, and guard ones and twos without too much trouble. First choice would be Avery Bradley, like everybody else. Second choice would probably be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Neither should break the bank, but I’d rather the Suns go after a big like DeMarcus Cousins (though he’s a bit of an unknown now considering his injury, which actually might make him easier to sign this summer) or Clint Capela if the Rockets show more interest in going after DeAndre Jordan or LeBron James, or are unwilling to pay to re-sign Capela in their efforts to re-sign Chris Paul.

Bradley could probably be had for something like 4 years/60 million. KCP might cost even less.

But again. Please no point Book.

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


Key Stats

56.2% vs 47.2%

These are the Effective Field Goal Percentages of the Suns’ opponents and of the Suns for the past week. The opponent’s eFG% was up from the season average of 52.8% and the Suns’ eFG% was down from their season average of 49.3% during that time.

Weekly Book Report

4 games, 32.1 mpg, 18.8 ppg, 6.3 apg, 4.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 3.5 TO, 2.5 PF, 3PT% = 36.4

Random Stats: Greg Monroe is the only Suns player other than Devin Booker and T.J. Warren that is averaging double figures in scoring this season (11.1 ppg). Troy Daniels and Dragan Bender are the only two Suns who have played in all 50 games this season.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Game Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks - Full Game Highlights | Jan 22, 2018 | NBA Season 2017-18

Phoenix Suns vs Indiana Pacers - Full Game Highlights | Jan 24, 2018 | NBA Season 2017-18

Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks - Full Game Highlights | January 26, 2018

Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / Jan 28 / 2017-18 NBA Season


Quote of the Week

”We have it in practice every day where we want to fight each other (in the right way) but we get on the court and get shy. As a team, including myself, we all have to come together and have more of a nasty attitude on the court.” - Devin Booker


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 21.9 mpg, 9.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.6 TO, 2.8 PF, 26.0 3PT%

  • This week - 21.8 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.8 TO, 3.3 PF, 18.8 3PT%

Davon Reed - 4.8 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 1.0 PF

  • This week - 2 DNP-CD

Alec Peters - 10.4 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.3 PF

  • This week - 8.3 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.5 PF, 2 DNP-CD

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


News & Notes

Suns’ Jared Dudley has a few more words for Knicks’ Enes Kanter. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Ryan McDonough says Suns will accelerate timeline, be aggressive in free agency. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Who should the Phoenix Suns trade before the deadline? ISportsWeb

Empire of the Suns trade deadline preview: Alex Len. Arizona Sports

With Suns struggling, Jay Triano likely to juggle starting lineup. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Nick in the AM: Pursuing NBA dream, Washington’s Alec Peters keeps traveling. Nick Vlahos/Journal Star


This Week in Suns History

On January 29, 1984, the NBA’s first All-Star Saturday took place in Denver at McNichols Arena. The first ever NBA Slam-Dunk contest winner was Phoenix’s Larry Nance, who used a two-ball windmill dunk to beat favorites Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

Before 2016-17, the franchise record for most consecutive Suns points scored in a game was 18 by Steve Nash on Dec. 22, 2006; Devin Booker has now reset this record then matched his own mark twice in just over a calendar year, scoring the Suns’ final 21 points vs. Dallas in Mexico City on Jan. 12, 2017, scoring the Suns’ first 21 points in the fourth quarter vs. Oklahoma City on April 7, 2017, and scoring the Suns’ final 21 points at Portland on Jan. 16, 2018.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, January 29 - Phoenix Suns @ Memphis Grizzlies, 6:00 pm AZ time

Wednesday, January 31 - Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 pm AZ time

Friday, February 2 - Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz, 7:00 pm AZ time

Sunday, February 4 - Phoenix Suns vs Charlotte Hornets, 1:00 pm AZ time

Another four game week ahead for the Suns but at least this week the competition isn’t quite as daunting and three of the four games are at home. Last week’s 4 opponents had a combined winning percentage of .557 but this week’s four combined are at .379.

First up is the Suns’ lone road game this week, their third game of the season with the Memphis Grizzlies. Both of those games were in Phoenix and both were Suns wins. Memphis is 5-5 in their last 10 games and all 5 wins were at home. As this will be the second game of an on the road back-to-back for the Suns, I think that the Griz will get their first win vs the Suns in this contest.

On Wednesday, the Suns head home for a game against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks are one of the very few NBA teams that still have a worse record than the Suns and the Suns have already beaten them once in Dallas so I’m calling this one as a win for the Suns.

Friday night the Suns face off against the Utah Jazz in their second home game of the week. The Suns beat the Jazz in their lone previous meeting but that was way back on October 25 during the now long passed “dead coach bounce” period. The Jazz are 5-5 in their last 10 games but are a hard team to predict as those last 10 include a 94-93 win in Toronto and a 104-90 loss in Atlanta. But since the Jazz will have two days off before this game, I’m giving them the edge and calling it a loss for the Suns.

And in the final game of the week the Suns will have their first meeting of the season with the Charlotte Hornets. Based solely on season records I have to predict a Suns’ loss but this game takes place just four days ahead of the trade deadline and the trade rumors swirling around Hornets players could be enough of a distraction to give the Suns a bit of an edge and a win. Perhaps a trade might even go down before this game is played which could change the odds completely. It’s unlikely but who knows for certain.

So there you have it, Suns fans. I’m predicting that the Suns go 1-3 this week.

What’s your prediction?


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “If he’s available, should the Suns go after Kemba Walker before the trade deadline?”

The results were:

27.6% - Yes!

20.6% - No!

51.8% - Only if the price is fairly low.

There were a total of 199 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

Should the Suns seriously consider making Devin Booker their long-term point guard?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Yes.
    (15 votes)
  • 68%
    No.
    (141 votes)
  • 23%
    I want to see him play point more before deciding.
    (49 votes)
205 votes total Vote Now