Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Get excited, Suns fans! Phoenix Suns basketball returns!
Yes, it’s only a preseason game, but it’s also our first glimpse of the Suns in a real, competitive game. While there are still many concerns, the positives can’t be ignored.
Although he’s a rookie, No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton may very well turn out to be one of the best big men in the NBA. How long has it been since the Suns could say that they had someone like that on the team?
Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson add both veteran savvy and three-point shooting to a team that badly needed both. Their presence should help open up the floor on offense and help steady what is otherwise a very young team on both ends of the court.
Several players were added that should strengthen the team defensively. Ariza and #10 draft pick Mikal Bridges should help bring last year’s NBA worst defense back to respectability... especially with Ayton behind them guarding the rim. Likely starting point guard Shaquille Harrison will also make his presence felt on defense.
We also have a new head coach with fresh offensive and defensive schemes. We’ve only gotten a glimpse of Igor Kokoskov’s handiwork so far but what I’ve seen looks far and above what the Suns have run in the past few years.
And there’s Devin Booker.
Although he is still recovering from offseason surgery to his hand, I expect even bigger things from the Suns’ young star this season. With an improved supporting cast and an offense that will likely be structured to make the most out of his talent, that’s not an unreasonable expectation. Adding more shooters to the court around him should spread floor and make his life a little easier by decreasing the defensive attention other teams can throw at him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the NBA scoring title this season.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if his assists go up this season as well. Playing pick-and-roll with Ayton or pick-and-pop with some of the new three-point threats should surely up his assist numbers. Booker is already a very good passer, and having more reliable shooters at the other end of those passes is never a bad thing.
The past few years, I’ve had to talk myself into being optimistic about the Suns as a new season began. This season is different. While I don’t expect the Suns to come out of the gate breathing fire, I do expect them to be fun to watch again. I also believe that they are on the verge of turning the corner and returning to respectability.
This team is still a work in progress, but I think that this season fans will finally see progress on the court. How much progress is still a matter open to debate but, for the moment, I want to just set aside my doubts and worries and let myself get excited about the beginning of a new season.
I hope you all can do the same... at least for a while.
Fantable Question of the Week
1. What are three things that you feel the most positive/excited about for the Suns’ upcoming season?
GuarGuar: Although I have many concerns and questions about this team, I am still EXTREMELY excited about this upcoming season. I did feel this way last year though, and the year before that, and the year before that, and that, and that…and that. So while history has told me I should contain my excitement and hinder my expectations, I’m completely ignoring it and going in with blind optimism! Here are the things I feel most excited about:
1. Devin Booker- Remember those “tire fire” threads on Bright Side a couple years ago about whether Book was “above replacement-level” or “actually good”? Oh how so far we have come! Booker took a monster leap last season and showed all of us we actually have no idea how spectacular this guy can become. Can’t shoot efficiently? Wrong! Can’t be a playmaker? Wrong! Can’t run the Pick and Roll effectively? Wrong! These were all major concerns about Booker entering his third year and he put those concerns to rest rather quickly. And he did it with a SEVERE lack of talent and solid NBA players around him. There’s still a bunch of questions about Booker’s game/potential that have yet to be answered. We won’t get all the answers this season but he should demonstrate to us again how special he is.
For the first time in Devin’s career he will have actual NBA talent around him. He’s got a freak athlete of a center down low who should draw attention. Ariza and Anderson will provide actual spacing for Booker to operate with. The way defense’s could guard Booker in the past simply won’t work anymore. It’s going to be very exciting to see what Booker does with actual help.
2. Coach Igor Kokoskov - The team upgraded in a bunch of ways over the summer, and maybe the biggest upgrade was it’s head coaching hire. Last year we entered preseason talking about “Love and Yoga”, this year we are entering on a much different vibe. Switching on defense seems to be a major focal point this training camp. That should be a big step in the right direction for the worst defensive team in the league last season. And if summer league was any hint, we are going to see a ton of ball movement this season. For a team right now that lacks a clear point guard, maximizing the playmaking abilities of your other players should be a focus. Igor has said all the right things so far, now it’s just about making actual strides. I’m really looking forward to watching our new offensive and defensive systems this year.
3. BSOTS Community - Despite the team struggles these past few years, this has been an amazing community to be a part of. The love for Suns basketball is very real here and you can’t find anywhere else. Whether we go 82-0, 0-82, or somewhere in between, I know I’m going to enjoy being a part of this community this year. We have an unbelievable staff. How new articles are up daily during the offseason is honestly beyond me. The dedication is incredible. Eventually the Suns are going to turn this thing around and I can’t wait to see the joy on here when it happens. I’m really excited to be a part of this community for the upcoming season.
Sun-Arc: 1. Booker & Ayton pick-and-roll reminding me of the Nash and Stat days. I hope. I’ve been pretty high on Ayton as a prospect. As some of you may know, I spent a good deal of time leading up to the draft watching recasts of Arizona’s games in the winter/spring and into the Pac-12 tourney. What I saw impressed me. A lot.
His defense was weak to start the season but improved a lot as time went on. I saw a very agile and quick footed huge dude guarding all five positions and doing it well. People still have doubts- but I saw the same positives signs in summer league where, among other demonstrations, Ayton swallowed up Dennis Smith Jr on multiple plays.
Booker and Ayton should be excellent together in the PnR. I don’t expect the level we saw with Nash and Stat, but I think it could reach pretty close within a couple of months or over the course of the season. Ayton has all the physical requirements, GREAT hands, and drive to succeed. So does Booker. Guys: Make it happen.
2. Igor’s coaching. We haven’t had a good coach here since Alvin Gentry left. And it has showed. I’m super tired of a lack of schemes, lack of direction and identity, and a lack of watchable basketball. But I’ve been reading up and watching video of Igor’s schemes- and this team has been custom built for Kokoskov’s strengths. Yeah, we are still missing a PG but, outside of that, the pieces are all there for Igor to mold an identity we can be proud of. And, I think on both sides of the ball.
Why do I feel positive? Because of what I saw in summer league as a Koko preview. There was actually a frigging set of schemes being utilized — even on defense! What a concept! He had the young guys (outside of Josh Jackson on offense) focused and playing like a team. If he can get a bunch of rookies and super young players to do that with just a week of working with them, I feel pretty good about the regular season.
I will note that, as I have mentioned before, I do not expect the team to look great out of the gate. Though I do think within a couple of months we’ll see some big improvement over the past couple of seasons.
3. Vet leadership. I’ve been reading around the league about the way players view Ariza and Anderson, and I’m very hopeful that now we’ll actually see changes on the court that will provide for young player development. Jared Dudley did his best within a lack of coaching going on, but he was not the on and off court leader/example that Ariza is. My favorite tidbit was that when he was with the Lakers, players were shocked that anyone was as regimented and hard working as Kobe - and it was Ariza.
Anderson does not have as big a role, I think, but its still important. Both of the guys need to communicate on defense and show the young guys what it takes to succeed. That Trevor and Ryan are very close should help a lot. They’ve apparently discussed how to help shape the team and show the younglings how to play the right way. And for that I am excited: Vets that can still perform and will be starters so the team actually looks (at least somewhat) competent.
SDKyle: 1. Deandre Ayton. I usually don’t go all in on rookies, and I do think Ayton will have some growing pains, but just like McD I’ve got my chips down on this guy. I truly believe he has top 10 player in the NBA potential and could surpass Booker as our best player within a couple of years. That’s no knock on Booker, just a demonstration of how much I’ve bought in on Ayton.
I’m really excited to see him playing a large number of minutes against quality NBA competition.
2. Igor Kokoskov. Yes, I listed Kokoskov as a concern/doubt last week. But I think it’s fair to also label him as someone I’m hopeful about.
Let’s admit it...the Suns’ coaches since Mike D’Antoni have ranged from mediocre (Alvin Gentry) to below average (Hornacek, Triano) to awful (Watson, Hunter). Kokoskov represents a fresh start, and a chance to erase this almost decade-long futility in head coaching. At this point I have to be hopeful, in spite of my doubts.
3. Devin Booker. Injury aside, this is Booker’s statement year. He says he’s sick of losing. He wants to build a legacy in Phoenix. Well, here we are. He’s entering his physical prime and has plenty of experience. Show us what you got, Book. I’m anticipating something pretty good.
SouthernSun: 1. Shooting
I think that with the moves the Suns have made, they have made themselves a much better three point shooting team. Starting Shaquille Harrison (if that happens) hurts that a bit, assuming he plays somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 mpg, but otherwise there will be plenty of shooting in the starting lineup (Booker, Ariza, Anderson), and several reserves (Dragan Bender, Mikal Bridges, Troy Daniels) who can bomb away as well. If Daniels isn’t traded, I actually see him playing a bit more than most people probably do. I imagine that most Suns fans are assuming he’ll be riding the bench most games, but he was the Suns most accurate 3 point shooter last season. If he’s not traded then his shooting off the bench to space the floor for T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson will be necessary. Unless of course Davon Reed looks better than I expect him to look in actual NBA games.
2. The young wings’ development
I’m really looking forward to seeing if Jackson makes a leap, or if Bridges emerges as a serious rival for his spot as future starting small forward. This should be an entertaining storyline at least. I’m almost certain that eventually one of the two will be included in some sort of trade in the next couple years, but until then it will be interesting to watch it play out.
Oh god am I looking forward to watching Ayton. The roller coaster of this offseason with its constant “Yes! No! Wait, Yes! No! Point guard!?” has had me almost forgetting that the Suns just drafted one of the most highly regarded draft prospects in recent memory. Will he prove his doubters wrong and appear competent on the defensive end while also showing all that offensive skill and monstrous size and athleticism that helped bring him to the top of most of the NBA world’s draft boards? Will he dunk on Joel Embiid in their first meeting, resulting in thousands of people tweeting pictures of Ayton jamming it in Embiid’s face next to the picture of him drawing himself doing that over the summer? Will the Suns point guard rotation who are largely comprised of the same players from the Suns summer league point guard rotation magically learn to better feed Ayton in the post? Anything is possible. Suns basketball is almost upon us.
Alex Sylvester: 1. I’m actually under this weird impression that we will…compete?
What is this sorcery?
The talent upgrades, the veteran additions, and a promising looking coaching staff makes me believe that the Suns will be competitive just about every night they take the floor. Obviously, there will be a couple letdowns but this would be a massive improvement from last year’s debacles. Having competitive basketball to watch will be a blessing.
2. Deandre Ayton.
I’m super excited to see what type of rookie year he’ll put up. Can he reach 15+ ppg? Is he dominant early on? How does he look defensively?
I have a very good feeling about his season coming up. Add Mikal and even Elie Okobo/De’Anthony Melton in the equation and you have some intriguing rookies to watch.
You kidding me... playoffs?
Herm Edwards said it best when it comes to a farfetched but fascinating question for the upcoming season: can the Suns stay in the playoff hunt until the last month of the season?
I’m not implying the Suns will make the playoffs in this crazy conference of ours, but can the Suns stay alive towards the end?
It would make my heart smile if the Suns could were able to win 35+ games and stay in the hunt for a bit.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, SDKyle, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their input!
2017-18 Season Highlights
TJ Warren Top 10 Plays from 2017-2018 NBA Season
Josh Jackson All 65 Dunks Full Highlights
Devin Booker Sets 3-Point Contest ROUND RECORD with 28 Made Three’s
Quotes of the Week
”He’s an unbelievable player with just his right hand. The fact that he’s able to use his left hand or working on using his left hand as equally as good as his right, just makes him that much more dangerous.” Trevor Ariza on Devin Booker
”I really see him (Ayton) dominating. I saw enough yesterday in practice, as we got into more competitive contact work and atmosphere, I started to see glimpses of what I can see him doing in the future.” - Tyson Chandler
Interesting Suns Stuff
Hope you’re having a great Saturday here’s Deandre Ayton dancing in a chicken costume pic.twitter.com/oYwnvTqh2t— Gina Mizell (@ginamizell) September 29, 2018
News & Notes
Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker working overtime to become ‘more dangerous’ with left hand. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
Deandre Ayton’s Biggest Question Is His Defense, But Tyson Chandler Believes He’ll Be Great. UPROXX
Can We Just Admit Devin Booker Is Good? NBA Math
Ryan Anderson lands in ideal situation for fresh start with Suns. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports
Suns remind veterans Tyson Chandler, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson of former teams. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
Phoenix Suns: 3 goals for Elie Okobo’s rookie season. Gerald Bourguet/Hoops Habit
Suns coach Igor Kokoskov’s offense all about spacing, playmaking and decision-making. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
Suns 2018-19 Season Win Total: Phoenix Will Need a Season to Grow. The Action Network
Suns History in Video
On February 1, 2012, Steve Nash had 30-points and 10-assists and became the Suns’ all-time assists leader.
Did you know that the first “professional” sports team in Phoenix known as the Suns was a semi-pro football team that played in the Western Professional Football League more than a decade before the NBA came to the Valley? That team’s owner trademarked the name back then and eventually received an out-of-court settlement for its use by the team that we all know of today as the Phoenix Suns.
Previewing the Week Ahead
Oct. 1 - Phoenix Suns vs Sacramento Kings, 7:00 p.m. AZT
Oct. 3 - Phoenix Suns vs New Zealand Breakers, 7:00 p.m. AZT
Oct. 5 - Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers, 7:00 p.m. AZT
- All home games will be streamed live on Suns.com through the RISE Network.
We’re finally back to actual basketball again and the Suns start the preseason with three home games during this first week. With preseason games, predictions are difficult as they’re basically live scrimmage practices for both teams and with Devin Booker sitting out, I won’t even try.
They should still be fun to watch and interesting even with Booker out. How will Igor Kokoskov adjust his starting lineup with his best player off the court? Who takes over the alpha role on offense? Which point guard looks the best running the offense?
I could go on and on with things to watch for, but I won’t, as BSotS fans are a pretty smart bunch and already know what (and who) they want to keep an eye on in these games. Just sit back and enjoy! There are two more preseason games next week and the regular season starts the following week with the Suns at home on Oct. 17 against Dallas.
Last Week’s Poll Results
The poll was “If the Suns don’t bring in another point guard, who should start during preseason?”
55% - Shaquille Harrison
19% - Elie Okobo
14% - De’Anthony Melton
11% - Isaiah Canaan
There were a total of 242 votes cast.
Although preseason records don’t really mean anything, this week’s poll is...
The Suns will finish the preseason with a _____ record.
This poll is closed