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Center of the Sun: Suns now 4-15 after a disappointing 1-3 week

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The Suns may not be winning more but they are looking more competitive as the season progresses.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

@ Philadelphia 76ers L (119-114) Full Recap

@ Chicago Bulls L (124-116) Full Recap

@ Milwaukee Bucks W (116-114) Full Recap

@ Detroit Pistons L (118-107) Full Recap

The bad news is that the Suns were 1-3 last week. The good news is that they are consistently looking more and more like an NBA team. Every game was competitive until the end. For the week, they were out-scored by a total of just 22 points in four games. Before this week, they were outscored by 20+ points in 6 of 15 games.

”Point Book” is working for the Suns even if it isn’t the solution that everyone wanted.

The starting unit of Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Trevor Ariza, T.J. Warren and Deandre Ayton is a winner. The only problem with it is that it weakens an already weak bench and leads that the starting five build up at the beginning of games tend to disappear before the starters get some rest and get back on the court. Outside of Jamal Crawford, Richaun Holmes and Josh Jackson, the Suns seem to have no reliable bench players. Isaiah Canaan occasionally has a good shooting game but just occasionally.

That leaves the Suns with a fairly reliable 8 man rotation. That just isn’t good enough, especially if one of those 8 is out of the rotation for any significant amount of time.

The obvious need for the Suns has long been a starting point guard but “Point Book” has shown us that the Suns’ bench is another weakness that can no longer be overlooked.

T.J. Warren has done an admirable job moving from the 3 to the 4 but neither Ryan Anderson nor Dragan Bender have earned any court time even as backups. The Suns need a reasonably good big body to throw out there when Warren rests and Holmes is too busy backing up Ayton to split time between the 4 and 5 spots.

To have a chance at winning, the Suns have to play a short rotation and play a relatively small frontcourt. Hopefully, some of the Suns’ problems will be remedied when more players are available to be traded after December 15, but it’s more likely to be closer to the February 7 trade deadline than sooner.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Last week I asked the Fantable for their opinions on three of the Suns’ younger players. This week I asked for their opinions on the three oldest Suns, Jamal Crawford (38), Trevor Ariza (33) and Ryan Anderson (30). We will continue with periodic evaluations of the Suns’ players as the season goes on.

1. Jamal Crawford

GuarGuar: I was very critical of the Crawford signing, but now a month into the season I’m not against it. He’s got the reputation around the league as one of the best teammates out there. And for a locker room with a history of issues, that’s comforting. Jamal shouldn’t be playing more than 15 minutes a game. He loves to settle for mid ranges and plays no defense. He can get hot though, and that’s where he’s come up big for Phoenix. Unfortunately, he’s one of the best ball handlers on the roster, so his role is bigger than it should be. And that’s not Igor’s fault, that’s on the front office. His shot against the Bucks was really great, second clutchest player on the team.

Sun-Arc: I have never been a big fan of Jamal’s. There are times when I hated his presence on the court for opposing teams because he torched us with his shooting, though his lack of defense lowered my respect for him overall. Now that he’s here I’m seeing another dimension of him that I like. He’s coaching the young guys before, during, and after plays and sometimes really gets in their faces about what they did wrong - in a way that I don’t remember Jared Dudley doing.

I don’t love him as a player, and yet I don’t hate his time with the Suns either. He’s hitting his shots again (somewhat) as he gets back into shape, which gives him some value to his court time. He’s directing traffic and helping to run the team, which helps the pups as well. If he can keep doing that AND improve his shooting, he’ll be a good pickup for the team overall.

SDKyle: So this being written in the wake of the Bucks game winner, I’m slightly softer on Crawford. Slightly. He’s not among the worst scorers on our bench, but he’s a scorer who is capable of limited inefficient production. And that’s all he does. He’s a liability on defense and basically just an average to below average passing SG. The fact that he’s one of our better options off the bench at the moment is sad.

SouthernSun: Jamal Crawford has been a steadying influence off the bench. He comes in and can hit the bigs in the paint, make the bucket, and provide valuable advice and veteran leadership. I’m very happy with what he’s brought so far. He’s nothing like the player he used to be, but he’s still a decent bucket getter, and the Suns have a lot fewer quality guards than most teams, so he’ll do for now. Certainly better now than any of the point guards on the roster.

Alex Sylvester: Crawford for being a 38 year old man still has a bit left in the tank. He’s not a good defender by any means but he’s a talented ball handler who can get hot at any given moment.

His game winner last night was big! Id say it’s foolish to downplay the fact that Jamal was a good signing. He doesn’t need anything more than 15 minutes a night but he’s shown the ability to keep the Suns in a game with his play at time. He’s not great but he’s certainly better than what we expected.

2. Trevor Ariza

GuarGuar: Ariza hasn’t been as bad as some people make him out to be. From what I’ve noticed, he’s played as advertised. He’s not shooting a bad percentage from 3, and has come up with multiple high rebound high assist games this season. His defense hasn’t been great, and the +/- numbers don’t love him. From what I’ve seen, he’s been a good player in the first half of games, but pretty bad in the second half. Igor is running him out there a ton and in big spurts too, so this doesn’t surprise me. I’d like to see his minutes come down to around 28-30ish a game rather than 38-40 which we have seen quite a bit. We need him to be better in the second half of games, and cutting down some on his first half minutes seems like a solid strategy. I’d like to see him in the corners more too, as he’s more effective there than some of these wild wing 3 pointers he takes.

Sun-Arc: As opposed to Crawford, I have been a big fan of Ariza. For years I’ve watched him play hard and with effort on both sides, particularly on defense. He gets into the opposing team’s best wing player to help shut them down while hitting open shots and working his way to the basket when he can on offense. All the more reason why I’m perplexed as to his performances this season for the Suns. In particular because of the inconsistencies.

Some games he plays really hard and works on defense, and others he just coasts. People might say its age or others that he didn’t come play for an awful team to work hard- but that runs contrary to everything I’ve seen and read about him as a person and player. Its one of the reasons I feel like something larger is at work with this team over the past 4-5 seasons that has brought it down to the level its at. I’m not sure what it is- Sarver’s meddling or a culture of losing (tanking) that has imploded this Sun’s core, creating a black hole that has sucked the life out of Trevor just as it did Tyson and Dudley before him.

Maybe Igor just needs time to get the team functioning better. For three games in a row prior to Chicago we saw some of that coming to life. If the Igor and the team can pull it together, maybe Ariza rises from the ashes. I’m dying to see that because if there is one vet on the team we really need to live up to his abilities, its this guy. In the meantime I’d like to see him be more of an on-court mentor than I have.

SDKyle: Ariza continues to Ariza. He’s playing like the aging version of the player he has been for the past decade. An average shooter, his defense is predictably beginning to decline leaving us with a $15 million role player. It is what it is at this point.

SouthernSun: Trevor Ariza gets a lot of hate on here. However, he’s playing about as well as could be expected. He doesn’t quite have the same defensive capabilities as he has had in the past, but I sort of understand a slight down tick in interest while playing for this team. He can hit threes and play decent team defense. I thought he’d be a little more effective this season, but age and playing for the Suns can certainly have this effect on people.

Alex Sylvester: Ariza certainly comes off as a player who doesn’t know what he got himself into when signing that contract. His floor spacing has been subpar at best and he doesn’t seem to have the grittiness to the defensive side of the ball anymore.

He’s certainly not worth the money but he’s not the worst thing that has ever happened to this franchise.

3. Ryan Anderson

GuarGuar: Ryno has been really disappointing. He’s shooting under 25% from 3…I don’t even know how that’s possible. If he’s not shooting at near 40%, he’s a BIG negative on the court. And that’s exactly why he’s been cut out of the rotation. Now, I will say I think he should be given 5-8 minutes a game to give Ariza more rest (for reasons mentioned above). Unless he totally forgot how to shoot (unlikely at 30 yrs old), I think he’s due for some positive regression. I understand Ryno isn’t a fan favorite and most people are ready for him to be gone, but I still think we need to give him a few minutes a game to see if he can get out of this funk. Our team shooting is pretty bad. Really nice guy and I’m rooting for him.

Sun-Arc: Anderson is an interesting player. I have loved the stretch-four offense for various teams for many years and Ryan has been one of the best at it on the offensive side. I’ve never been a big fan because of his lack on the defensive end, though I respected his ability to kill opposing teams on the other end of the court. What I have seen from him here is a smarter player than I realized, who really gave his effort on both ends when he did play before he was benched. Unfortunately the benching was a good idea because, though he tried hard, his defense was average (at best) and he couldn’t buy a three regardless of how much money he’s got in the bank on his current contract. And if he isn’t hitting threes, there just isn’t a ton of value for him being out on the court.

Having said that, I hope he stays in shape and gets earns time on the court again this season. He seems like a great guy that has been through a lot. Though this season may signal his sunset I think if he could regain his form he could be a really valuable asset off the bench to get us back into games or extend leads. I won’t guess how likely that is. I just hope it happens.

SDKyle: Ryan Anderson is just a massive disappointment. Expected by many Suns fans to be one of our top five scorers, Anderson is averaging only 5 points on a putrid 43% TS raising the very real possibility that the Summer was a total failure for the Suns outside the draft.

SouthernSun: Ryan Anderson has been so much worse than I thought he would be. I really thought he was going to be at least mediocre. He has not been close to that this season so far. I can tell he’s upset with himself too. He hates how bad he’s been. And so do I. I expected the Suns to be a tad better this year, even without a point guard, and part of what has caused them to let me down is the play of Anderson.

Alex Sylvester: He’s washed up. Anderson would be somewhat serviceable if he could knock down open shots but he no longer can provide that either. His step back is one of the most predictable shots in basketball. Ryan somehow managed to make me miss Brandon Knight.

I don’t dislike the guy but he definitely won’t do anything to win me over.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, SDKyle, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their input!


Key Stats

13.8 turnovers per game

That is what the Suns averaged last week. That is much improved over their season average of 17.1 TOs per game (29th in the NBA) and for the season only 5 teams average that or fewer turnovers. The Suns have shown steady improvement in cutting down their turnovers lately.

Weekly Book Report

36.4 mpg, 24.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 7.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 4.3 TO, 3.6 PF

44.8% FG%, 32.3% 3P%, 85.9 FT%

  • This week - 36.7 mpg, 31.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.0 bpg, 3.8 TO, 4.3 PF
  • 50.0% FG%, 29.7% 3P%, 89.5 FT%

Random Stats: Jamal Crawford’s game winner in Milwaukee was his 10th career game-winning FG in the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. He’s sixth among active players (Carmelo Anthony 19, Vince Carter 15, Dirk Nowitzki 14, Chris Paul 11, Dwyane Wade 11, Jamal Crawford 10). Half of Phoenix’s four wins have come on game winners like Jamal Crawford’s shot with .08 seconds left to stun Milwaukee, the other was Devin Booker’s 17-foot jumper with 1.7 seconds left against Memphis on November 4.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.


Game Highlights

Philadelphia Sixers vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | 11.19.2018

Phoenix Suns vs Chicago Bulls Full Game Highlights | 11.21.2018

Milwaukee Bucks vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | 11.23.2018

Detroit Pistons vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | 11.25.2018


Quotes of the Week

”We’ve had really bright spots throughout this whole season. We look really good, on the same page. I’d say our downfall right now is when things get nitty gritty, we kind of fold and that’s the time we’re supposed to come together even more.” - Devin Booker

”We’re flexible when it comes to the starting lineup. Nothing is written in stone. We’re flexible and we’re going to turn it into another strength where we can modify, depending on who we’re playing.” - Igor Kokoskov


Rookie Report

Deandre Ayron - 32.3 mpg, 16.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg, 2.1 TO, 2.8 PF

  • This week - 30.7 mpg, 19.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.0 bpg, 2.0 TO, 3.5 PF

Mikal Bridges - 21.4 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.8 TO, 2.3 PF, 36.2% 3PT

  • This week - 27.7 mpg, 6.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 TO, 2.8 PF, 33.3% 3PT

Elie Okobo - 15.1 mpg, 6.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.0 TO, 2.1 PF, 26.9% 3PT

  • This week - 4 DNP-CD

De’Anthony Melton - 10.6 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.0 TO, 1.8 PF, 25.0% 3PT

  • This week - 4 DNP-CD/Inactive

George King - Assigned to NAZ Suns

  • NAZ stats - 35.4 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.5 bpg, 4.0 TO, 2.8 PF, 48.8% 3PT

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Bright Side Night Returns!

We are proud to announce the FOURTH annual Bright Side Night, where our community sends deserving and underprivileged children from the Valley to a Phoenix Suns game!

It’s $9 per ticket. No extra fees or charges.

Fill out the one-page form to select the number of tickets you want to donate, and how you’re going to pay.

You will get a confirmation email directly from the Suns about the ticket donation

Click this link to donate: Suns.com/Brightside

And there’s something in it for you too... in addition to the good feeling you’ll get for helping out some deserving kids! For more details, just click on the link above.


News & Notes

Is Phoenix really going to plunk down $150 million on the Suns arena? Laurie Roberts/Arizona Republic

Video: Suns coaching staff spectacularly fails group fist bump. Clutch Points

76ers are proof you can build through the draft, the Suns just haven’t been as fortunate. Brinkwire

Free-flowing offense, Bradley Beal’s availability could be match in Phoenix. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

After Devin Booker’s strong performance at point guard, how will Suns handle starting lineup? Brinkwire

Film Room: Inside the Development of Josh Jackson. BBall Index


This Week in Suns History

On December 1, 1984, Phoenix Suns Coach John MacLeod became the 10th coach in NBA history to compile 500 career wins as the Suns defeated Golden State 115-103.


Suns Trivia

Before Phoenix was awarded their NBA franchise, they were in competition with Milwaukee, Kansas City and Cleveland for one of the two expansion slots in 1968. Phoenix was not considered one of the front-runners. NBA Commissioner J. Walter Kennedy was so dubious about Phoenix’s capacity to support a team that he made an undercover visit in 1967. While there, he caught a Roadrunners hockey game and saw the energetic crowd. He chatted with barbers and cab drivers about sports. He saw the impressive 12,224-seat Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, completed for State Fair events in 1965. That visit to the city sealed the deal and it was Phoenix rather than Kansas City or Cleveland that was awarded a franchise for $2 million in January 1968.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, November 27 - Phoenix Suns vs Indiana Pacers, 7:00 pm AZT

Wednesday, November 28 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers, 8:30 pm AZT

Friday, November 30 - Phoenix Suns vs Orlando Magic, 7:00 pm AZT

Sunday, December 2 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers, 1:30 pm AZT

The Suns have another hectic week with four games in just six days. Two games are at home, two are away and they start of the week off with a home and away back-to-back. The only “easy” game this week will be a home game against the Orlando Magic which are presently a .500 team.

On Tuesday, the 11-8 Pacers come to town. Indiana is presently on a two game losing streak after getting beaten by Charlotte on the road (127-109) and San Antonio at home (111-100). The Pacers are only 18th in offensive rating but are a strong defensive team (5th in DefRtg). The Pacers look like the stronger team in many ways but they are only 3-5 against Western Conference teams and they have only one win against a team currently with a winning record (Memphis back on Oct. 17). I’m going out on a limb and predicting a Suns’ win in this one.

On Wednesday, the Suns head to LA to face the 12-6 Clippers. The Clips are a strong team with a Net Rating of 4.5 (tied for 6th in the NBA). I can’t see the Suns getting a win there, especially on the second night of a back-to-back/home-and-away.

The Suns return to Phoenix on Friday for their “easy” game of the week against 10-10 Orlando. The Magic have gotten off to a better start than in recent years but still have some problems. One problem that is quite familiar to Suns fans is the lack of a starting caliber point guard. D.J. Augustin has started every game for the Magic but he’s really a backup PG... a good one but still a backup. His backup, Jerian Grant hasn’t fared well on the court either. Their frontcourt is formidable but, if the Suns stick with Point Book, I think they can get another win at home.

In their final game of the week, the Suns head back to LA to play the Lakers. In their first game, the Lakers were 0-3, the Suns were 1-2 and the Lakers handed the Suns a 131-113 beating in Phoenix. Since then, LeBron’s Lakers have racked up a lot of wins and the Suns... not so much. While I will always pull for the Suns against the Lakers, the smart money is on another Lakers’ win.

Call me crazy if you wish but this week, I think the Suns will go 2-2.

What’s your prediction?


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was “Should Mikal Bridges remain in the starting lineup after Trevor Ariza returns?”

86% - Yes.

14% - No.

There were a total of 247 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

Who would you rather see getting Isaiah Canaan’s minutes?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Elie Okobo
    (155 votes)
  • 27%
    De’Anthony Melton
    (91 votes)
  • 20%
    Troy Daniels
    (70 votes)
  • 5%
    No one.
    (19 votes)
335 votes total Vote Now