Well, who knew that the Phoenix Suns would look more like a G League team without their two best players in Devin Booker and T.J. Warren? Honestly, it shouldn’t be a surprise with the way the Suns have played the past few seasons but here we are.
On Tuesday night, the Suns came out completely flat while the Sacramento Kings showed all-out effort. The final results? Sacramento cruised to an easy victory at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 122-105.
After how the Suns performed in this one, there’s not many positives to take away from this but I’ll try my best. Trust me, there were plenty of negatives though.
Without further ado, let’s run through my ‘Thumbs Up’ and ‘Thumbs Down’ from the latest Suns loss.
Thumbs Up: De’Anthony Melton
Even though Melton didn’t see any run until Phoenix was already down 33 early on in the second quarter, he immediately made it known why he should be receiving rotation minutes. Two great opening possessions from Melton defensively on Fox, while he also hit on both of his catch-and-shoot three-pointers.
Melton’s lack of playing time during the Suns’ slide is understandable with Elie Okobo needing minutes, but after waiving Isaiah Canaan, he should have taken his spot. Rookies sometimes can develop without many minutes, but, on this team, that’s not the case. Baptism by fire with this team could be the best way to go with Melton, like Okobo, and he certainly showed on Tuesday why that should happen with him too.
The No. 46 pick in the 2018 Draft finished with 21 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal in 23 minutes on 9-12 FGA.
Thumbs Down: Josh Jackson
It didn’t take long for us to see what type of Jackson we would be getting. In only 10 minutes time, Jackson was 0-3 while also registering four turnovers. That’s impressive, albeit in a negative viewpoint. It’s disappointing we saw this outing from Jackson following a week-plus stretch of improved play.
Jackson seems to have the wrong mentality when Booker and Warren miss games. Jackson has never been a primary scorer, he’s an all-around weapon he should be deployed in playmaking and on-ball defensive situations. So far in Phoenix, Jackson has been more like Andrew Wiggins 2.0 instead of a defense-first prospect.
The Suns’ No. 4 pick in the 2017 Draft worked his way up to 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists but the inefficient shot selection and boneheaded decisions continue to show itself through with what was supposed to be one of the more important building blocks outside of Booker and Ayton.
Thumbs Up: Trevor Ariza
This is one of those Julius Caesar half-thumbs because it was a real tough decision for me to put in the positive end, even with a strong game on the box score. Ariza’s effort continues to wane — there were a few egregious possessions versus the Kings — but his shooting is starting to come back around. Ariza chipped in 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals on 5-13 FGA in 27 minutes.
The seasoned veteran signed to a 1-year, $15 million deal on July 1 with a promise of two-way versatility. At least over the past few weeks since Ariza’s return from a personal matter, he’s shown his worth to other teams around the league who might be interested in him.
Thumbs Down: Pride/Effort
To be clear, this definitely should not be a focus of any writer for a team more than 25 percent of the way through its season. The effort from the Suns tonight was absolutely embarrassing, especially in the first quarter when they trailed 36-9.
From the opening tip, Phoenix seemed flat as a tire. Nobody was trying to create any sort of spark. The Suns even had more turnovers than points through most of the opening stanza until a late mini-run, if it even qualifies as one.
Not much time needed to spend on this point, because it continues to rear it’s ugly head on a weekly basis. Again, this shouldn’t be happening 24 games into the regular season. It’s hard to find any answers at this point as to why this continues to seep through the Suns lately.
Thumbs Down: 3-point shooting
Even though Phoenix added two renowned shooters in Ariza and Anderson during the offseason, they continue to struggle from deep. Look no further than the porous percentages from Tuesday night where the Suns finished 12-42 on three-pointers.
On the season, the Suns rank 25th in three-point efficiency (Note: heading into Tuesday’s game). It’s an area that’s continued to plague the Suns over the past few seasons.
One area the Suns need to hit hard in the offseason is adding even more shooting surrounding Booker, Ayton, and whoever their eventual next top-five pick turns out being.
It also doesn’t help when two of your best perimeter shooters, Booker and Warren, are missing in action due to injury.
Well, after falling to 4-19 on the season, Phoenix now travels to Portland on Thursday to face off against the Trail Blazers led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Rough sledding ahead for the Suns, sans Booker, but stay glued to Bright Side Of The Sun for the latest news and notes, as always.