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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns win final game to finish 21-61. All eyes turn now to the off-season

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The lottery, the draft, a new head coach, free agency and trades.  Will the suns make all the right decisions?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

@ Dallas Mavericks W (124-97) Full Recap


If you just look at the season win/loss records you would assume that this year’s Suns team was the second worst in the team’s 50 year history. In their inaugural 1968-69 season the Suns went 16-66... but that was with an expansion team largely made up of players left unprotected by the other NBA teams in the expansion draft. And that team actually won it’s very first NBA game by nine points 116-107 (vs Seattle) on Oct. 18, 1968. This year’s team started out by losing it’s first game of the season by 48 points - a franchise record - on the 50th anniversary of that first win (Oct. 18, 2017).

In some ways, I think that this team was the worst in franchise history. And that’s not intended to be a knock on the players. They played hard and really seemed to give it their best every night but the deck may have been stacked against them from the get-go. We like to think of the team as the players on the court but every member of the franchise is at least a small part of the team too.

The 1968-69 team was built to be as good as possible with the players that were available to them. I can’t bring myself to say that about this year’s team. Was tanking part of the strategy from the beginning? Or was the team so badly mismanaged that eventually there just was no other option? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

But now that this terrible season is finally over, we hear a lot of talk about changes coming this off-season that will be aimed at making the Suns more competitive. Devin Booker say he’s tired of not making the playoffs. The Suns fans are very tired of not making the playoffs. Hopefully, Robert Sarver and Ryan McDonough are also tired of not making the playoffs and they will at least set next year’s team on the path to accomplishing that.

Some of those changes should be coming fairly soon but it will probably still seem like an eternity for the Suns’ faithful - and anxious - fans. A new head coach, a top 4 pick in this year’s draft and some new faces on the team via free agency and/or trades... as well as a few familiar faces no longer wearing Suns uniforms. Whether it all works out for the best is yet to be seen and there will be plenty of fans dissecting and analyzing every move that is made (or isn’t made) throughout the summer.

As we all eagerly await those changes, I’ve asked the Fantable to take a look back at this past season and give us their grades for some of this season’s players, specifically the Suns’ bigs. Next week we’ll grade the wings (SF/SG) and then the point guards the week after that.


Fantable Questions of the Week

It’s report card time! This week we’ll start off with the Suns’ bigs. I’d just like your grades for the season (A through F) on each of the Suns’ bigs (PFs & Cs) and a short description of why each got the grade that you gave them.

(Editors note: Grades in the headers are composites based on the individual grades given by each Fantable member.)

GuarGuar: B - Chandler served his role pretty well this year. We were a much better team defensively when he was on the court, despite his lack of movement and willingness to guard high in a PnR. His veteran post defense was still a plus and his rebounding was great as always. It’s unfortunate injuries derailed his season, but that might end up for the best as it got us better draft odds.

Sun-Arc: C - While rarely a game changer, he still subtlety changed our team’s play when on the court. On offense he was our biggest PnR threat, and best at rolling to the basket. On Defense, besides rebounding, he communicated and put on some great efforts against some of the best- such as the game he had against Embiid. Some people saw that game as a sign he should be playing better each night- and I agree. But overall for what he is at this point, I think the grade is fair.

SDKyle: C - Tyson gets a passing grade for being one of very few Suns who could be said to have been a positive on the defensive end this past season. But he was mostly dead weight on offense and only played in 46 games.

SouthernSun: C - Tyson did as well as he could have been expected to for most of the time he actually played this season (which was only half). He played well enough that he was shut down for as much of the season as possible due to the positive effect he has on the court. Can’t have him out there contributing to those pesky wins.

Alex Sylvester: C- - Tyson’s days as a serviceable C are done. I appreciate what he’s brought to the franchise but his better days are gone.

GuarGuar: C - Len was up and down all year. He didn’t really make any impressions that makes me want to keep him. He wants to be gone and we want him gone. I really can’t watch another season of him fumbling point blank passes and getting dunked on. He’s a very serviceable backup big and can be used on other teams for sure. But it’s time we cut ties with our former top 5 pick.

Sun-Arc: B- - After I was ready to completely give up on him, Len impressed me this season. The problem is the bar was really low to begin with. But if you look at all the player stats, you’ll see that he has the highest PER and TRB%, and is second highest in ORtg, and VORP. All that has to mean something about his value compared to the other bigs. Also, fun fact: Len has the fifth highest 3pt% on the team. If that doesn’t tell you how badly we need shooters I don’t know what will.

SDKyle: C - Len was Len. Very inconsistent, had some really good games and a bunch of bad ones. Hard to grade him too harshly considering it was pretty clear the Suns had moved on from him by January.

SouthernSun: C - Alex also gets a C. He played well in spurts. Not so well in others. You know, pretty standard for him. All in all a pretty Alex Len-ish season. I expect him to get a small offer from someone this summer, but if he turned down a multi year contract offer from the Suns last summer and instead chose to bet on himself and take the qualifying offer, then I believe he made a bone headed move.

Alex Sylvester: B- - Alex played very well in spurts, but he couldn’t consistently put it together.

GuarGuar: A- - My grade is going to be a complete shock to some I know. But I’m grading Quese in a different fashion. Chriss was out of shape to start the year. Then he got in shape and had a really good 2-3 week stretch. Then Marquese got hurt and his play went down as expected. Then Chriss got healthy again and tore it up the final 2 months of the season. It was a very difficult season for Quese, but I give him credit for taking all the criticism and set backs and ending on a high note. Now he just needs to carry it over into the summer.

Sun-Arc: D - Really its an F for most of it and a B for the past couple of weeks. He’s confounding. But he has played fairly well as of late. Better D, got open on offense and was throwing down dunks again. Decent backup or future game-changer? Who the hell knows?

SDKyle: D - Came in out of shape and was horrible on offense. Truly awful. Decent showing as a defender, but arguably regressed from last season overall.

SouthernSun: C - Wow, lots of C’s going around. Chriss started off the season horribly. Out of shape. Looking like he had regressed. Disappointing. However, he seemed to have really turned a corner in the latter part of the season. I was impressed with what I saw from him for the last month or so. If it wasn’t for the last month or two, I would have given him a D, but he proved that his performance last season wasn’t a fluke, so im going with C. Technically it’s a C-.

Alex Sylvester: C - This grade was nearly an F until a month ago, but a strong finish has renewed my interest in Chriss for potentially another season.

GuarGuar: C+ - Dragan’s 3 Point % was very encouraging this season. That’s about it from him. He still is very passive, not a good rebounder, and disappears in games. I was high on Bender in the draft and I’m very disappointed with his first 2 years. Hopefully something sparks him this summer.

Sun-Arc: D+ - The grade is really an F for 70 games and an A- for the 12 where he showed some aggression. He gets the ‘+’ over Chriss from me because of how much he improved his 3pt shot (from 28% to 37%). But I have no idea if he’ll be in the NBA in two years. He will need a damn good summer and camp to have any playing time next season.

SDKyle: D- - Somehow I can’t bring myself to give an F grade here...probably because bender did improve over last season. He finished with a couple of solid games, but was basically a non-factor most of the year.

SouthernSun: D - Have you seen that little clip on facebook from I believe funny or die? The Zach Morris is trash one? Gives examples of Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell being a garbage person? I want to make one of those for Dragan Bender. With the little sing song beginning and everything. You wouldn’t even have to cherry pick. You could literally use 95% of the times he touched the ball this season as examples. He would have gotten an F if it weren’t for the flashes he showed randomly in early 2018 and for the last couple games of the season. Two double digit rebound games in a row? OK, that’s worth bumping him up into the D’s.

Alex Sylvester: B- - This grade might seem a bit high, but I’m basing it off the fact that I thought Bender was quite possibly the worst player in the NBA last year. He’s made progress, but still has a long way to go.

GuarGuar: B - Dudley still is bringing that veteran voice in the locker room and he’s still knocking down 3 pointers at a high clip. Not really much to judge him off of.

Sun-Arc: C+ - Always ready to come in and try his best to help out. Unfortunately, his best ain’t all that great anymore. Still a good shooter, smart player, and helps the younglings play better.

SDKyle: C- - Not a lot I can say. He’s an overpriced scrub at this point, but that isn’t his fault.

SouthernSun: D - Oh Jared. You’re fat. I can say that. I’m fat. I also have fat friends, and they said it’s okay if I say it, too. He can hit an open three still. And he knows how to play basketball probably better than most anyone else on the roster. Still great at moving the ball around. But he just can’t physically play anymore. However, I’m giving him a D because I’m like 99% positive that he and Tyson Chandler’s very existence and presence in the locker room was the only thing keeping a full on mutiny from happening.

Alex Sylvester: D- - The only reason Jared isn’t an F is because I like him as an interview. His play on the court as well as his ejections were awful.

GuarGuar: B/Incomplete - As much as I love Alec and want to give him an A+ after that last game, his overall season wasn’t great. However, he did tear it up in the G-league (41% 3pt), so it was only a matter of time before that translated to NBA games. That game just so happened to be the 82nd game of the season.

Sun-Arc: D/incomplete - Not sure about him yet. Plays smart mostly, knows team ball. Played hard. Just couldn’t shoot, which was supposed to be his strength. He looked like the complete offensive package in that last game, so I imagine if he has a good summer and camp he’ll be back.

SDKyle: C - I honestly am skeptical his NBA career will be long, but he deserves this grade for the show he put on at the end of the season.

SouthernSun: Incomplete - Peters had a good game at the end there. Other than that I was completely unimpressed with him in the few minutes he saw the court this season. For now, I’m going with incomplete.

Alex Sylvester: C- - Alec was a sure fire F until his 36 point performance on the last game of the season.

GuarGuar: A+ - Not much to grade here. Sauce played less than 5 games as he was hurt. But he came to almost every game home or away and I gotta give him credit. That’s tough to do while rehabbing a serious injury. It just shows the commitment to the team. I love me some Big Sauce.

Sun-Arc: C/incomplete - Hasn’t done nearly as well as last season’s exciting “come-out-of-nowhere” explosion. I’m willing to give him a bit of a pass, especially since the advanced stats are pretty good in his limited time.

SDKyle: Incomplete - Looking forward to seeing him healthy next season.

SouthernSun: Incomplete - Williams also gets an incomplete, because he missed almost the whole season and only played and few minutes a game for the last handful of games.

Alex Sylvester: Incomplete - I’d like to see Alan back, but potentially at a reduced rate.

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


Key Stats

21-61

That’s the worst record in the NBA and the second worst in team history. The Suns also finished dead last in the NBA in offensive and defensive ratings. They were also dead last in three point percentage, 28th in field goal percentage, 27th in free throw percentage, 29th in assists, 28th in turnovers, 27th in steals and 28th in personal fouls. And, as I reported in a recent article, the Suns also dropped from 4th to 7th in the NBA’s all-time win percentage standings.

Weekly Book Report

Due to various injuries Devin Booker played in only 54 games this season but his 24.9 ppg average placed him 10th on the list of the NBA’s top scorers for 2017-18. The nine players ahead of him were James Harden (30.4), Anthony Davis (28.1), LeBron James (27.5), Damian Lillard (26.9), Giannis Antetokounmpo (26.9), Stephen Curry (26.4), Kevin Durant (26.4), Russell Westbrook (25.4) and DeMarcus Cousins (25.2).

Booker’s assist rate (4.7 per game) was good enough to rank him in the top 50 players in the NBA (45th).

His rebounding (4.5 per game) was 24th among all NBA guards.

Random Stats: Troy Daniels led the Suns in three point shooting this season with a 40.0% average. Devin Booker was second (38.3 %), Dragan Bender was third (36.6%) and Jared Dudley was fourth (36.3). No one else averaged more than 33.3% of their three point attempts. Dragan Bender was also the only Suns player to play in all 82 games this season.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Game Highlights

Phoenix Suns Full Highlights vs Dallas Mavericks | April 10, 2018 | 2017-18 NBA Season


Quote of the Week

”You watch the highlights of [Charles] Barkley, [Steve] Nash and them and how alive the arena was. So, one of my goals is to get it back that way.” - Devin Booker


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 25.4 mpg, 13.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.9 TO, 2.8 PF, 43.2 FG%, 26.3 3PT%

Davon Reed - 11.5 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.5 TO, 0.8 PF, 28.9 FG%, 28.9 3PT%

Alec Peters - 11.2 mpg, 4.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.7 PF, 37.8 FG%, 31.0 3PT%

Shaquille Harrison - 16.7 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.0 TO, 1.8 PF, 47.6 FG%, 23.1 3PT%

Danuel House Jr * - - 17.5 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.5 TO, 1.0 PF, 43.4 FG%, 25.9 3PT%

* Yes, House isn’t technically a rookie but he played in only one game in his first year in the NBA so I added him to the report this week.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


News & Notes

Suns hone in on experienced NBA coaches in head-coaching search. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Devin Booker says he’ll make sure Suns don’t miss playoffs again. ESPN

Josh Jackson’s rookie season full of ups, downs for Phoenix Suns. Kynan Marlin/Arizona Sports

The Glare: What are the chances Devin Booker does not re-sign with Suns? Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

NBA mock draft 2018: Phoenix Suns won the great tank-off. Who should they choose? Ricky O’Donnell/SBNation

NBA Daily: Rookie Trio Shows NBA Learning Curve Is Varied, Basketball Insiders


This Week in Suns History

On Apr 17, 1989 the Suns had their biggest win in team history (55 points) when they defeated the Sacramento Kings 140-85 in Phoenix.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

In their 50 year history, the Suns have lost only 9 games by 40 or more points. Four of those games occurred this season. A total of six have occurred during the Suns’ present playoff drought. Of the other three, one occurred in 1971, one in 1988 and one in 1997.


Previewing the Weeks & Months Ahead

April 22 - NBA Early Entry Eligibility Deadline (11:59 p.m. ET)

May 15 - NBA Draft Lottery

May 16-20 - NBA Draft Combine 2018 (Chicago)

June 11 - NBA Draft Early Entry Entrant Withdrawal Deadline (5 p.m. ET)

June 21 - 2018 NBA Draft

July 1 - NBA free agency officially begins (12:01 a.m. ET)

July 6-17 - 2018 NBA Summer League (Las Vegas)


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “Even with the best odds, which pick do you believe that the Suns will actually get in the lottery?”

27.8% - #1

34.4% - #2

17.4% - #3

20.4% - #4

There were a total of 633 votes cast.


This week’s poll is about the head coaching position.

Mike Budenholzer, Steve Clifford and David Fizdale are all scheduled for interviews this week for the Suns’ head coaching position.

Poll

Which of these three would you prefer the Suns hire as their new head coach?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Mike Budenholzer
    (384 votes)
  • 0%
    Steve Clifford
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    David Fizdale
    (28 votes)
  • 6%
    None of the above
    (31 votes)
444 votes total Vote Now