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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns continue search for head coach following snub from Budenholzer

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And as we wait for the NBA Lottery on May 15, the Fantable hands out more player grades for the 2017-18 season.

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

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Many Suns fans - myself included - were quite disappointed when the news came that Mike Budenholzer abruptly withdrew his name from consideration in the Suns’ search for a head coach. That disappointment was probably amplified as the news that he was going to be interviewed for the job came out of the blue as well.

At this point in time, the Suns have also reportedly interviewed David Fizdale, Jay Triano and Igor Kokoskov (by phone). Frank Vogel, Steve Clifford, James Borrego, Kevin McHale and David Blatt are names that have frequently been mentioned as being under consideration but there is no news at this time as to when - or if - they may be interviewed.

And now there is also this to consider:

Although Stein doesn’t mention Phoenix as a possible suitor, I can’t help but believe that Ryan McDonough doesn’t already have Stotts’ phone number on speed dial with a finger hovering over that digit as he awaits some real news concerning Terry Stotts’ possible availability.

For those that would like to keep interim HC Jay Triano on as an assistant, Stotts is the most likely hire to do this. Triano was one of Stott’s lead assistants in Portland before the Suns lured him away to become the associate head coach in Earl Warton’s tenure as head coach so he and Stotts are well acquainted and both might be comfortable with renewing that partnership.

Of course this is all speculation. So far there is nothing concrete about Stotts’ job being in jeopardy but their swift 0-4 first round exit from the playoffs this year following the same result in the 2016-17 playoffs plus his overall playoff record with the Blazers (11-24, .314) could prompt the Portland front office to make a change. That change might also involve a roster overhaul for the Blazers that just barely fell below the luxury tax line this year (according to Spotrac they were literally only $739 below the tax level!) and look to start out next season over the cap without some housecleaning.

There might be many ways for the Suns to capitalize on a Blazers’ reboot but for now it’s a wait-and-see situation as there are no solid indications as to which path Portland may take moving forward.

And as we sit back and wait on more actual news, I’ve asked the Fantable to continue with their post-season grades for the Suns’ players. This week we’re going over the shooting guards and small forwards but with a couple of changes from the way the bigs were graded last week.


Fantable Questions of the Week

It’s report card time again and this time we’re grading the wings. For this week I’ve asked the Fantable to use the following guidelines for handing out grades:

  • A - Above average starter
  • B - Average starter
  • C - Bench/rotation player
  • D - End of the bench player
  • F - Doesn’t belong in the NBA

I also asked them to give two separate grades to each player, one grade for their performance this past season and a second grade based on what they see as each player’s potential/future ceiling.

GuarGuar: Grade A+ / Potential A+

Booker took the “leap” that everyone was hoping this season. Averaging almost 25-5-5 at 21 years old is really insane. This kid is extremely special and we need to do everything to keep him happy here. Can’t wait to see Booker get even better next year!

Sun-Arc: A- / A+

Book is becoming a star. He took a big leap this season, looking completely dominant on offense in most games no matter who he was playing against. My only complaint with him is the defense, which was still sorely lacking- though he improved there too. I think he has potential to be considerably better in that area, so I’ll grade his potential as an A+.

SDKyle: A / A

Devin Booker did everything Suns fans could have asked of him this past season except stay healthy. He became a more efficient scorer, shouldered some of the playmaking duties, and was a reason to pay attention to an otherwise abysmal season. Going forward, I see his potential as a premier NBA scorer.

SouthernSun: Season Grade - A

Devin Booker was fantastic this season. He improved more than most anyone thought he would, and that’s saying a lot considering the sky high expectations for him most Suns faithful had for him at the end of last season. He upped his assist and rebounding numbers, as well as his scoring, while also increasing his overall efficiency, becoming one of the top scorers in the entire NBA.

Potential Grade - A+++

Booker has the potential to become a top 10 NBA player. If he were able to even defend st an average level, he’d already be on the cusp of that. I honestly doubt he ever becomes much more than a below average defender, but he has shown that we can’t count out him becoming and even better scorer and distributor. At 21 he’s already one of the best guards in the league. I’m highly optimistic about what this guy can become in his prime. I’m and most 100% certain that he can be the #1 OFFENSIVE option on a contender. If you didn’t notice the all caps there, I’ll reiterate. Offensive. Booker can most definitely be the best scorer on a contender. Defense will need to be found elsewhere.

Alex Sylvester: A / A+ (superstar)

This becomes an A+ on two conditions. 1) His defense continues to improve 2) The Suns start to win more when he’s surrounded with real talent. Booker should be a top 3 SG within 2 years.

GuarGuar: Grade B / Potential C

TJ increased his scoring to almost 20 ppg which is great to see. Unfortunately, his 3 point shot is still not there and he doesn’t pass. It would be nice to see T.J make his game multifaceted, but I just don’t see that happening. It wouldn’t surprise me if TJ isn’t around next season.

Sun-Arc: B+ / A-

I thought Warren took a good step forward. Last season his per game points was at 14.4. This year that improved to 19.6, which is huge. His per increased from 15.6 to 17.6. And I thought his defense looked better, and at times quite good. I think he can be a major piece of a good team moving forward. Just don’t know about ever adding that 3pt shot that would put him into “A” grade category.

SDKyle: B, B-

Like Booker, Warren did what he could. He’s not the kind of player who should be your #2 scoring option, but he filled that role to the best of his ability and played a lot of minutes. Going forward I think he slides into a fringe starter key bench role.

SouthernSun: Season Grade - B

T.J. Warren impressed me this season. I wasn’t sure how he would do in a larger role offensively, but I came away pleasantly surprised. That said, he’s not a long term answer at either forward position. Today’s NBA requires spacing, and that’s something that TJ simply can’t supply with his near nonexistent three point shot. On top of that, he’s not a good defender. He’s a scorer only. To make matters worse, he doesn’t even draw fouls. He’s a player who scores in the paint and the mid-range, but doesn’t draw fouls, and that makes him inefficient, despite his field goal percentage that would normally suggest otherwise. His TS% is decidedly average. One would think that due to the emergence of Josh Jackson, the smartest move would be to have TJ come off the bench as the number one option on the 2nd unit, but that’s probably not the best idea. TJ does not create his own shot with anything approaching consistency. When he tries, it tends to end poorly. Do you really want your 6th man to have to be spoon fed his baskets? No. No you don’t. But he’s not a true power forward either, and we already have Jackson at the 3. So basically, he should be traded. Sorry Warren fanatics.

Potential Grade - B

I’m pretty sure that this is about the extent of what Warren can be. If he can add a three point shot, he’ll prove me wrong. And I hope he does. But he’s spent 4 years in the NBA, and hasn’t developed one yet. You could blame the unstable environment and neverending stream of coaching changes, but I’m pretty sure he is what he is.

Alex Sylvester: B / B+

I was debating making Warren a B- because I see him as a really good 6th man but if Warren continued to start for a team in the league, he’d be an average starter.

GuarGuar: Grade B+ / Potential A+

2017 JJ was possibly the worst player in the NBA. The difference in 2018 was absolutely massive. Josh looks like a legit pillar this team can build around alongside Booker. That’s a huge relief as we really couldn’t miss on that pick. Hopefully the jumpshot and body come into form more this offseason. I’m really looking forward to his development!

Sun-Arc: B+ / A+

Josh Jackson has holes in his game, and all of them involve shooting. Outside of that, his skills look to be sky high. And I am optimistic he can improve his shot. His ceiling is huge. I think he’s a star in the making.

SDKyle: C / A

Josh had a rough start to his rookie campaign but flashed increasing glimpses into his potential as the season rolled on. Jackson’s athleticism, developing shot and drive to succeed will turn him into an above average NBA starter soon.

SouthernSun: Season Grade - C

JJ impressed me a lot this season. Especially in the second half, obviously. That said, he’s certainly not a starting caliber player yet.

Potential Grade - A+

Jackson has the potential to be a game changer. A two way Kawhi light type, it would seem. I have a lot of confidence in him. Originally I thought he’d develop into basically Andre Iguodala. Now I think he’ll be better, maybe.

Alex Sylvester: C+ / A+ (all-star)

I think this grade could soar up to a B+ as early as next year, but we’re going to base these grades off of this season. Jackson was abysmal to start the year, but began to thrive the second half of the season.

GuarGuar: Grade C / Potential D

Troy did his job this year. He can shoot and that’s it. His floor spacing was a breath of fresh air for a team that really couldn’t shoot the 3 ball. I’m a fan of him coming back next year and being a solid bench piece.

Sun-Arc: C / C

I like Troy’s on-court attitude. He works hard and plays up to his level every night. He plays smart on both ends, though is very limited with his skills. He is a good shooter (40% from 3)- not excellent (Otto Porter is at 44% for instance). And he’s not very good at anything else.

SDKyle: D+/ D+

Troy Daniels is a sniper who does very little else. One of the worst defenders in the league, he nonetheless will stick around because he can shoot. He’s as good now as he’ll ever be.

SouthernSun: Season Grade - C

Troy is a great 3 point shooter. Troy is bad at everything else.

Potential Grade - C

Troy is what he is.

Alex Sylvester: C- / C

I like him for his floor spacing but his defense needs to pick up in order to grade higher.

GuarGuar: Grade D / Potential C+

House really impressed me the last couple weeks of the season. His defense seems legit and he offers a 3 point ability. That dunk in Golden State showcased his athletic ability and was really cool to watch. Certainly someone who could take a roster spot next season.

Sun-Arc: D / C

I really liked what I saw from House. And he seemed to grow at the end of the season. I think his ceiling is as a hustling defensive player who can get to the rim and help a bench squad hold or increase a lead.

SDKyle: D / D+

House Jr. is a not terrible (but not good) end of the bench shooting guard. Nothing to write home about on either end, he doesn’t embarrass himself either.

SouthernSun: Season Grade - D

Danuel House Jr. looked pretty good there at the end of the season playing against teams that didn’t care anymore. I don’t think that means all that much, but I think he can at least be an alright player 10 mpg off the bench.

Potential Grade - C-

Pretty much said it above. Bench player. Probably an end of the bench guy.

Alex Sylvester: D- / C-

Sneaky athletic but doesn’t bring any notable skill on the offensive end. Could work his way up with more experience.

GuarGuar: Grade D / Potential C+

Reed was disappointing, but it was such a small sample size it’s hard to make any definitive conclusions. His defense was good, but the shooting ability really fell off this season. Hopefully he gets more comfortable and can become a rotation piece moving forward.

Sun-Arc: F / C+

Coming out of college Reed showed a high level of skill and good shooting numbers. I’m still optimistic Davon can find his way in the NBA. He never looked totally healed from his injury last summer. If he never does heal, he’ll be out of the league next season. But if he does come back I think he can be a true 3&D wing that can be a beast off the bench. I hope he gets there next season and I hope its with us.

SDKyle: D- / C

Reed had an awful rookie season in which he failed to be either a sharpshooter or a defensive stalwart, his two main selling points out of college. I’m not ready to give up on him because he did suffer a significant injury early, but it’s hard to get too excited about him right now.

SouthernSun: Season Grade - F

Davon Reed was pretty bad almost every time he stepped on the floor this season. He had a good game. I gave him an F, but it’s more of an incomplete.

Potential Grade - C

I think there’s a small chance he can become a bench/rotation player. I don’t have all that much hope for it though.

Alex Sylvester: F / C

His performance off of injury earns an F, but he could dramatically improve with a healthy summer.

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


Season Highlights

Best Devin Booker Highlights 17-18 Season | Clip Session

TJ Warren Full Highlights 2017.11.01 at Wizards - 40 Pts, Career-HIGH!

Josh Jackson Full Highlights 2018.3.17 Phoenix Suns vs GSW - 36 Pts!


Quote of the Week

”Obviously, our reputation isn’t the best throughout the NBA, but I think people that are actually in the NBA see the bright spots here.” - Devin Booker on ‘pitching’ the Suns organization and Phoenix.


Interesting Suns Stuff


News & Notes

Jared Dudley believes Igor Kokoskov is ‘ready’ to be Suns’ next coach. Scott Bordow/ AZCentral Sports

Phoenix Suns: Top 10 moments from 2017-18 NBA season. Gerald Bourguet/HoopsHabit

Phoenix Suns’ coaching search widens as Mike Budenholzer pulls out. Scott Bordow/ AZCentral Sports

A list of potential Suns head coaching candidates. Empire of the Suns/Arizona Sports

Suns’ Booker up for NBA clutch shot of the year, Chriss a finalist for best block. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports

Each Non-NBA Playoff Team’s Key Offseason Decision. Bleacher Report

2018 Suns End-of-Season Interviews: Devin Booker. Suns.com


This Week in Suns History

On April 25, 1968, the nickname “Suns” was chosen from the entries in a contest sponsored by a local newspaper as the name of the Phoenix franchise.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

Devin Booker finished the 2017-18 season with 4,120 career points in 3 seasons and 208 total games played. This puts him at 28th on the list of all-time Suns leaders in career points scored for the franchise. Only one other player - Stephon Marbury - ranks higher on this list (25th with 4,188 points) while also playing in fewer games (197 games in 3 seasons).


Previewing the Weeks & Months Ahead

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, “Which of these three would you prefer the Suns hire?”

86.5% - Mike Budenholzer

00.2% - Steve Clifford

06.3% - David Fizdale

07.0% - None of the above.

There were a total of 444 votes cast.


This week’s poll is..

Poll

If the Blazers fire Terry Stotts, do you want the Suns to pursue him for their HC postion?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Yes
    (163 votes)
  • 48%
    No
    (152 votes)
315 votes total Vote Now