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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns fall to 20-61 but will finish #1 in the reverse standings

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Thank you again, Memphis!

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

vs Sacramento Kings W (97-94) Full Recap

vs New Orleans Pelicans L (122-103) Full Recap

vs Golden State Warriors L (117-100) Full Recap

With just one game left to go, this season is almost finally - and mercifully - over.

The Suns’ major achievement this season has been to lock up the best odds in the upcoming NBA Lottery drawing.

Yahoo.

There’s nowhere to go but up from now on... right?

I hope so but my optimism has taken so many hits in the last few seasons that it’s difficult to believe in a brighter future at the moment.

But that’s what we Suns fans will still hope for (with varying degrees of optimism) and hopefully the moves that the Suns’ front office make this summer will give us all more reasons to believe.

Ryan McDonough has indicated that there will be some roster changes this off-season. Even if the Suns draft Deandre Ayton (or another quality big) in the draft, that won’t solve all of their PF/C problems. And if they wind up drafting Luka Doncic (or Trae Young) then they will have to attempt to solve the weakness in the frontcourt in other ways.

Last week I asked the Fantable for their opinions on what the Suns could do to solve their point guard woes next season. This week I’ve asked them to tackle the frontcourt problems.


Fantable Questions of the Week

1. Who would be your primary targets in free agency or through a trade to improve the Suns PF/C positions if the Suns select Ayton (or another big) in the draft?

2. Who would be your primary targets in free agency or through a trade to improve the Suns PF/C positions if the Suns select Doncic (or another PG) in the draft?

3. Even if the Suns don’t get the Milwaukee pick this year, they will still have the Miami 1st rounder which will likely fall somewhere between 15-17. Is there anyone in the draft that might be a useful frontcourt player if the Suns decide to use that pick instead of trading it?

GuarGuar: 1) If the Suns draft Ayton, that means we are pretty set at center between him and Big Sauce. That would make power forward an important free agent/trade position for us. In free agency, I would strongly consider Trevor Ariza/Luc Mbah Moute as a short term solution. Solid 3 & D veterans who can guard multiple positions and knows how to win. I would try and sign Trevor or Luc to a 1 year deal like the Sixers did with J.J. Redick. Overpay them so they come, and no long term commitment. Now through trade, my primary target would be Kevin Love if LeBron leaves (which I think he will). Love has just 2 years left on his contract, and would provide a star next to Booker and great spacing. I’ve mentioned in the past I would like to trade for Kemba Walker if we draft Ayton. So getting rid of our picks and some salary (T.J. Warren mainly) we could logistically look at a lineup of:

  • Walker
  • Booker
  • Jackson
  • Love
  • Ayton

Yes this is my dream scenario for the offseason. We have the assets and it’s time to cash in. I realize this is somewhat far fetched but I do think there is a chance.

2) If we draft Doncic, my views regarding the PF position are the same as with Ayton. Try for one of those Rocket PFs in free agency or Love in a trade if he’s available. Center is interesting though, as there isn’t a ton of viable options through free agency/trades. Clint Capela would be the popular option, but it’s hard to see Houston let him go. The second best option is probably signing DeAndre Jordan to a short-term deal (1-2 years). We would have to offer him a bunch of money, which would require us to be creative to get rid of salary like Jared Dudley and Tyson Chandler. It’s possible but pretty tough in today’s market.

3) If we do end up drafting with the Miami pick, a useful frontcourt player we could take is Jontay Porter. Jontay is Michael Porter’s brother and really developed throughout this Missouri season. He’s a do it all kind of PF on both ends and plays a very balanced game. Could certainly be a glue guy/fringe starter on a solid team if things pan out right (kind of like we hoped Chriss/Bender would be). I would certainly be open to taking Jontay, but I think the Suns are at the point in their rebuild where we can’t be taking on too many young players this offseason.

Sun-Arc: For the first two questions, these are my top targets, by position, depending on need…

If we need PF:

  • Tobias Harris; trade Chandler, Bender/Chriss + #16pick + another first round future pick (or two if needed); OR TJ + #16 + #32
  • Aaron Gordon, RFA
  • Nikola Mirotic; trade/or UFA (New Orleans team option)
  • Serge Ibaka; trade (only if TOR wants to dump future salary) Chandler+Chriss/Bender+ a pick
  • Derrick Favors, UFA

Harris is above Gordon for me here because of cost, plus Harris is more proven and shoots a higher 3pt% with similar attempts, still just 25 years old. I doubt the clippers would part with him, especially with his $14.8m salary for next year. But who knows?

If we need C:

  • Clint Capela, RFA
  • DeAndre Jordan; UFA (if he does not take his option)
  • Kevin Love; trade Chandler + Bender + Daniels + #16 pick
  • Steven Adams; trade (same as above - if OKC wants to shed future salary)
  • Alex Len; sign as a backup to a top draft pick and if we trade Tyson
  • Dewayne Dedmon; trade or RFA as a backup to a top draft pick.

For the 15-17 pick, I’ve had my eye on Jontay Porter. Seems like he has solid floor and high ceiling potential as a modern big that can shoot from the perimeter, pass, and play D. Robert Williams is more of an old-school down-low center, but looks solid. Mitchell Robinson is raw and a good-sized gamble, but intriguing. Of course if Wendell Carter fell that far (he won’t) I’d certainly grab him.

SDKyle: 1. To be honest, I likely would let it ride with Ayton as far the center position and then still make a serious play for Aaron Gordon. I haven’t totally given up on Marquese Chriss yet especially next to an Ayton type player, so if we had a quality building block like that I wouldn’t feel compelled to move heaven and earth to acquire another PF.

2. In this case I’d be interested in Nikola Mirotic. He seems gettable and should still have a couple quality years left. He wouldn’t be much more than a band-aid, but sometimes a band-aid is what you need.

3. Sure. Robert Williams stands out as a guy with potential. He’s pretty athletic and with his big wingspan could be a nice bench piece in a couple of years. I’ve said before that I don’t think anyone in that range is an immediate net positive in the NBA, but there’s certainly the potential in there. However, most of the best players in that range are wings in my opinion.

SouthernSun: 1. If the Suns select Ayton in the draft, they can focus their efforts on obtaining more power forward or PF/C tweeter types of players in trade and free agency. My number one target would be Aaron Gordon. He’d be a perfect power forward compliment to Booker and Jackson. I would also kick the tires on Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, and Derrick Favors.

2. If the Suns draft Doncic, then they have all sorts of work to do in the big department. The only young big on the roster who I think is a safe bet to amount to anything is Chriss, but he’s still not starter material. My primary targets for trade and in free agency would be Capela and Derrick Favors for Center, as well as possibly Hassan Whiteside, and still Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parker for Power Forwards.

3. Robert Williams is really the only big projected to go around 15th that I’d have any interest in the Suns getting, and honestly, not even him. The Suns should absolutely be trading any pick they have this summer other than their own for proven talent. No question about it.

Alex Sylvester: 1) Selecting Ayton would undoubtedly enhance my intrigue in Aaron Gordon becoming the starting 4 for the Phoenix Suns. A bit of an undersized 4 (6’9/220), Gordon has all types of freakish athleticism needed to guard the perimeter and most bigger PFs around the league. Taken from nbadraft.net, Ayton:”Hedges screens and moves his feet well. Reads and jumps passing lanes incredibly well ... Sees the floor well. Constantly communicates and directs traffic on offense and defense”.

Considering the strengths of Ayton, I think the combined athleticism of each, paired with potentially Marquese Chriss as a backup rim protector, you could be talking about one of the most athletic 4/5 rotations of all-time (unless Alan Williams ruins it...sorry Big Sauce we still love you). If Chriss and Bender are both kept, you could pair those two together off the bench.

2) If the Suns were to pick up Doncic in the draft, I then would look into a few targets through trade/FA:

  • Clint Capela: Capela has been a name circulated (much like Gordon) for quite some time on BSOTS. His strengths fit the needs of Phoenix tremendously, so targeting Clint would be a priority.
  • Derrick Favors: Not nearly as popular of a choice, but Derrick Favors could be a good investment on a short-term deal if the Suns were unable to net either Capela/Gordon.
  • Myles Turner: This is absolutely a long shot, but there’s an off chance that targeting Turner could work. Myles will be through his rookie deal by next summer, so if the Pacers wanted to proceed with Sabonis and pick up some assets, this trade could potentially work. Worth trying a phone call!

3) I can’t imagine a big man picked up between the 15-17 range that would do any service for Phoenix next year. The Chriss (8th overall) and Bender (4th overall) experience has already shown what to expect from young bigs in this league. If I had to guess somebody that might slip to that range that could contribute, I would guess Robert Williams from TAMU.

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


Key Stats

13.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 50% FG percentage, 26.8 minutes per game

Those are Marquese Chriss’ averages over his last 10 games. Not earth shattering but very good and hopefully a sign of things to come. I’m tempted to discount it as one of those “flashes” that we’ve seen before but this one at least deserves notice... especially since he’s also only averaged 2.8 personal fouls during that period. Too bad that it had to happen at the end of the season because I would have really liked to have seen if he could have continued that level of production over a longer stretch of games.

Weekly Book Report

3 DNP-Injured

It’s very likely that Devin will also miss the final game of the season in Dallas. If so, these will be his stats for the 2017-18 season.

24.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 43.3% FG, 38.3% 3PT

Random Stats: In his 19 games with the Suns before his season ending injury, Isaiah Canaan averaged 9.1 point, 4.0 assists, 2.3 rebounds and he still has the highest free throw percentage (90.2%) and plus/minus (1.1) of any Suns player this season.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Game Highlights

Sacramento Kings vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / April 3 / 2017-18 NBA Season

New Orleans Pelicans vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / April 6 / 2017-18 NBA Season

Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / April 8 / 2017-18 NBA Season


Quotes of the Week

”This year, I thought it was going to be the year where we make that jump. And with so many things going on here, we fell super short. So, being a competitor, being a winner most of my whole life, it’s really hard.” - Devin Booker

”I knew from day one that there wasn’t going to be success right off the bat. There was going to be some ups and downs, but also hopefully it’s all up from here.” - 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, 26.3 3PT%

  • This week - 34.3 mpg, 25.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2.0 spg, 1.0 bpg, 3.5 TO, 3.0 PF, 33.3 3PT%, 1 DNP - Injured

Davon Reed - 11.6 mpg, 3.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.5 TO, 0.8 PF, 29.8 3PT%

  • This week - 15.3 mpg, 4.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.7 TO, 1.0 PF, 20.0 3PT%

Alec Peters - 10.3 mpg, 2.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 TO, 0.6 PF, 22.2 3PT%

  • This week - 11.1 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.3 TO, 1.7 PF, 40.0 3PT%

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


News & Notes

Five story lines that define Suns’ 2017-18 season. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Devin Booker aims to rise with Suns. Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated

Phoenix Suns’ draft plan may have Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton at the top. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Alex Len on his five seasons with Phoenix Suns: It was a roller coaster. Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports

After another title, could Suns lure Jay Wright away from Villanova? Doug Haller/AZCentral Sports

Former Phoenix Suns PF Alton Ford passes away at 36. Arizona Sports


This Week in Suns History

On April 9, 1990, the Phoenix Suns sank an NBA record 61 free throws (out of 80 attempts) in beating the Utah Jazz 119-115 in overtime.

On April 15, 1989, Phoenix retired the No. 44 jersey of Paul Westphal, who averaged 20.6 ppg in six seasons with the Suns. He was named the team’s head coach for the 1992-93 season, leading them into the NBA Finals against Chicago.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

The all-time leader in steals per game for the Phoenix Suns is Ron Lee who played 3 seasons for the Suns from 1976-1979. He averaged 2.17 steals per game. Lee was selected #10 in the first round of the 1976 NBA draft by the Suns and made the All-Rookie First Team in 1977. In the 1977-78 season, he led the entire NBA in steals with an average of 2.7 per game.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, April 10 - Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks, 5:30 pm AZ time

This is it... the last game of the Suns’ season. The Dallas Mavericks are also at the bottom of the NBA standings but are also still playing some of their better players. I honestly think that Dallas owner Mark Cuban will give the team the green light to try and win their final game at home even though they are presently tied with Atlanta for the #3 spot in the reverse standings. If that happens, I expect them to get the win,especially if the Suns roll with the same starters and bench that they played in the Warriors game. No offense intended to the players themselves but there’s probably just not enough firepower there to win this one.

My prediction in that the Suns end the season at 20-62.

What’s your prediction?


TankWatch 2018 - Suns Win!

What else is there to say? The Suns’ loss last night to the Warriors combined with the Grizzlies’ win over the Pistons means that the Suns will have the best odds of getting the #1 pick in this year’s NBA Lottery regardless of the outcomes of any other games.

Hopefully, it will be worth all the fans’ suffering this year and the Suns win finally get their first ever #1 pick in this year’s draft.


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “Do you believe that the NBA Lottery is “rigged”?”

34% - Yes

40% - No

26% - Maybe

There were a total of 256 votes cast.


This week’s poll is also about the lottery.

Poll

Even with the best odds, which pick do you believe that the Suns will actually get in the lottery?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    #1
    (177 votes)
  • 34%
    #2
    (218 votes)
  • 17%
    #3
    (110 votes)
  • 20%
    #4
    (129 votes)
634 votes total Vote Now