Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Last week I predicted that the Suns would win 3 of the 5 games this week. That was before I knew that Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes were injured and be sidelined for 4 of those 5 and Rubio’s injury would hobble him for the game he tried to play in.
Under the circumstances, one out of five isn’t bad... especially when the Suns kept two so close that they could have gone either way at the end and one more (the Denver game) was much closer than the final score indicates. If Rubio and Baynes had been healthy and played, I think that the Suns might have won 4 of those 5 games.
But it wasn’t to be.
I’m still not sad or upset over last week though. The Suns had some good performances from guys that we weren’t counting on at the beginning of the season. Elie Okobo has looked much better than last season. Cheick Diallo was our leading scorer against Denver. Cameron Johnson has stepped up and had good outings.
Even though it didn’t add up to wins on most nights, many of the guys we usually think of as the supporting cast stepped up and proved they can contribute. That bodes well for this team as the season progresses. That means that games aren’t automatically lost whenever starters are out with injuries. It means that when everyone is healthy, this is a very good team. It means that no one can overlook the Suns on any given night anymore.
Most of all, it means that Suns fans once again have a team that they can be proud of.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Has Devin Booker been playing a little too unselfishly?
GuarGuar: No, Devin has not been playing too unselfish. Not at all. He’s playing within the system and consistently making the best decisions for his team. New Orleans trapped him all game on Thursday, so he used it to create 4 on 3 opportunities for Suns all game. Unfortunately, we did not take advantage of it. On Saturday the Wolves just gave Booker single coverage and we saw what he did. Constant pick and rolls to get to his spots and he dominated the second half to win us the game. That was the best plan for us to win and that’s what he did. He’s taking what the defense is giving and making the optimal plays.
Sun-Arc: I think Booker is doing what he needs to do. He can’t be the only person getting points on the team- that would really hamstring the team even more than they have been. He needs to get the other guys as involved as possible so they continue their motion offense. He’s doing the right thing. The other vets just need to step the heck up in the absence of the other three of their best four players.
SDKyle: Nah. If what Devin Booker has done this year STILL has you looking for nitpicks to blame him for Suns losses, you’ll probably just never be satisfied.
When it comes down to it, do I want Booker taking shots, or Saric and Bridges etc.? Easy decision, especially when a bunch of our guys aren’t really hitting even open shots.
SouthernSun: Devin Booker has definitely been playing too unselfishly. I get it though. He’s trying to play within Monty Williams system, moving the ball, trying to get other guys involved. However, when the Suns are lacking many of the guys worth passing to due to injuries, Booker needs to take matters into his own hands. We know he knows how to do that. Kaminsky isn’t a high usage scorer, at least not as a starter, and Dario isn’t consistent enough to be relied upon. Kelly isn’t a great shooter. Booker needs to just decide to dominate when Rubio is out. He has the ability to.
Alex S.: To an extent, sure. I don’t mind him trying to play within the system but you would’ve liked to see him step up during the losing streak towards the end of games and try to close things out. He’s also drawn tough matchups and also will get doubled at times so it’s hard for me to expect him to battle through that all the time.
Q2 - The Suns actually have an open roster spot for the duration of Deandre Ayton’s suspension. Should they fill that spot or not?
GuarGuar: I would use it on a center obviously, but if we haven’t picked one up by now I doubt we are going to. Maybe it’s part of an effort to get Deandre back before 25 games? We haven’t heard anything regarding whether his appeal got denied. If we were going to pick someone up we probably would have done it weeks ago.
Sun-Arc: Filling that spot would seem like shades of tankville. Yuck. But, still, yeah I suppose they could. Ray Spalding for an athletic big that can move their feet, maybe? I half-jest. I really don’t know who’s available. They could use some help, but I really don’t know how much any 10-day or non-guaranteed type contract would help right now.
SDKyle: I’m totally agnostic on this point. Whoever we were to fill that spot with would just be a garbage time hero at best. I’m tired of the seemingly endless cycle where some random G-leaguer hits a couple threes and has a couple of steals at the NBA level and we have to talk about “his future with the team” for the next 2 months.
So if they want to fill it, sure. If not, great. Three weeks from now it will no longer matter.
SouthernSun: Yes the Suns should absolutely fill that spot, and it should be filled by Alan “Big Sauce” Williams. It would be great to have his energy on this team now, and the Suns really need another big body. Frank and Dario have been a little banged up. Baynes is out. Ayton suspended. Diallo can only really contribute on one end. I don’t see why they wouldn’t.
Alex S.: Maybe with the amount of big man injuries, it’d be smart to get a third center for the time being! Not sure who would be the best available option off the street.
Q3 - Do you believe that Ty Jerome could have made a difference if he had been healthy and played while Ricky Rubio has been injured?
GuarGuar: Ty Jerome absolutely would have made a big difference. He’s a natural playmaker. The other “point guards” on our roster are not. Okobo is a score first PG with average vision. Tyler is not even a natural point guard, he’s a 2. Ty’s playmaking would have helped greatly in Rubio’s absence. Hopefully he returns soon.
Sun-Arc: A lot of rookies look decent-to-good in the preseason and can’t really hack it in real NBA games. We really haven’t seen enough of Jerome to know. He might have helped a little. Maybe more than a little for all I know. But I refuse to pin any real hopes on a rookie to save the day. Even one as poised as Jerome.
SDKyle: I suppose it’s likely he might have helped a little? Hard to say. Most rookies, especially rookie PGs, are not actually very good relative to veteran NBA PGs. But I guess if he prevented Okobo from seeing the court that would probably be good. He’s got to be better than Okobo, who still looks terrible in my humble opinion.
SouthernSun: I can’t say with certainty, but I believe that to be the case. We haven’t seen him against NBA competition anywhere but in preseason, so it’s hard to say, but from what he showed then I do think it would have been beneficial to have him. He’s a good playmaker and shooter. Despite him not necessarily playing horribly the last couple of games, I definitely think Ty Jerome would be at least a small upgrade over Elie Okobo.
Alex S.: I think he would’ve made a difference when Ricky was sidelined with back spasms. The playmaking during that stretch was subpar and that lead to less efficiency from the 3 point line. It’s fair to say that Ty would’ve been able to help that quite a bit assuming he were 100% healthy.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!
That is the Suns three-point shooting percentage last week. It was 25th in the NBA for that period of time. For the season, the Suns are shooting 37.0% from three which is ranked 8th in the NBA. Last week their field goal percentage dropped to 42.5% (27th) for the week. Their season FG percentage is 46.0% and ranks 12th.
Random Stats: Devin Booker shot only 28.6% from three last week. Kelly Oubre Jr. (2.2) and Mikal Bridges (1.8) combined for 4 steals per game last week.
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.
Boston Celtics vs Phoenix Suns - Full Game Highlights | November 18, 2019
Phoenix Suns vs Sacramento Kings - Full Game Highlights | November 19, 2019
Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans - Full Game Highlights | November 21, 2019
Phoenix Suns vs Minnesota Timberwolves - Full Game Highlights | November 23, 2019
Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets - Full Game Highlights | November 24, 2019
Quote of the Week
”It’s (Ayton’s return) gonna make us a better team. I firmly believe that. When we get him back, it’s gonna be like signing a big free agent.” - Monty Williams
Cameron Johnson - 18.7 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.6 TO, 1.7 PF, 40.9 3PT%
- This week - 22.5 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.6 TO, 1.8 PF, 40.0 3PT%
Ty Jerome - DNP - Injured
Jalen Lecque - Assigned to NAZ Suns
Jared Harper - Assigned to NAZ Suns
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.
Injury Status Report
Ty Jerome (ankle) - Expected to be out until at least Nov. 27.
Deandre Ayton (suspension) - Expected to be out until Dec. 17.
Ricky Rubio (back spasms) and Aron Baynes (hip flexor) - Day to day.
News & Notes
Between Luka Doncic, suspension and Suns’ recent struggles, pressure’s on for Deandre Ayton. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back
The Phoenix Suns’ Hot Start Has Cooled, but They’re O.K. With That. NY Times
Kelly Oubre Jr. on Bill Self, Carmelo Anthony, Suns Top B/R AMA Quotes. Bleacher Report
Second-Year Guard Elie Okobo Is Stepping Up As Phoenix Suns Look For Answers Amid Losing Streak. Brendon Kleen/Forbes
Los Suns Noche City Edition. Suns.com (Lots of pics, vids and history of the Los Suns uniforms)
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.
Devin Booker is currently the Suns’ all-time leader in Usage Percentage at 29.0%. 2nd is Walter Davis at 27.5%, 3rd is Paul Westphal at 27.4%, 4th is Charles Barkley at 27.1% and 5th is Tom Chambers at 27.0%
Previewing the Week Ahead
Wednesday, November 27 - Phoenix Suns vs Washington Wizards, 7:00 pm AZT
Friday, November 29 - Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks, 7:00 pm AZT
After running a five-games-in-seven-days gauntlet last week, the Suns get a break in their schedule. Beginning with two days off, they face only two opponents at home this time around.
Their first game on Wednesday night will be against the Washington Wizards. The Wizards will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back while the Suns will come into the came following two days off. The Wizards aren’t a very strong team but they still have Bradley Beal who is currently the NBA’s second leading scorer (30.3 ppg) behind James Harden. They can also fill it up from three (37.9%, 5th) and have moved ahead of the Suns into 1st in assists per game (28.8). Their OffRtg is 114.3 which is 2nd best in the NBA. Their DefRtg however is 114.8 which is 29th. It should be a high scoring game and I’m picking the Suns to win at home against a weary Wizards team.
On Friday night, Luka Doncic and the 11-5 Dallas Mavericks come to town. Doncic is averaging almost a triple-double while scoring right at 30 ppg. The pairing of Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis didn’t start out quite as smoothly as the Mavs had hoped but it’s working well now and Dallas now has the No. 1 offense in the NBA. They’re just about average on defense (17th) but they have the 2nd best net rating. As a team, both their EFG% (55.4) and TS% (59.0) are better than the Suns (53.1 and 57.6 respectively). It looks as though it all adds up to a Suns’ loss... but I’m not calling it that way. If both Rubio and Baynes are back for this one - and I expect them to be - I think that the Suns will get a very hard fought win at home.
I’m predicting that the Suns go 2-0 this week.
What’s your prediction?
Important Future Dates
December 15 - First day that players signed to new contracts can be traded.
- The Suns cannot trade Frank Kaminsky, Cheick Diallo, Ricky Rubio or Jalen Lecque until 12/15/19 and Kelly Oubre Jr. cannot be traded until 1/15/20.
January 5 - First day that teams can sign players to 10-day contracts.
January 15 - Last day to sign players to Two-Way contracts.
February 6 - NBA Trade Deadline (3 pm ET).
February 14-19 - NBA All-Star break.
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “When Deandre Ayton’s suspension is over...”
29% - He should be put back into the starting lineup.
23% - Aron Baynes should still start and Ayton should come in off the bench.
48% - I’ll leave it up to Monty Williams to decide whether Ayton or Baynes should start.
There were 281 votes cast.
This week’s poll is...
Would you be happy if the Suns made the playoffs this year even if they were swept in the 1st round?
This poll is closed
Only if they barely sneak in as the 8th seed.