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Center of the Sun: Suns losing streak stretches to six as they continue to fall in the standings

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If the Suns don’t turn things around soon, they can kiss any playoff dreams they may have had goodbye.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers L (111-110) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers L (120-99) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder L (126-108) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Houston Rockets L (139-125) Full Recap

After a good start, the Suns have gradually fallen back into the upper level of the Lottery pack. If the injuries persist, I don’t believe they can even hold their ground and will fall even further in the standings. If the Suns continue losing at the rate they have been since getting off to a 7-4 start, they should wind up with around only 23 wins this season.

That’s right. 23 wins and 59 losses.

It’s probably the worst case scenario but Suns fans are used to dealing with those.

Right now the Suns are 11th in the Western Conference standings. Memphis and Minnesota are both only a half game behind them and they’re 2.5 games behind Portland for the eight seed. Sacramento and San Antonio in the mix also at 9th and 10th. If the Suns want to retain a reasonable chance at making the playoffs - or even challenging for the playoffs later on - they need to start stringing together some wins now. And they need to be playing better than .500 ball (even though that would still be an improvement) to make any headway. They’re going to need to go 30-23 for the rest of this season just to wind up 41-41 and avoid another losing season. The way things in the WC are going now, that might actually be enough to sneak into the playoffs this year... but I doubt it.

The Suns need to make some sort of run at getting back into playoff contention soon. That should be possible if they can ever get just Ricky Rubio, Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker all healthy and all playing together for a change. Those three have played together in just one game this season. No matter what you think of Ayton, Monty started out this season with the idea of Deandre being the man in the middle. Aron Baynes stepped in and did an admirable job early on but Deandre was supposed to be an integral part of the Suns starting unit and neither Baynes nor Frank Kaminsky can replace what Ayton has to offer.

They need to make that run and do it soon. Missing the playoffs wouldn’t be a total disaster although finishing the season with only 20-something wins would be worth labeling it as such to me.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - If the Suns suddenly get (and stay) healthy, do you believe that they still have a shot at the playoffs?

GuarGuar: If we are healthy for the rest of the season I do believe we still have a decent shot at the playoffs. We are not that far back from the 8 seed at all. OKC can still end up being sellers at the deadline. We have a really soft schedule in January. That will be the deciding month in my opinion. We need to be healthy and make a big run in January. I believe we can do it if all of our main rotation is healthy. We need to stop the bleeding soon though before the hole becomes too big to overcome.

Sun-Arc: Sure, they have a shot to make the playoffs. I’m not sure how good of one, based on how they’ve played over the past 20 games. They started off 5-2 but have been 5-14 since. We are now 11th in the west and 2nd to last in the division, as I write this on Friday morning. Things are not looking promising at the moment. But if they get healthy and start believing in defense again, they can reach the post season. But time, and patience, are running thin to make that move.

At this point it seems like the last two spots in the west playoff picture are open to about 5 teams; OKC, SAC, POR, SAS, and the Suns (6 teams if you include Minny, which I don’t).

OKC - like they’ll have injuries to Paul and or Galinari, or a big trade will diminish their forces and they’ll drop out of the race.

SAC – I’m still skeptical they’ll be in the race by the end.

POR- I’m pretty confident they’ll be one of the final two spots.

SAS- I’m pretty confident they’ll be the other one in the final two spots.

That makes it pretty difficult for the Suns. And made more difficult by losing to those teams along the way. Hope they won against OKC on Friday.

SDKyle: Yes, if the Suns get and stay healthy they still have a shot at the playoffs. They’re only a couple games out of playoff position as of this writing, so to write off a playoff slot as out of the question seems odd.

That is a fairly big “if” though. Odds are good that there will continue to be games missed by at least one of Booker, Ayton, and Rubio, in addition to some of the supporting cast.

Basically this all boils down to “can the Suns out-play three of these four teams the rest of the way: OKC, Portland, San Antonio, and Sacramento?”

I’m not sure. We’ll see.

SouthernSun: No. Even fully healthy I no longer think the Suns have a shot at the playoffs, barring a trade. They just don’t have enough creation, athleticism, or defense. They need a legitimate 6th man pretty badly. They could also do with a better starting PF, but a guard to help out Book and Rubio is definitely a need. Their defense just isn’t getting it done anymore. Apparently the league has figured out their scheme, and have been exploiting that and their lack of rim protection pretty heavily. The Suns are within striking distance for the playoffs. They probably can’t make it unless they make a trade for one more upgrade, so they should get that done as soon as humanly possible.

Alex S: It’s gonna be very difficult with how awful this stretch of losing has gotten. I really want to say yes, and they certainly are in the mix but how realistic is it for this team to turn it around? Having no continuity this season is starting to destroy all the positives this franchise enjoyed 10 games into the year.

Q2 - If the Suns are out of the playoff race before the trade deadline, do you think they could be ‘sellers’ on the trade market?

GuarGuar: Well if we are that far out of the playoff race come the deadline, something really wrong (most likely injuries) probably happened. I don’t think we would be buyers but I also don’t think we have much to sell. I guess people would be very interested in Baynes and Saric considering they are expiring, but those are two guys I can see us hanging onto regardless our February record. I don’t think teams will be knocking for Frank or Tyler Johnson either so we might have this roster to ride out the year.

Sun-Arc: The Suns should be buyers of assets to improve long-term, at all times, until they are contenders- no matter what. I don’t know if they will trade Saric and Baynes to contenders in exchange for a first round pick, but I could see the potential for that to happen. If the right value isn’t there for those moves, though, they’ll probably just stand pat.

On the other hand, it depends on how well or not well they are playing if we are out of the playoff chase. If Saric is great but Baynes falls off a cliff, for instance, maybe we keep Saric as our RFA and trade Baynes. I don’t think Oubre or the core four would be traded. I don’t read James Jones as the type that will throw in the towel for the season. Yet he might get creative towards a summer trade by picking up picks. Hard to say.

SDKyle: In the event that the Suns throw in the towel on the playoffs by the first week of February, they should absolutely make an effort to rid themselves of some of the “talent” that contributed to that. It’s a bit early for me to have specific ideas, but I don’t like the idea of standing pat when what you’ve got isn’t working.

Ask me again in 5 weeks and I’m bound to have a wish list.

SouthernSun: Please no. Who in the world would they sell? Aron Baynes? And get what for him, a 2nd rounder? No. Make a trade for someone that helps you win, and push for the playoffs. If this team is a seller at the trade deadline and tanks after teasing the fans with wins and competent basketball for the first month of the season, I don’t know if I can take it. You don’t do everything you did last summer re-making the roster and signing a 28 year old PG and trading for a 32 year old center and not re-signing a young promising center (Holmes) in favor of a consistent veteran, and then actually win some games to start the season and be in the playoff seeding for 2 months, only to then tank and trade off anyone not locked in on a longterm deal for table scrap assets at the deadline. That would represent a bit of a “well, we tried, back to the drawing board”, and I know I myself wouldn’t take too kindly to that, though I can’t speak for other fans.

Alex S: I still don’t think the Suns will be sellers. Even with all the struggles lately this has been a very successful season and the franchise needs to continue to try to improve in the immediate future. The Suns have held on to their draft capital so there’s no reason to sell off important pieces just to grab additional draft capital. The goal should still be to acquire an upgrade at PF that is preferably under contract past this upcoming summer.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex S - for all their extra effort every week!


Key Stats

121.0 DefRtg

Last week the Suns had the worst defensive rating, the 20th offensive rating (107.8) and the 2nd worst net rating (minus-13.2) in the NBA.

Random Stats: Kelly Oubre Jr., Dario Saric, Frank Kaminsky and Mikal Bridges are the only Suns that have played in every game this season. The Suns have already had 8 different starting lineups and only Oubre and Saric have started in all 29 games.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.


Game Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers - Full Game Highlights | December 16, 2019

Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers - Full Game Highlights | December 17, 2019

Phoenix Suns vs Oklahoma City Thunder - Full Game Highlights | December 20, 2019

Phoenix Suns vs Houston Rockets - Full Game Highlights | December 21, 2019


Quote of the Week

”When I talk to our team, you know, the youngest team in the league, I’m like, we can’t wait until we make the playoffs to develop championship habits. It don’t work like that. This crap has to be done now.” - Monty Williams


Rookie Report

Cameron Johnson - 21.0 mpg, 9.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.7 TO, 1.6 PF, 40.5 3PT%

  • This week - 23.2 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.3 TO, 1.0 PF, 38.9 3PT%

Ty Jerome - 14.3 mpg, 4.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.9 TO, 1.3 PF, 31.6 3PT%

  • This week - 17.3 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.7 TO, 0.7 PF, 30.0 3PT%

Jalen Lecque - Assigned to NAZ Suns

Jared Harper - Assigned to NAZ Suns

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Injury Status Report

Ricky Rubio (illness) - Day-to-day.

Deandre Ayton (ankle) - Expected to be out until at least Dec 27.


Bright Side Night Returns!

We are proud to announce the FIFTH annual BRIGHT SIDE NIGHT, where our community sent 3,000+ deserving and underprivileged children from the Valley to a Phoenix Suns game last year!

It’s only $9 of your hard earned money for each ticket you donate.

Last year, we sent a record 3,300 kids to a game. Over four years, we’ve sent more 7,400! All from you guys. From us.

This time it’s our January 7 home game against Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings. The kids get to see Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker and the crew raining threes supplemented by the return of Deandre Ayton!

And your help can earn you some neet stuff too depending upon the size of your donation! You can read more about that HERE or you can just click on the link below and donate right away.

Suns.com/Brightside


News & Notes

Booker Moves Into 13th on Suns All-Time Scoring List vs Rockets. Suns.com

Bill Simmons: ‘I would be shopping’ Suns C Deandre Ayton. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports

Leading Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker and the youngest team in the NBA. Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated

One way or the other, adversity will reveal who the Phoenix Suns are. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back


This Week in Suns History

On December 25, 1968, the Suns made their national television debut on Christmas day, 1968, as an ABC audience and a season-high Coliseum crowd of 10,355 witnessed the Los Angeles Lakers post a 119-99 victory.


Suns Trivia

The Suns have played a total of 18 games on Christmas day with a 12-6 record. All but one of them were played in Phoenix. Their last Christmas Day game was it 2009 against the LA Clippers which they won 124-93.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, December 23 - Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets, 7:00 pm AZT

Wednesday, December 25 - Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 27 - Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors, 8:30 pm AZT

Saturday, December 28 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings, 7:00 pm AZT

The Suns have three games this week, one tonight at home and then a back-to-back on the road after a three-day Christmas vacation.

Tonight’s game is against a now familiar Denver Nuggets squad that has already bested them twice. Denver is 3rd in the WC standings with a 19-8 record and I see no reason why tonight’s result should be any different than before, especially the way the Suns have been playing lately.

I have much more hope for Friday night’s game on the road against Golden State. Even though the Warriors are tied with the Hawks for the worst record in the NBA (6-24), I wouldn’t call this one a lock. The Suns should win it but I’ve seen them have lapses at some of the worst times this season and give away a few games they should have won. I’m calling it a win though and just hoping the Suns stay focused.

On Saturday, the Suns head to Sacramento for their third game of the season against the Kings. They’re 1-1 against them so far and although the Kings still aren’t playing great, they’ve been playing better than the Suns lately. If the Suns can make it to this game relatively healthy, I think they can come away with another win.

I’m predicting that the Suns go 2-1 this week. They really need to add a couple of wins this week and get back on track before they start a 2-week stretch of schedule near the end of next week against mostly weaker teams. If they can get their grove back before then, they could start moving back up in the standings.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

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 “Deandre Ayton’s return will...”

68% - Improve the Suns a LOT.

30% - Improve the Suns some but not a great deal.

02% - Not really make much of a difference.

There were 213 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

The Suns’ playoff hopes are...

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Still alive and kicking!
    (21 votes)
  • 51%
    On life support.
    (91 votes)
  • 36%
    Slowly swirling down the drain.
    (64 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now