Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
The Suns’ losing streak now stands at 17 which is not only a new franchise record, it is tied with 9 others for the 26th longest losing streak in NBA history. If it extends to 18 loses, the streak will jump into a 6 team tie for the 21st longest losing streak. If it extends to 19, it’s in a 9 way tie for the 13th longest. 20 get them into the top (bottom?) 10 in a 5 way tie for the 9th longest.
The worst losing streak in NBA history is 28 games. Surely the Suns will win another game before challenging that streak ... right?
At this point, I honestly wouldn’t bet on it.
The Suns have 21 games left in this season and let two of their best opportunities to break the streak slip away last week. This week they face tougher opponents in Miami, New Orleans and the LA Lakers so that streak could be up to 20 before next week’s edition of Center of the Sun is published. Then comes Milwaukee and I don’t expect a repeat of the game that the Suns stole from them back in November. The next realistically ‘winnable’ game in the Suns’ schedule doesn’t come until March 6 when they play the Knicks in Phoenix and by then they could be riding a 21 game losing streak. That would put them in a two-way tie for the 8th longest losing streak in NBA history.
I don’t even want to think about them possibly losing that game and moving even father up (down?) that list.
Another list of ‘worsts’ in which the Suns continue to climb (fall?) is the NBA’s worst ever season records. They’re still barely on pace to end this season with a 15-67 record which would not only be the worst in franchise history, but be tied for one of the 20 worst seasons in NBA history... and that’s just if they make it to 15 wins this season.
Table courtesy of Land Of Basketball.com
As you can see in the table above, the only ‘good’ thing is that the Suns can’t possibly wind up with the worst ever NBA season record ... this year. Moving to the top of the worst ever losing streaks list is, unfortunately, still a possibility and a 15-67 record would end up with the Suns in a 14-way tie for the 18th worst record in history. The Suns’ expansion season record of 16-66 is only tied for 32nd. Bad but at least understandable for an expansion team. For the Suns to have a worse season in their 51st year is just inexcusable.
This team is not just bad, it’s historically bad. It’s very possible that a new expansion team could have done better this season ... which almost makes me wish that Robert Sarver had been serious when he hinted that he might move the team to Seattle or Las Vegas back in December. I’m certain that Phoenix would have been moved to the top of the list for a future expansion team and the slate would be wiped clean and the city could start over with a completely new team ... and a new owner.
I’m not quite there yet but the idea of just wiping the slate completely clean and starting over again does have a certain appeal.
Fantable Questions of the Week
1. Congratulations! You just won the biggest lottery jackpot in history and Robert Sarver has agreed to sell the Suns to you! Assume you can hire anyone for your new GM and head coach, even persons already employed by other teams. Who would you choose to fill those positions for your Suns?
GuarGuar: GM - Sean Marks. What he’s done with the Nets in such a short period of time has been remarkable. They’ve gone from the ultimate bottom feeder to a playoff team in a couple years. And they haven’t had their own first round pick in years. Imagine what he could do with the Suns’ “assets”.
Coach - Gregg Popovich. Pop wouldn’t stand for the Suns lack of defense and would keep players in check. This team needs that and they need a leader at coach. And that’s exactly what Pop is. We suck at the fundamentals of basketball and he for sure would clean that up.
Sun-Arc: RC Buford for GM and Brad Stevens for coach. Buford has done wonders over the years keeping the Spurs a hot team as their stars faded. They always seem to draft well (though not sure about the Lonnie selection) and even their G-league guys play well. Player development is a big factor here for me, and Buford seems to do a great job of knowing what the team needs and getting it.
I think the choice of Stevens for coach speaks for itself. The Celtics are having a bit of a down year, but he seems to work really well with young players, produces great player development, and gets the most out of everyone. Hell, look at Marcus Morris. And he understands the need for balancing offense with defense.
SDKyle: I’d hire Bob Myers from Golden State and Brad Stevens from Boston. This is a ridiculous dream scenario, but the pairing would give the Suns dynamic young leadership with a proven track record of success. Stevens has done nothing but win a lot of games in his young career, and Myers has shown some of the best roster creation and draft evaluation chops possibly ever. If any duo could put a decent roster together and get some quality out of them, these guys could.
SouthernSun: Oh boy. I’m gonna go with Sam Presti as my GM, currently the General Manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and before that, the Supersonics, since 2007. He’s the guy that drafted Westbrook, Durant, and Harden. And sure, he had a hiccup when he decided to prioritize Ibaka over Harden, but at the time it wasn’t necessarily the dumbest thing one could do. Ibaka was instrumental in their defense and seemed to only be improving, and they already had Westbrook and Durant who needed the ball, so my bet is that Harden quietly voiced his displeasure to the front office. And since it’s not a circus over there, they simply traded him and kept Ibaka, who didn’t need touches. Sure, Durant left after they lost to Golden State his last year, but Durant has been universally reviled for doing so, and that’s not on Presti. What he did do, though, is orchestrate a deal to bring in Paul George as a heck of a replacement, then convince him to stay in freaking Oklahoma City instead of going to LA like everyone thought he would. And now they’re a top 3 team in the West again. I was thinking Ainge initially, but then I thought about that whole thing where he seems to be getting a bit of a bad reputation with players now. So yeah, Sam Presti.
For coach, I’m going to go with Mike Budenholzer. Honestly though, it’s kind of a toss up between him and Brad Stevens. Pop would be in the conversation but I assume he’s going to retire really really soon.
Alex Sylvester: I’d just steal the entire front office and coaching staff from Golden State given their experience and Steve Kerr connections to Phoenix.
2. If the Suns win the NBA lottery and draft Zion Williamson, who are the top 3 players (who you think would realistically be available) that you would want the the Suns to attempt to trade for or sign in free agency this summer?
GuarGuar: If we got Zion I go all in trading for Jrue Holiday or signing Kemba Walker this offseason. We need a really good point guard to fix this team. Someone who can score but also get Zion, Booker, and Ayton the ball. Jrue would be my #1 because he’s a better playmaker and is an elite perimeter defender. Putting Jrue next to Book is a perfect fit.
- Jrue Holiday
- Kemba Walker
- Ricky Rubio
Sun-Arc: Kemba is still my No. 1 target, which, since he is a UFA, will have to be by offering a ton of dough. D’Angelo Russell is another target for me, especially with his relationship with Booker. Rozier would be the next option. At PF, I have also stated a desire for Mirotic here, but how well that meshes with Zion I’m not sure. Still, having a steady vet PF that can shoot the rock would be really helpful in the rotation. Probably could not get him after all the money we just gave to Kemba or Russell.
SDKyle: If I assume we keep Zion and he’s our answer at PF, I’ll go back to my classic answer. Kemba Walker. Many people don’t think he’s leaving Charlotte, but at least he’s within the realm of possibility. I don’t think the Suns should break the bank on Rozier and we’re not going to be players when it comes to Durant, Leonard, or even Irving.
SouthernSun: If the Suns win the lotto and draft Zion, I would want them to first go out and swing a trade for Jrue Holiday. They no longer have the 2019 1st in their pocket, but they do have the Bucks 1st, and they can add in their own 2020 1st, along with Josh Jackson and Tyler Johnson.
Then, I would go after Al-Farouq Aminu and either T.J. McConnell or Seth Curry in free agency. And honestly, whichever of those two you can’t fit under the cap, you can use the MLE on. Or part of it. And then maybe the other part on a guy like Ed Davis.
Which would have the Suns looking like this:
- Jrue Holiday/TJ McConnell/De’Anthony Melton
- Devin Booker/Mikal Bridges/Seth Curry
- Kelly Oubre Jr./T.J. Warren
- Zion Williamson/Al-Farouq Aminu/Ed Davis
- Deandre Ayton/Richaun Holmes
Look at that team filled with actual NBA players. Wouldn’t that be nice? Seeing a team full of guys who actually belong in the NBA?
Alex Sylvester: I’d go all in on acquiring the star point guard and utilizing the rest of the assets to do so. I think my favorite potential target would be Damian Lillard but that would take a tremendous package. I’d almost be willing to part with Ayton to make that happen. Another obvious choice would be D’Angelo Russell from the Nets but the RFA status makes it difficult. The last guy to target, I’ll say Kemba for fun.
3. If the Suns DON’T win the NBA lottery and draft out of the top 3, how would that change your answer to question #2?
GuarGuar: If we don’t get the #1 pick in the draft, then I want to trade our pick. This draft class does not look very good, and quite frankly I’m tired of making this team younger. Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, etc aren’t going to fix our problems next year. They all are going to take a lot of time to make a positive impact in the NBA. Zion or trade the pick for a point guard. That’s my view. And if we don’t get Zion that means we need to sign or trade for an actual power forward too.
Sun-Arc: Doesn’t change much for me. I’d still go after Kemba, Rozier, and now without Zion more comfortably going after Mirotic, and/or Randle if he opts out of his player option this summer. Delon Wright would be a deeper fall back option on PG for me. I still think he’s got a lot of skills we could use.
SDKyle: I’m not sure it does change my answer if the pick is outside the top 3. PG remains our biggest need, as it has been for literal years now. I’d support trying to augment Walker with a trade for a legit PF in either case, but without leveraging the pick I don’t see us getting anything meaningful without giving up Booker or Ayton, neither of which I’m quite ready to do.
SouthernSun: Honestly what I’d do wouldn’t change much. I’d trade the 2019 1st for Jrue. Then I’d make the same moves, but with Aminu as my starter at PF and Ed Davis (or maybe Taj Gibson) as backup. I’d be perfectly happy with that. Thad Young would be a target for the starting PF spot, but I bet he stays with the Pacers.
Alex Sylvester: That would change my answer entirely because we more than likely you would take Morant and have to find a starting power forward. With either guy though, you need to acquire a veteran or someone at least over the age of 24 to fill that starting spot.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, SDKyle, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!
24 personal fouls per game
That is the Suns’ season average and it’s the worst in the NBA. For the month of November, it was 22.9 and only 21st in the NBA. For February it was 24.6 and has risen instead of fallen as the season progressed. This has increased the free throw attempts per game by the Suns’ opponents to 27.6 per game (dead last in the NBA). The Suns are 24th in FTAs themselves (21.5) this season and one of the NBA’s worst free throw shooting teams (25th, 74.1%).
Weekly Book Report
Season - 34.8 mpg, 24.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.2 bpg, 4.0 TO, 3.3 PF
45.8% FG, 32.5% 3PT, 85.0% FT
This week - 37.0 mpg, 28.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 5.5 TO, 3.5 PF
41.9% FG, 33.3% 3PT, 88.2% FT
Random Stats: In wins this season, the Suns are averaging 11.5 three-point makes per game on 41.4 percent shooting (against 9.2 per game on 30.9 percent in losses). The Suns are 3-1 when making at least 14 three-pointers.
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Phoenix Suns - Full Game Highlights | Feb 21, 2018-19
Phoenix Suns vs Atlanta Hawks - Full Game Highlights | February 23, 2019
Quotes of the Week
”We’ve just got to find our identity and build a culture here in Phoenix. We can do it. We have the talent. It’s nothing about talent. It’s just about going out there and having the will to win.” - Kelly Oubre Jr.
”It’s right there (talent), if not better (than other young teams). It’s just that, putting it all together takes more of the mental side of basketball than it does just the physical side. So mentally, I think that’s where we’ve got to grow as a team.” - Tyler Johnson
Deandre Ayton - 31.0 mpg, 16.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.8 TO, 2.8 PF
- This week - 34.1 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.0 TO, 1.5 PF
Mikal Bridges - 27.9 mpg, 8.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.8 TO, 2.4 PF, 34.9% 3PT
- This week - 29.1 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.5 TO, 1.5 PF, 27.3% 3PT
De’Anthony Melton - 20.3 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.6 TO, 2.6 PF, 30.8% 3PT
- This week - 13.6 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 2.0 PF, 0.0% 3PT
Elie Okobo - 18.5 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.3 TO, 2.2 PF, 27.4% 3PT
- This week - 3.3 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 1.0 PF, 0.0% 3PT
George King - 5.9 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF
- This week - DNP (assigned to NAZ Suns)
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.
News & Notes
Suns botch opportunity in loss to Hawks; Booker reiterates team too ‘comfortable with losing’. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
Phoenix Suns’ Tyler Johnson explains why he told his new team they ‘give up’. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
Deandre Ayton discusses the reason Suns have struggled so much this season. Clutch Points
Rare company: Suns could have NBA’s worst record in back-to-back years. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports
This Week in Suns History
On February 26, 1988, the Suns made a blockbuster trade. The Suns sent All-Star forward Larry Nance and Mike Sanders, another forward, to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return, the Cavaliers gave up Mark West, their backup center; Tyrone Corbin, a shooting guard, and rookie point guard Kevin Johnson, their top draft choice in June. Phoenix also sent the Cavaliers the 1988 first-round pick they acquired from Detroit (for William Bedford) and received the Cavaliers’ first-round choice in 1988 and their second-round choices in 1988 and 1989.
In separate deals, the also Suns sent James Edwards, their 7-foot center, to the Pistons for Ron Moore and Detroit’s second round pick in 1991 and then traded Jay Humphries to the Milwaukee Bucks for Craig Hodges and their 1988 second-round draft pick.
Deandre Ayton is the first rookie and just 10th different player overall in NBA history to record a season averaging 15+ points and 10+ rebounds while shooting at least 55 percent from the field and at least 75 percent from the free throw line. The last player to accomplish this was Brad Daugherty in the 1992-93 season.
Previewing the Week Ahead
Monday, February 25 - Phoenix Suns @ Miami Heat, 5:30 pm AZT
Friday, March 1 - Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans, 7:00 pm AZT
Saturday, March 2 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Lakers, 7:00 pm AZT
The Suns have three games this week, the first on the road followed by three days off before a back-to-back set at home.
First up, the Suns end their current road trip in Miami tonight. The Heat have been in a bit of a slump lately, winning only 2 of their last 10 games... but that’s still two more wins than the Suns have in their last ten. If the Suns are going to break their losing streak this week, odds are that this game is their best chance. I’m not counting on it though and believe that this will be another loss for the Suns.
The Suns’ second game of the week follows a rare three days off. The Pelicans have pretty much fallen out of the playoff race but are still too strong for the Suns. Count this as another loss for Phoenix on Friday.
On Saturday, the Suns will get their fourth and final shot at the Lakers this season. They lost all three of their previous meetings by an average of almost 19 points per game. Don’t expect this game to be much different as the Suns lose the game and get swept in their season series against the Lakers this year.
Expect the Suns’ losing streak to continue with another 3 losses this week.
What’s your prediction?
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “The Suns’ weaker strength of schedule for the rest of the season should result in...”
37.5% - More wins.
25.0% - Fewer blowouts but not more wins.
37.5% - Nothing significant.
There were 246 votes cast.
This week’s poll is...
Which of the Fantable’s fantasy choices for the Suns’ new head coach would you chose?
This poll is closed