Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Just last week it was looking as though the Suns might just finish their season on a high note... but then the injury bug bit again. Loosing anyone on a team this thin on talent hurts but losing Kelly Oubre Jr. for the rest of the season and then Josh Jackson for at least a few games sure put a crimp on what little enthusiasm fans had left.
Your guess is as good as mine whether Tyler Johnson or T.J. Warren will make it back onto the court before the season ends. And before anyone can ask, no, I don’t think that anyone is being held out to deliberately ‘tank’. If the Suns were fighting for a playoff spot, maybe some of the injured players might try to play though their injuries but that isn’t the case and there’s really just no point in playing them if they’re not back to 100%.
We have just eight games to go and I still want to see the Suns reach at least 20 wins. Even with this depleted roster, winning 3 of 8 shouldn’t be too much to ask considering only three of the Suns’ remaining games are against teams with winning records and five of them will be home games.
However the season ends, it will be over for the Suns in just 15 days. Yes, just 2 weeks and a day left.
Then we get to watch other teams play in the playoffs - again - while we anxiously await the Lottery results - again - in May and pin our hopes - again - on next year.
Fantable Questions of the Week
1. What’s your opinion of the Suns’ signing of Jimmer Fredette?
GuarGuar: I’m pretty neutral on the Jimmer signing. I think it’s a publicity stunt more than anything. He doesn’t really offer anything that we need other than three-point shooting. He’s basically another Troy Daniels, and Igor has struggled to even get Troy involved this season. I hope the best for Jimmer, but it’s very likely he’s only going to play the last few games of this season and then be back to China.
Sun-Arc: Meh. We need shooting and he can probably shoot. But we don’t play Daniels all that much anyway and he shoots well. Maybe Jimmer would be a cheaper replacement for 10th man Troy? I feel like it’s a low-risk move that reminds me of the “tryout” portion we’ve seen of the past two seasons. Last season it was Harrison and House. Now its Spalding and Fredette. Someone wake me when we are good again……zzzzzzzzzzzzz
SDKyle: I’ll be consistent in what I’ve said about every end-of-the-bench signing the last few seasons...it’s fine. Jimmer Fredette is an undersized over-30 combo guard who is good at one thing: being slightly more efficient than one would expect given the often absurd shots he takes. I’m not expecting him to contribute very positively on the court, but he’s not going to be worse than anyone else we could’ve signed and if he can knock down a few 30-footers at least he’ll provide some entertainment and revive the #Jimmerrange phenomenon.
SouthernSun: The Suns signing of Jimmer means next to nothing to me. Maybe he’s a slightly better option at backup guard than Jamal Crawford and Elie Okobo? The fans know his name, and he’s performed well overseas recently, so maybe they really think he can be a rotation piece moving forward, but my assumption is that it’s just happening for the sake of putting a few butts in a few seats.
Alex Sylvester: I think it’s fun! 10 games left in the year to see if Jimmer can be an end of the bench/maaaaaybe rotational guy next year. Daniels is good as gone so if you can keep a guy like Jimmer as a microwave sniper, why not?
We shouldn’t expect Fredette to set the league on fire but what if he’s refined his game while in China? Fun for the fans and you might get something worthwhile.
2. Kelly Oubre Jr. is out for the season, T.J. Warren may be out for the season and Josh Jackson could be out for a while with his ankle sprain. The small forward surplus has now turned into a deficiency. How do the Suns adapt with only one healthy SF (Mikal Bridges)?
GuarGuar: It really hurts because we only have one forward on the roster. Even if we wanted to call up George King, we can’t because he is hurt too. The Ray Spalding signing hurts us too because I believe we can’t sign a 10-day because he’s guaranteed rest of season. Hopefully TJ can come back soon, but that seems doubtful given the way his ankle situation has gone. I thought Mikal would see big minutes against Sacramento, but that was not the case. Surprisingly Bender got the most run for “forwards”. I would play Mikal 38 minutes a night and see what he can do to close out the season.
Sun-Arc: See, this is why you can’t have enough versatile wings on the team.. (kidding)
Again I say: Meh. Since we obviously are not going to be able to finish off the season strong because of injuries (Johnson too), I don’t really care too much how they adapt. There are enough combo guards to have an entire line up of them on the court, so I guess that is one way to do it. Just have Melton, Crawford, Fredette, Booker, and Ayton out there, I guess?
I will say I really don’t like starting Booker as the PG. Melton is not ready for prime time, but he helps the system out better than asking Booker to do it all.
SDKyle: They can’t really, so screw it. Positionless basketball, folks! You wanted it, you got it. Slow, 6’2 Jimmer Fredette guarding the other team’s SF... why not? Booker matched up on a 6’9 245 lb bruiser. Cool!
In all seriousness though...the season’s almost over. We’re into the non-stop draft talk time of year. The team needs to just make do as best it can and run out this awful season.
SouthernSun: Well, some of the fan base wanted to tank, and I imagine some portion of the front office wants to as well, so I doubt they’re very concerned with the SF situation right now. They may even be happy about it. I myself have a sneaking suspicion that TJ Warren’s ankle hasn’t necessarily needed this much time to heal.
Alex Sylvester: Book can get some experience playing the 3 as long as you stagger the minutes between him and Bridges.
You’ll more than likely need to have two smaller guards on the court at all times. It’s pretty clear with having four injured small forwards (including George King) that the Suns will need to play unconventionally down the stretch!
3. Kevin McHale and Jim Paxson are the only names mentioned so far in the “early stages” GM search. Would you consider either an upgrade over Jones and Bukstein? And, even if you don’t like either of them, is it at least reassuring that the Suns are looking at people with experience?
GuarGuar: I would not consider McHale or Paxson as upgrades over what we currently have. I would rather go with the unknown in James Jones than sign either one of those guys. Both of them have terrible GM history. McHale is outdated in his philosophy and Paxson has become a nightmare for Bulls fans. To answer the second part of the question, yes I do like how we are interested in guys with experience. That should be the direction we go. We’ve hired way to many first timers in this organization the past decade.
Sun-Arc: First off; I am not reassured by the news the team is speaking to potential outside people about the GM position because I have no faith in Sarver to make a good decision on any hire. He’s the reason we have cold nachos. But let’s look at the contenders…
McHale did not have a great record at being a GM, though he did have some success at coaching to a degree. And whether or not we like him as GM, he’s a big name that will probably require pay beyond the lowest level of the league- plus- I would imagine he’d ask for some level of control. So we know that ain’t happening with Sarver.
Paxson does not have a good track record as GM. In six seasons in Cleveland the team lost 307 out of 492 games. And he was fired in 2005. By Cleveland. During the team’s upswing after drafting Lebron. That seems to speak volumes. I’m sure he’d come cheap and say whatever it takes for Sarver to hire him. Looks like we just found our new GM, folks.
Regardless of whether or not this search is for real or just a PR stunt to make it look like they are actually doing due diligence, these two are not exactly a great place to start. I don’t know that they are any better than James Jones. Just go get David Griffin and let him do his job, Sarver. That’s as good as we can get. Which is why I’m not counting on it.
SDKyle: It’s too soon to know if James Jones is bad enough to need to be replaced by McHale or Paxson, who was a failure as a Cavs executive and doesn’t have much to hang his hat on as a “consultant” in Chicago. But yes, it’s encouraging that we’re at least looking at experience and not just telling some 36 year old new retiree he can take the job if he wants. I’m hoping Sarver realizes that whatever he does needs to nail it or this whole rebuild probably fails. Here’s hoping.
SouthernSun: I’m not sure that either of those guys are an upgrade over Jones and Bukstein, but at least they have some modicum of experience. That’s a good thing I suppose. And yes, those two names definitely make me feel a little better about the types of guys the Suns will be going after in this search. I just hope the one they eventually get is higher caliber.
Alex Sylvester: No, not really. I think David Griffin is the obvious name the Suns should be coveting but I’m glad to at least hear that the Suns are trying to make moves. I thought Paxson was John Paxson for a minute so I’m glad to know it’s not him at least!
As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, SDKyle, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!
26 different starting lineups
The Suns have had 26 different starting lineups this season. Only one lineup (Melton, Booker, Bridges, Warren and Ayton) has started more than 10 games together (15) and they were 4-11 in those games (.267). The Suns’ most successful starting lineup (Johnson, Booker, Oubre, Bender and Ayton) only played 7 games together but was 4-3 (.571). Nineteen different lineups started together in only one or two games this season and the Suns won only 3 of those 29 games (.103).
Weekly Book Report
Season - 35.2 mpg, 25.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.2 bpg, 4.1 TO, 3.1 PF
45.4% FG, 32.0% 3PT, 85.9% FT
This week - 37.3 mpg, 27.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.0 bpg, 3.7 TO, 2.3 PF
39.7% FG, 20.8% 3PT, 80.0% FT
Random Stats: For the season the Suns are shooting a league worst 32.6% from three. Last week they shot only 26.7% from three.
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.
Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | March 18, 2018-19
Phoenix Suns vs Detroit Pistons Full Game Highlights | March 21, 2018-19
Sacramento Kings vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | March 23, 2018-19
Quote of the Week
”We haven’t talked about him (Zion Williamson) being with the Suns next season. But if it happens, we would welcome him with open arms. He’d fit right in.” - Josh Jackson
Deandre Ayton - 30.8 mpg, 16.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.7 TO, 2.8 PF
- This week - 29.9 mpg, 21.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.7 bpg, 2.0 TO, 4.0 PF
Mikal Bridges - 28.7 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.9 TO, 2.5 PF, 33.8% 3PT
- This week - 38.3 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.7 TO, 2.7 PF, 26.7% 3PT
De’Anthony Melton - 19.4 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.4 TO, 2.3 PF, 31.5% 3PT
- This week - 21.6 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.7 TO, 2.0 PF, 40.0% 3PT
Elie Okobo - 17.8 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.3 TO, 2.1 PF, 27.3% 3PT
- This week - 19.5 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.0 TO, 1.0 PF, 25.0% 3PT (2 DNP-CDs)
Ray Spalding - 8.4 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.6 bpg, 0.6 TO, 1.8 PF
- This week - 7.8 mpg, 1.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.3 TO, 1.3 PF
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’ Devin Booker’s aggression translates to 2nd-most free-throw attempts in March. Clutch Points
Ja Morant Suns: Phoenix Among 3 Best Fits for Murray State Star. Heavy.com Sports
Tyler Johnson: Adjusting to Phoenix Off the Court. Suns.com
Josh Jackson Diary: March Madness, Zion and fun on the Suns. The Undefeated
With core 3 clear, Suns can’t delay major roster decisions any longer. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports
Rookie Midterms: Deandre Ayton and the Perils of Being the No. 1 Pick. (VIDEO) The Ringer
Phoenix Suns rookie Deandre Ayton’s first career ejection met with amazement. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
This Week in Suns History
On March 29, 1970, the Suns got their first-ever playoff victory when they upset the Lakers 114-101 in Los Angeles.
Although it’s been a terrible season for the Suns, they still have the longest streak of games with at least one three-pointer made in the NBA. The streak began on March 19, 2004 and the Suns have hit at least one three-point shot in 1,214 consecutive games since then.
Previewing the Week Ahead
Monday, March 25 - Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz, 6:00 pm AZT
Wednesday, March 27 - Phoenix Suns vs Washington Wizards, 7:00 pm AZT
Saturday, March 30 - Phoenix Suns vs Memphis Grizzlies, 7:00 pm AZT
The Suns will again have three games this week, one versus a playoff bound team (Utah), one against a team still holding on to weak playoff hopes (Washington) and one against another lottery bound team (Memphis).
With the depleted roster that the Suns are likely to take into the Jazz game, it’s very unlikely that the Suns will be able to hang with Utah... especially on their home court. Chalk this one up as another loss for Phoenix.
The Wednesday night game against the Wizards might be a different story though. Washington is on a four-game losing streak with only three wins in their last ten games. Although their still mathematically in the Eastern Conference playoff race, they’re 6.5 games behind the 8th seed Heat with just eight games remaining. The Suns lost to them once back in December in a lengthy triple-overtime game (149-146). If the Suns can make it to Wednesday without losing any more players to injury, I think they have a good chance to repay the favor in Phoenix... hopefully in regulation instead of 3 OTs though.
Finally, the Memphis Grizzlies come to town for their third and final meeting with the Suns. They’ve split the season series so far with each team winning on their home court. Those games took place back in October and November though and both teams have undergone changes since then. I think this will be a close game but the Suns will pull out a win.
I predict that the Suns will go 2-1 this week.
What’s your prediction?
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “How many of their final 11 games do you think the Suns will win?”
15% - 3 or less.
59% - 4-5.
22% - 6-7.
04% - 8 or more.
There were 211 votes cast.
This week’s poll is...
In this year’s draft...
This poll is closed
The Suns get Zion Williamson or they should trade the pick.
The Suns get Zion Williamson or Ja Morant or they should trade the pick.
The Suns shouldn’t trade the pick even if it falls out of the top 3.