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Center of the Sun: Ricky Rubio’s FIBA World Cup performance leaves the Suns looking smart to sign him

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So much for the ESPN poll calling it one of the worst moves of the summer.

Argentina v Spain: Final - FIBA World Cup 2019 Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

The FIBA World Cup games are over. One of the newest Suns, Ricky Rubio, will soon be joining the team in the Valley with a Gold Medal, a member of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 All-Star 5 and tournament MVP honors. He’s also now the all-time leader in assists in the history of the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

He averaged 16.4 points, 6 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals and shot 38.7% from three (1.5/3.9) in 26.3 minutes per game.

After two seasons of playing without a starting caliber point guard, the Suns should benefit greatly from adding Rubio’s skills to their backcourt. Fans should also benefit greatly as they will likely be given a much more entertaining team to watch this season.

Aron Baynes, another of the newest Suns, will unfortunately be joining the team with only a groin strain. As Dave King mentioned yesterday, Baynes tried to play through it in the Bronze Medal game against France but it could be something that might keep Baynes sidelined through training camp as he tries to get fully healthy.

Baynes and his fellow Boomers are tough and talented bunch that distinguished themselves on the court though. I’m glad to have him on the Suns even if he comes to camp a little dinged up.

Several members of Team USA also suffered injuries of various types during the tournament. Jayson Tatum missed six of the eight games with and ankle injury, Marcus Smart missed three with leg injuries and Kemba Walker missed the final game against Poland with a neck injury. Walker may or may not be physically ready to go at the start of training camp. Tatum and Smart will likely be healthy by then.

Thankfully, none of their injuries were severe but at least two players, Baynes and Walker, may miss out on valuable on the court time in training a camp with their teams. Just like Devin Booker did last season after undergoing unexpected hand surgery shortly before training camp began.

Booker’s situation was certainly different as his injury happened in March during the regular season and the need for surgery wasn’t immediately apparent but it did cause him to be limited in his training camp participation and miss all of their preseason games. I’m sure this was on his mind when he made the decision to not participate in the FIBA World Cup games.

If Baynes misses some - or all - of training camp due to his injury, it will hurt the team early on but hopefully he’ll be back to 100% before the regular season begins. With so many new players joining the Suns, anyone expected to be a major rotation player will be missed even during camp.

With Baynes out, that leaves only Frank Kaminsky and/or Cheick Diallo to work against Deandre Ayton in practices. Neither would be much of a challenge for Ayton on either end of the court which wouldn’t do much to help him prepare for the upcoming season. Kaminsky would also be under the added pressure to learn new offensive and defensive schemes at center and power forward early on instead of concentrating on one position.

If Bayne’s injury looks to keep him sidelined at the beginning of camp, don’t be surprised if the Suns use one of their two remaining roster spots (teams can carry up to 20 players during the offseason) to sign another center to a “make good” training camp contract. The cupboard is pretty bare when looking over the selection of still available free agent centers but there are a few still out there that might make better practice opponents for Ayton than Kaminsky or Diallo.


Fantable Questions of the Week

We’re going to do the “best case/worst case” scenario game again this week. 4 players this time and I think this will cover everyone that will likely play the bulk of the rotation minutes early on.

For each of the players listed below, give your best and worst case estimates for their performances this season.

Q1 - Mikal Bridges.

GuarGuar: The best case for Mikal is he takes a big offensive leap this season. His 3pt% goes up, and he developed the ability to create his own shot. His defense still remains elite and he continues to make strides as a playmaker. He impresses so much he starts for us most of the season, sending Kelly Oubre to the 6th man role. We found our 3rd pillar.

The worst case for Mikal is he plays identical to last season. His defense will always be there, but if the jumper stays the same, we are in trouble. It’s really important Mikal approaches near 40% as a 3 point shooter for his offensive value. His worst case is the jumper stays the same and he hasn’t improved on anything, making him a bench rotation player with spotty minutes the entire season.

Sun-Arc: Mikal Bridges

Best case: 13 pt, 4 rb, 3 ast, 2.1 stl on 30 mpg, 38% 3pt on 5.5 attempts, 115 ORtg and 106 DRtg. Basically turns into a 23 year old version of Jimmy Butler with a better personality.

Worst case: 8 pt, 3.5 rb, 2.3 ast, 1.5 stl on 22 mpg, 34% 3pt on 3 attempts, 111 ORtg and 115 DRtg. Basically no improvement and less court time. I think this is unlikely, but about as likely as him turning into Jimmy Butler this season.

Mikal has a lot of promise, but he hasn’t bee AS good as some commentators at BSoTS think. He did pretty well for a rookie and he improved as the season progressed- so there is reason to hope. But I need to see more before I think he’s a proper glue guy.

SDKyle: Mikal Bridges

Best Case: 10 points, 3 rbds, 2 asts, shoots close to 40% from deep.

Worst case: 7 points, 2 rbds, 1 ast, shoots under 35% from deep.

In a best case for Bridges, he plays smothering defense and becomes a sniper, eventually supplanting Oubre as the starter. In a worst case, his development flatlines and he remains just an alright bench wing.

SouthernSun: Best case for Mikal is that he continues proving himself to be one of the best young defenders in the league. But he also shows a bit more playmaking (there were flashes last year), and improves his outside shooting. Best case is probably 12 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 1 bpg with 37% shooting from three.

Worst case is he’s still a good defender, but doesn’t get any better at it, and doesn’t improve in any of the other areas, remaining a mediocre shooter from deep, and overall not a very effective player offensively. Worst case scenario 8 ppg, 3 rpg, 1 apg, 1.5 spg with 31% shooting from three.

Alex Sylvester: Bridges

Best case - Bridges makes a massive leap with earning 2nd team defensive honors by leading the league in steals. His three point shooting raises to 38% and becomes one of the most promising young wings in the league. True 3/D player.

Worst case - Mikal fails to see the court for more than 15 MPG, his offensive skill set remains the same from his rookie year and his value to the Suns diminishes tremendously.

Q2 - Tyler Johnson.

GuarGuar: The best case for Tyler Johnson is he becomes a great backup point guard for us. He sees 20-22 minutes a night, facilitates really well, and delivers career best efficiency. He plays so well we sign him to a new contract this offseason.

The worst case for Tyler is he regresses and Ty Jerome takes the majority or all of his minutes. We don’t re-sign him and the Ryan Anderson trade at the end of the day looks like a complete wash.

Sun-Arc: Tyler Johnson

Best case: 13 pt, 4 rb, 3.5 ast, 1.2 stl on 26 mpg, 37% 3pt on 4 attempts, with a VORP of 2.0. He’s so good that we can rest Ricky a lot.

Worst Case: 6 pt, 2.5 rb, 1.3 ast, 1.0 stl on 18 mpg, 32% 3pt on 4 attempts, with a Vorp of zero. Basically regresses to his rookie year. I think this is highly unlikely. Yet he may not play much if Ricky turns out to be really valuable.

I think TJ will play quite a bit. Ricky will not have the legs to play huge minutes. And yet Booker will play some point too, which will also help Ricky rest. I like Johnson a lot in terms of attitude, and he shot historically bad for his career with the Suns, so I think he could be better than what we saw before. And he’ll be aiming for a new contract. Hopefully he’s closer to best case.

SDKyle: Tyler Johnson

Best case: 10 pts, 3 asts, 3 rbds, 56% TS

Worst case: 6 pts, 2 asts, 2 rbds, 52% TS

Tyler Johnson comes into this season as pretty much the third point guard behind Rubio and Booker, and I don’t really expect him to play a key playmaking role this year. In a best case I think he provides some moderate scoring punch as the all-purpose utility bench guard, and in a worst case he’s an afterthought just waiting to come off the payroll books.

SouthernSun: I don’t expect huge things from Tyler either way. Not a lot of variance with him. He’s going to try hard, he’s going to be serviceable offensively, and play spirited if not great defense. Best case is 10 ppg, 3 apg, 1 spg and shooting 35% from three.

Worst case for Tyler isn’t hugely different than best case. 8 ppg, 2 apg, 32% from three.

Alex Sylvester: Johnson

Best Case - Tyler plays so well off the bench that he becomes a big part in the Suns 4th quarter closing lineups alongside Devin. His stability at the backup 1 position allows the Suns to offload his contract for a draft asset at the trade deadline so Ty Jerome can take over the role post ASB.

Worst case - TJ comes out to the media disgruntled with his role and begins to unleash on the FO. This drama leads to a year where the Suns are unable to move on from his contract and he’s bought out in true Suns fashion.

Q3 - Aron Baynes.

GuarGuar: The best case for Baynes is he really helps develop Deandre Ayton into a star center. He shows him the toughness needed for the position in the NBA, and Ayton goes on to have a fantastic year. On the side, Baynes has a career year in all categories playing 16-20 minutes a game.

The worst case is Aron has a Tyson Chandler like impact on this team. His game regresses heavily and his impact on a young promising center is minimal at best.

Sun-Arc: Aron Baynes

Best case: 9 pt, 5.5 rb, 1.3 ast, .3 stl on 18.5 mpg, 36% 3pt on 3 attempts, with a 120 ORtg and 104 DRtg - and we all wish he was playing more, but, DAMN, Ayton is so damn good you just can’t give him more minutes.

Worst case: 6 pt, 4.5 rb, .3 ast, 0 stl on 16 mpg, 32% 3pt on 3 attempts, with a 100 ORtg and 105 DRtg and we wish we could play him less. To add to that, worst case is he asks to be waived before Christmas. I think reality is in between best and worst for him- but closer to best.

SDKyle: Aron Baynes

Best case: 8 pts, 7 rbds, 2 asts, 60% TS.

Worst case: 5 pts, 5 rbds, 1 ast, 55% TS.

I’ve been accused of being an Aron Baynes hater (weird), but the reality is that he’s a very reliable consistent player and I expect he will continue that this year. Best case he’s an above average bench big, worst case he’s an average one.

The more we’re talking about Baynes, though, the worse for DeAndre Ayton, I suppose. So maybe we should hope he has a quiet, workmanlike year.

SouthernSun: Baynes is similar to Tyler in that I doubt there’s much difference between best and worst case. Baynes probably only plays 15mpg on average. If he’s fully engaged the whole season I could see him averaging 7 ppg, 4 rpg, .5 bpg and some savvy dirty tough veteran play, as well as shooting a few threes per game and hitting 36%. Hopefully while being a tough opponent for Ayton to go against in practice.

Worst case is he checks out but goes through the motions enough to still get paid by another team next summer. 4 ppg, 3 rpg and 32% from deep.

Alex Sylvester: Baynes

Best Case - Aron plays so well at the backup C that his defensive presence and floor spacing leads the Suns bench unit to be respectable this season. Baynes also has a tremendous influence on Deandre’s defense and physicality.

Worst case - Aron hurts Deandre in practice by bullying him too much. Great, our #1 overall pick is out for weeks.

Q4 - Frank Kaminsky.

GuarGuar: The best case for Frank is he continues to shoot the ball extremely well and give us much needed floor spacing. His defense also improves and he sees consistent bench minutes for us this year. He becomes a huge reason why our team has a great bench unit.

The worst case is he plays so bad he falls behind both Cam Johnson and Diallo on the depth chart, barely seeing any playing time this season.

Sun-Arc: Frank Kaminsky

Best case: 12 pt, 5 rb, 2.6 ast, 0.4 stl on 17 mpg, 39% 3pt on 5.5 attempts, with a 118 ORtg and 110 DRtg. But Saric is even better so the Tank doesn’t get more minutes.

Worst case: 7.5 pt, 4.1 rb, 1.2 ast, .3 stl on 20 mpg, 33% 3pt on 5 attempts, with a 106 ORtg and 166 DRtg (exaggeration). Basically, he can’t hit his shots and can’t defend, yet Saric is so piss poor we have to play him 20 mpg.

I’m not expecting much of anything from Kaminsky. I think he will be a net negative on the court most of the time. Here’s hoping he proves me wrong.

SDKyle: Frank Kaminsky

Best case: 7 pts, 3 rbds, 2 asts, 57% TS

Worst case: basically doesn’t play except in garbage time.

Not expecting a heck of a lot from Kaminsky. He doesn’t do anything offensively that Saric doesn’t, isn’t a good defender, and he’s an almost comically bad rebounder for his size. I could honestly see the Suns preferring Cheick Diallo for defense and rebounding.

So either he’s a serviceable deep bench option or we forget he’s even on the team.

SouthernSun: Frank will probably play between 15 and 20 minutes per game on average. 15 when the roster is healthy, 20+ if one of the other bigs is injured. He’s a good three point shooter and a decent passer for a big. He doesn’t rebound particularly well. But what he does do, he does pretty well. I could see a best case scenario of 9 ppg 4 rpg 1.5 apg and shooting 38% from three.

Worst case is he has a down year from three, which makes him unplayable since the shooting he provides in the only thing making up for his lack of rebounding and defense. 6 ppg 3 rpg and 33% from three.

Alex Sylvester: Kaminsky

Best case - Frank the Tank is an elite floor spacer and helps the Suns rebounding numbers off the bench. He wins over the backup 4/5 role and actually contributes!

Worst case - Frank sucks and eats 5 million dollars that could’ve been used on a different backup 4, which the Suns desperately needed over the summer. He’s cut next summer and moved on from quickly.

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


2018-19 Season Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks Full Game Highlights | March 6, 2018

Devin Booker Full Highlights 2019.03.06 Suns vs Knicks - 41 Pts, 6 Threes!


Interesting Suns Stuff


News & Notes

Ricky Rubio and his Impact on Devin Booker. Last Word on Pro Basketball

Video: Kelly Oubre Jr. introduces ‘Beanie Kelly’ at pickup game. Clutch Points

Ricky Rubio’s playmaking flourishing for Spain, coming soon to Suns. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Can the Phoenix Suns utilize Aron Baynes’ newfound 3-point shooting? Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic

Bill Simmons clarifies Devin Booker comments, says Suns star lacks ‘meaningful’ games. Clutch Points


Suns History in Video

Phoenix Suns 2009-2010 Season Highlights

Steve Nash Full Highlights 2010 WCSF Game 1 vs Spurs - 33 Pts, 10 Dimes, LEGEND!


Suns Trivia

There are just 15 days until training camp begins! 13 players have worn the number 15 for the Suns: Mike Holton 1985-1986, Sedric Toney 1986, Steve Burtt 1992, Danny Manning 1995-1999, Daniel Santiago 2001, Vinny Del Negro 2002, Cezary Trybanski 2004, Josh Davis 2006, Nikoloz Tskitishvili 2006, Robin Lopez 2009-2012, Marcus Morris 2013-2015, Alan Williams 2016-2018 and Ryan Anderson 2019.

There are 22 days until the first preseason game! 12 players have worn the number 22 for the Suns: Johnny High 1980-1981, Larry Nance 1982-1988, Danny Ainge 1993-1995, John Wallace 2002, Brevin Knight 2004, James Jones 2006-2007, Matt Barnes 2009, Zabian Dowdell 2011, Michael Redd 2012, Miles Plumlee 2014-2015, Elijah Millsap 2017 and Deandre Ayton 2019.

There are 37 days until the Suns’ regular season opener... and no Suns player has ever worn the number 37!


Previewing the Weeks (and Months) Ahead

September 30 - Media Day!

October 1 - Training camp opens.

October 8 - Phoenix Suns vs Minnesota Timberwolves (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

October 10 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

October 12 - Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers (preseason), 5:00 pm AZT

October 14 - Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

October 19 - Last day to waive a player on a non-guaranteed contract and not incur a cap hit.

October 21 - Regular season rosters must be set (17 players maximum including 2 two-way contract players).

October 22 - NBA 2019-20 regular season begins.

October 31 - Last day that teams can exercise team options on the rookie scale contracts of former first-round picks.

Looking way ahead to this year’s trade deadline...

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.


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “Do you agree with Devin Booker’s decision to pass on playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup?”

76% - Yes.

24% - No.

There were 189 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

The possibility that Aron Baynes may miss some of training camp due to his injury is...

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Very bad.
    (38 votes)
  • 39%
    Moderately disturbing.
    (139 votes)
  • 49%
    Not good but not really a big concern.
    (174 votes)
351 votes total Vote Now