clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Center of the Sun: Hopes and expectations are often at odds for Phoenix Suns fans

New, comments

Fan expectations often tend to be conservative or “realistic.” Hopes can be another story, though.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

At 11:00 am (local time) on September 30, players are officially allowed to report to their teams. Media Day will begin and then training camp will open on the following day, October 1.

That’s 28 days from today.

In 36 days, the Suns will play their first preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In 51 days, the Suns will play their regular season opener against the Sacramento Kings.

Those things may still seem a long time away to many but I’m already starting to feel some excitement. I look forward to the beginning of each new NBA season much like little kids look forward to Christmas. Yes, the Suns were bad last year and have been bad for many years but that never seems to dampen my hope and enthusiasm when the next season finally comes around.

I try to be realistic with my expectations but what I expect doesn’t keep me from hoping that the Suns somehow wildly exceed those expectations. They’ve done it before. Some day they’ll do it again. Will this be the year? Logic tells me “no” but what does logic really have to do with being a fan of any team in any sport?

Logic tells me the Suns will be better this season but probably not a great deal better and certainly not ‘playoffs bound’ better. The West is too strong, many other teams have also gotten better, we will have a load of new players and an entirely new coaching staff, it’s going to take time for everything to gel and learn new offensive and defensive schemes... all of these are good, logical reasons to keep expectations down to a moderate level before the season begins.

But then there’s still that little voice in the back of my head whispering, “What if... ?”

A few days ago I wrote an article about the 2015-16 Suns and how so many things went wrong during that season which completely torpedoed their chances at a winning season. Well, what if everything - or almost everything - went right this season? Again, logic tells me that probably won’t happen but logic also tells me that there’s a tiny chance that it will and that tiny chance keeps that little whispering voice of hope in the back of my mind talking.

Omar Soussi did a fine job of pointing out the best and worst case scenarios for the 2019-20 Suns yesterday. His best case scenario is probably very close to what I think is the best possible outcome which we could logically expect. It’s far from the one the little voice in the back of my mind whispers about though. Logic tells me that scenario is a pipe dream... but it’s still a fun dream.

I suppose those whispered pipe dreams are a big part of what gets me excited every year as a new season draws near. The hope inspired by those pipe dreams has often been crushed way too early in the season in the past few years though. The 2013-14 season was the last that kept me both excited and hopeful throughout and I hope to feel that again this season... no matter what logic may tell me.

Way back in 1734, English poet Alexander Pope used the words “hope springs eternal” in his poem, An Essay on Man. That phrase quite accurately describes my fandom as I’m sure it does of many other Suns fans.

Dream on, Suns fans. That’s a big part of the fun of being a fan. At the very least, we can all hope for an exciting season to look forward to regardless of what anyone expects.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - What’s your biggest concern for this upcoming season?

GuarGuar: My biggest concern this year is Deandre Ayton doesn’t take a leap. We desperately need him to improve on both ends of the floor for us to become a good team. The only video I’ve seen of him this summer is from Jamal Crawford’s event in Seattle. I still very much believe he’s working on his game every day, but it would be nice to see a little clip of DA working out. I just have PTSD from the past 2 offseasons with Marquese Chriss and Josh Jackson.

Sun-Arc: My biggest concern is definitely defense, with shooting as a close second. James Jones picked up a bunch of players this offseason that are known as defensive minuses. I’m looking at you, Saric and Kaminsky. The former has some ability to be decent as a team defender, but Dario is too slow of foot to guard one-on-one nearly anyone in the league besides old big-men. For the past three seasons, Saric posted a DRtg of 114 and DBPM of minus -1.4.

Kaminsky will simply be a larger version of Hakim Warrick unless he shows us something different from his first four seasons. One of my favorite posts of all time was from someone that compared Warrick’s defense to one of the inflatable dancing men in front of used car lots. Kaminsky hasn’t even been as effective as one of those in the games I’ve watched. Last season he had a DRtg of 114 and DBPM of minus -1.9. In his last three seasons these two defensive metrics have actually gotten worse each year.

Rubio will help the defense, and I like what Oubre brings, and Mikal of course. I think Ayton can and will improve on that side. Baynes will help some off the bench too. Yet, remember how awful our defense was playing Ariza and TJ at the starting four spot? Well, we haven’t addressed that issue at power forward at all. Having any negative defender on the court along with Booker and Ayton might be a recipe for blow outs unless Ayton suddenly becomes Embiid, which seems unlikely.

It is for this reason that I wonder if the team will be able to play Saric or Kaminsky much, which means the best shooting big-men won’t be shooting as much as we need. So the perimeter shot % could be effected too.

SDKyle: I’d say my biggest concern, despite expected improvement, is defense. I’m pretty sure this team will be able to score some points, but I’m not sure it’ll put too many lineups on the floor that have more than a couple even average defenders out there.

A lot depends on the strides Ayton makes forcing some lower percentages from guys shooting in the painted area, as well as in continued growth/consistency from Oubre and Bridges. In a best case scenario I think this could be almost an average defending team, but I’d settle for just not bottom five at this point.

SouthernSun: My biggest concern for the upcoming season is Devin Booker remaining healthy. For the last couple of years he’s had a number of nagging injuries that have resulted in a lot of missed time. If it continues this season, we may need to start being worried that he’s injury prone.

Alex Sylvester: Biggest concern is getting off to a bad start with our tough schedule. I really hope this team isn’t 5-17 and pack it in early like every single season has felt for years.

Q2 - Since the 2009-10 season, which Suns team did you have the highest hopes for but were ultimately the most disappointed in?

GuarGuar: I was really excited and hopeful for the 2015-16 season with the “Slash Bros” of Bledsoe and Knight. We started out 7-5 and looked pretty promising. Then we went on an east coast road trip and choked 3 games in a row, and went on an insane losing stretch. Bledsoe and Knight got hurt, and that was it. At least a rookie named Devin Booker helped me get through the rest of that season.

Sun-Arc: My biggest disappointment was last season, without a doubt. The three before it I KNEW the team was tanking and would be terrible. But last season I got my hopes up. I actually liked the Ariza signing because he should have been a 3&D player, which is what the team needs around Booker and Ayton. But Ariza dogged it and we never got a starting NBA caliber point guard. There was ZERO chemistry between most of the guys for most of the season, TJ bottomed out emotionally, and Igor was totally ineffective. Then injuries took over. Incredibly disappointing.

SDKyle: It’s sort of a close call between the 14/15 Suns and the 15/16 Suns. The 14/15 squad was coming on the heels of the 48-win Cinderella season, so to come off the excitement of being in playoff contention right up to game 82 and then the next year readjust to being effectively out of the hunt over the last couple of weeks sucked.

The 15/16 team was a team I guess I didn’t think would set the world on fire, but it disappointed me because of how it unraveled and began a string of straight-up embarrassing years. There was the messy end of things with both Jeff Hornacek and Markieff Morris, the poor play of Brandon Knight after he got a 5-year $70 million contract from us, and the awkward ascent of Earl Watson. This was probably when I realized for sure that the people driving the Suns bus were drunk.

SouthernSun: Definitely the hydra season with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe starting, with I.T. and Gerald Green coming off the bench. They even started off really well, but by the trade deadline personalities and egos had clashed, and the unfortunate trades took place that resulted in the Suns getting Brandon Knight and then signing him to a 5 year contract. If that team had been able to stay together they would have made the playoffs and maybe even been a tough out in the first round. Bledsoe, Dragic, Green, I.T., PJ Tucker, the Morris twins. It was a fun team.

Alex Sylvester: Last year was certainly up there, I’d also say the lockout shortened season (2011-12) was a disappointing year as well because you started to feel the Nash era falling into pieces. I honestly thought even with the PG situation last year the Suns could win 30 games. So much for that!

Q3 - What would you consider to be former GM Ryan McDonough’s best and worst decisions?

GuarGuar: Even though it was a pretty consensus selection, taking Devin Booker at #13 is by far McDonough’s best move. He got a future superstar at the end of the lottery, something very hard to do. Unfortunately, he failed epically to build around him. McDonough’s made a ton of terrible decisions so it’s really hard for me to narrow it down to one. But if I have to, I got to go with the 2017 draft. Who knows whether McDonough actually wanted JJ over Tatum, but at the end of the day, he took one of the worst players in the draft at #4 overall. It set our rebuild back big time, because he already botched the 2016 draft.

Josh was another consensus pick, and everyone was pretty happy we got him. But he flopped big time. We could have had Fox, Lauri, or Isaac easily. All 3 would have a great impact on this current team. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Sun-Arc: Best McD move is easy: The trade involving Dudley for Bledsoe.

Worst has a lot of candidates, but in retrospect I’ll go with: Every draft pick between Booker and Ayton/Mikal. He always went consensus pick, even after trying out tons of guys. Seemed to ignore character completely (Chriss, Ulis, Jackson, Bender’s lack of aggression). If we had taken Jamal Murray instead of Bender, or Fox instead of Jackson our team would be so very much better today. He was supposed to be a good scout but really wasn’t.

Dishonorable mentions:

  • Point Guard Tradeaggedon. We gave away a ton of assets for Brandon Knight, essentially. At the time I was a fan of Knights- but hadn’t seen him play enough, apparently. Because, man he sucked so very much.
  • The Isaiah Thomas signing, which led to Tradeaggedon is right up there too. Without that, Goran likely stays along with Bled.
  • Trading Marcus Morris and not Markieff was miserable.
  • Not finding a PG last offseason.

I’m getting depressed now. I think I need to stop.

SDKyle: McD did some small things right, especially early in his tenure... but the only good move he made still worth mentioning is Devin Booker. Booker was considered by plenty of draft experts to be the best guy on the board when the Suns’ turn came, but McD deserves credit for seeing Booker’s talent and pulling the trigger on him instead of overthinking it and taking someone like Rashad Vaughn.

His biggest mistakes, in no specific order, are the Brandon Knight acquisition deal, Dragan Bender, Earl Watson, and his general lack of ability to manage people. That last one is arguably the biggest, as it chased talent out of town (Dragic, Bledsoe)and contributed to the Suns’ reputation as a player-unfriendly franchise best avoided by free agents looking for more than a last paycheck.

SouthernSun: Ryan McDonough’s best decision: Trading Jared Dudley and a 2nd round pick for Eric Bledsoe. Because he was able to turn a declining rotation player and a late pick into a young up and coming player that would become a fringe all star caliber player.

His worst decision was. Wow that’s hard. So many things. But it was probably trading the Lakers 1st for Knight. In hindsight. Mainly due to how he turned out. I definitely understand the reasoning, but he ended up succumbing to injuries and became a shell of himself. To the point where he had to be traded for the corpse of Ryan Anderson.

Keep in mind that all of McDonough’s draft picks were praised at the time he made them, despite most turning out to be complete busts. Otherwise I might have put passing on Jamal Murray for Bender, or taking Josh Jackson instead of Lauri Markkanen.

Alex Sylvester: Best is undoubtedly Booker. Shoutout to Valley Of The Suns for writing an article proclaiming the “Marquese Chriss” trade as a top 3 McD move during his era. Yikes.

Worst were his trades that he made at the deadline that were rushed. On top of that, alienating your best player (Dragic) by signing a starting level PG in Isaiah Thomas who then alienates Eric Bledsoe all while being traded at the deadline of the same year in a lopsided trade in favor of Boston? Priceless.

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

Los Angeles Lakers vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | March 2, 2018-19

Deandre Ayton Full Highlights 2019.03.02 Suns vs Lakers - 26 Pts, 10 Rebs!

Devin Booker Full Highlights 2019.03.02 Suns vs Lakers - 25 Pts, 4 Rebs, 4 Asts!


Quote of the Week

Ricky Rubio is an ultimate point guard, pass-first guy that’s gonna create and make guys have fun when they’re on the court.” - Suns assistant coach Steve Blake


Interesting Suns Stuff

The Outlet with Ty Jerome (21 minutes)

Direct link to the quiz.


News & Notes

Pacific Division: Predicting The Standings For The 2019-20 NBA Season. Clutch Points

The Beauty (and Angst) of Devin Booker’s Game Is in the Eye of the Beholder. The Ringer

Phoenix Suns: Should the Suns trade Devin Booker sooner rather than later? Sir Charles in Charge

Phoenix Suns: Analyzing Ricky Rubio’s potential impact. Hoops Habit

Former NBA guard, current Suns assistant coach Steve Blake calls Ricky Rubio ‘an ultimate point guard’. Clutch Points


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

Devin Booker attempted the fewest corner threes in his career last season. In 2015-16, 6.58% of his total shot attempts were corner 3s. In 2016-17 it was 4.13%, in 2017-18 it was 4.27% and in 2018-19 only 2.39%. His percentages from the corners last season were 35.7% from the right corner and 37.5% from the left.


Previewing the Weeks (and Months) Ahead

September 5 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks (those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered).

September 28 - Training camps open for all teams that are participating in the preseason NBA Global Games.

September 30 - For all other teams, players are allowed to report to their teams after 11 a.m. local time.

October 1 - Training camps open.

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 “Would you like to see the Suns bring back orange uniforms this season?”

55% - Yes.

21% - No.

24% - I don’t care about uniform colors.

There were 233 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

Do you think that the national sports media is often "unfair" to the Suns?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Yes.
    (107 votes)
  • 16%
    No.
    (30 votes)
  • 26%
    It depends on the specific topic.
    (49 votes)
186 votes total Vote Now