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Center of the Sun: The Suns’ 2019-20 season is just around the corner

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The time for only conjecture and speculation is almost over.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

One week from today it all starts to get real.

The regular season is still a month away but starting next week the seemingly endless offseason will actually end and Suns fans can all expect more real news coming their way. Real basketball news, interviews, photos/videos... all the things we’ve all missed for so long.

Monday, September 30 is Suns Media Day, the first day that all players are directly available to the media. New head coach Monty Williams and GM James Jones will of course be there too, answering questions and offering up what we all hope will turn out to be words of wisdom.

After that, the team heads out to Flagstaff were training camp begins the following day on the Northern Arizona University campus. On Sunday, October 6, they will return to Phoenix for a FREE open practice at Talking Stick Resort Arena at 1 pm and on Tuesday, October 8, the Suns will play their first preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Soon there will be no more speculation as to how this season will play out as we will be watching it play out... and no more focusing on scraps of Suns related news like this:

Kelly Oubre Jr. Suing Ex-Girlfriend, You Stole My Dogs!

Yes, it’s a real story. Classic TMZ reporting that only a month ago some news starved sports media types might have used to create even more stories such as: Will this be a distraction and affect Oubre’s offseason prep for the new season? If this drags on, will Oubre be able to stay focused on the court? Will Oubre wind up missing games if this eventually goes to court? I suppose you’ve caught my drift by now.

Who wouldn’t be upset over losing these cute little pups though?

Perhaps such articles are still on the way as we still have an entire week left before real Suns news that is actually worth writing about becomes abundant once again. One has already popped up but it thankfully only went as far as proposing:

It will be in Oubre’s best interest to have this issue resolved at the soonest, with the start of the new season closing in.

That is true as I’m sure the situation has to be at least a little bit distracting for Kelly. Maybe even more than just a little bit... maybe...

Oh, no! Now I’ve gotten myself - and maybe you too - wondering just how distracting it might become! This is starting to turn into one of those articles that I hoped I’d never see written.

Sigh.

I can’t wait for the offseason to finally be over.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - Most fans seem to expect/want a 9 man rotation of Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Dario Saric, Deandre Ayton, Tyler Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes early on. Which player that most fans expect to start the season out of the regular rotation do you believe will earn significant rotation minutes first?

GuarGuar: I think Cam Johnson could earn significant rotation minutes early on this season. Our front office was clearly very high on Cam to take him at 11. We desperately need shooting and he’s supposed to be an elite shooter. I can see him playing over Kaminsky and Diallo for backup 4 minutes.

Sun-Arc: There are a couple of different ways to go here. The easiest answer is Cheick Diallo, simply because... A) Baynes will be injured to start the season, and... B) he has NBA experience and is one of the young ‘vets’ Jones brought in. Kaminsky and Diallo are the only other backup bigs on the team, so its quite possible Cheick will get playing time right away.

The popular answer some probably want to hear is Cam Johnson, so that we can see why Jones took him so early in the draft. I hope he turns out to be better than anyone else thought he would be. I am not expecting him to be playable in the NBA because of the likelihood of being too slow and a poor defender, rebounder, and passer. Even if he shoots lights out (say, 40% from three) he could still end up being a clear net negative. If so, he won’t see significant minutes.

The emotional answer others might want is Jalen Lecque. But that won’t happen early on at all, IMO. He’d have to really impress in training camp AND preseason. That seems unlikely. Having said that, with the athleticism and defensive mindset he showed in summer league, I could see him getting minutes towards the end of the season if he really does shine in the G League and in practice. Unlikely, but possible. The defense and ability to draw fouls could allow him court time ahead of Cam, Jerome, and Okobo/Carter if Tyler Johnson is traded or injured.

SDKyle: Call me crazy, but Cheick Diallo. The guy is a rebounding machine at more than 13 per 36, can defend a bit with that 7’4 wingspan that he started to bother shooters with last season, and has a more than respectable mid-range game that allows him to be a decent last option on offense.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he starts getting some of the Kaminsky minutes before too long, especially if he’s developed any wrinkles to his offensive game. He only just turned 23, so it’s possible last year’s product wasn’t all he is.

SouthernSun: This question doesn’t have an easy answer. On the one hand, if Tyler Johnson is eventually used in a trade for a PF on a big dollar deal (Love, Gordon, Griffin, etc.), then Jevon Carter (or perhaps Ty Jerome) is likely to get more minutes than we initially expect. If Kaminsky is included in that same deal, than Diallo is likely to get more burn.

Which player not in that first 9 will most likely get minutes this season, without a trade? I’ll say Jevon Carter. Booker usually misses some time, and Carter is a known defensive menace. I’m guessing he will have some fans clamoring for minutes for him. Probably the same people who loved Melton.

Alex Sylvester: I can see Diallo earning minutes quickly! PF is not going to be a strong suit of this roster and if he’s able to play spot minutes and bring energy, I could see his fit on the 2nd unit coming together quickly.

Q2 - Which Suns player worries you the most that he could turn out to be a “wasted” addition to the roster?

GuarGuar: I’m going with Cam Johnson for this question too. Although I’m optimistic about Cam’s potential impact on this team, I do worry we completely wasted the pick on him. I think part of my reasoning is we reached big time compared to where he was projected. He’s not supposed to be a good defender and we need defense. We also have a bunch of forwards on this team who should see big minutes over him (Mikal, Oubre, Saric). It was an odd pick on draft night and it still looks pretty odd. Time will tell.

Sun-Arc: So many possibilities to choose from on who might be a wasted addition.

  • Cam Johnson, because of what I mentioned in the first question.
  • Kaminsky, for the same reason as Cam.
  • Ty Jerome, for the same reason as Cam.
  • Diallo, because he shows he’s just not a true NBA quality player AND can’t shoot.
  • Carter/Lecque because they aren’t NBA quality players.

The second least popular answer...

  • Saric, because he shows why he’s been let go twice in his very young NBA career. Do I think he’s been a victim of circumstance? I do think it is possible. Do I think Williams’ coaching could bring out the most of him? I think this is also possible. But I can’t also shake the possibility he just might not be very good. And even if he is pretty good, he might be a poor fit next to Ayton because of his lack of defense. Remember TJ’s negative on/off numbers compared to Oubre when it came to fit next to Ayton and Booker? Saric (and Kaminsky) do nothing to fix the defensive issues next to our two ‘future stars’.

And the least popular answer...

  • Rubio, because he ends up being injured most of the season. Oy Gevalt! That would be awful.

SDKyle: I don’t think any of the players being talked about will end up as total “wastes.” I think Kaminsky will end up being fairly disappointing (lack of defense, HORRIBLE rebounding) and I kinda doubt Cam Johnson will be an impact rookie (inability to win significant minutes over the guys ahead of him) but there’s nobody in the presumptive top 10 of players on the Suns that I think will be an utter disaster if your expectations are realistic.

SouthernSun: Baynes. We let Richaun Holmes walk when we could have given him the same money Aron makes. Baynes is 32 and currently has a groin injury. I’m a tad worried that the Suns made the wrong move there, but I’m still excited for him.

Alex Sylvester: Cam Johnson. If his shooting isn’t elite out the gate, there’s a chance he might not even be part of the regular rotation going forward. Using a lottery pick on a situation like that? That’d be rough.

Q3 - Which team in the Western Conference with high expectations (not the Suns of course) do you think could “crash and burn” and be a major disappointment instead?

GuarGuar: I feel like Portland has been the answer to this question for the past 2 years, but they’ve been very consistent and good despite all the doubt. However, I think they could slip this year. Nurkic being out for a big chunk of the season is my main reasoning. Replacing him with Whiteside is a pretty big downgrade. They also lost Aminu, Harkless, and Seth Curry, three solid role players. I think their defense takes a sizeable step back this season. I could see them only fighting for an 8 seed come March.

Sun-Arc: I’m going to say the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Fakers for the fun of it all.

GSW - They lost Durant, Klay, Livingston, and Iggy. That is a LOT of their core. While they still have Steph, Green, and Kerr, it just doesn’t feel nearly as intimidating. I also think Russell could end up being a bad fit with them. You put that together with a tremendously thin bench and I think they could be in for a long season- even when Klay comes back from injury, and even if he returns to old form right away.

LAL - After whiffing on the offseason with the exception of Anthony Davis, plus losing Cousins to another big injury, they went out and signed Dwight Howard as their big acquisition towards contention. Outside of Davis, whom I love as a player (but no longer as a person), they have an aging roster of meh outside of Kuzma, who I don’t see as a star at all. We saw how LBJ started pulling punches towards the end of last season once he saw they weren’t going anywhere. If this season ends up going badly I could see the entire team folding like wet cardboard shortly after the ASB- or maybe even January. And I’ll have a satisfied smirk on my face.

Honorable mention goes to Dallas.

SDKyle: This may just be wishful thinking, but the Lakers are an awfully big question mark to me. They were supposed to win 50 games last year, and they were pretty bad. Now they add Anthony Davis to the mix and again the pundits have them as an elite team. I’m not convinced. As amazing as AD is, will he stay healthy for more than 65 games? He’s only averaged 67 games in his career, including 56 last year.

I’m a Lebron fan, and feel privileged to have seen him play in his prime... but he’s almost 35 and is noticeably declined from the force of nature he was not long ago. Can he stay healthy, and can he still be upper echelon elite? If anyone can defy expectations it’s him... but being all-NBA quality at 35 years old is a hell of an ask.

SouthernSun: The Lakers. This may be my Suns Fandom Laker hatred talking, but if LeBron and AD, two players with recent difficulty staying healthy (LeBron mainly due to being 35), miss a little more time than some people think they will, the talent level on that team is nowhere near good enough to win without them. Their third best player is Danny Green. If one of them is out for a significant portion of the season, I could see them fighting to stay in the playoff race.

Alex Sylvester: New Orleans. I could see there being too many players that need shots and opportunity where chemistry and scheme could be difficult for Alvin Gentry to struggle. I think JJ Redick is going to take a step back with his old age and whose to say Lonzo is going to be a serviceable starting PG? They’re very young so there is a world where I can see them only winning 29 games.

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

Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | March 10, 2018-19

Devin Booker Full Highlights 2019.03.10 Warriors vs Suns - 37 Pts, 11 Asts, 8 Rebs!

Kelly Oubre Jr Full Highlights 2019.03.10 Warriors vs Suns - 22 Pts, 9-14 FGM!

Deandre Ayton Full Highlights 2019.03.10 Warriors vs Suns - 18 Pts, 9 Rebs, 4 Asts!


Quotes of the Week

”I’ve always been able to create for myself, but I definitely want to be able to create for others next year.” - Kelly Oubre Jr.

”We haven’t really demanded anybody’s respect yet, so rightfully so we’re gonna be slept on. We’re gonna have to wake some people up this year.” - Kelly Oubre Jr.


Interesting Suns Stuff


News & Notes

Former NBA guard Antonio Daniels claims Suns star Devin Booker has ‘top 10 potential’. Clutch Points

Suns announce medical staff, officially moving on from Aaron Nelson era. Logan Newman/Arizona Sports

Deal Between Suns, Haywood Highsmith Falls Through. Slam Online

25-under-25: The Devin Booker discourse will soon reach its apex. Gerald Bourguet

Phoenix Suns All-Time Team. Last Word on Pro Basketball

Kelly Oubre Jr. on Valley Boyz merch, free agency process and more. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back

Phoenix Suns Champion Early Childhood Education with $2.6 Million Donation to Phoenix Head Start Program. Suns.com

25-under-25: The table is set for Deandre Ayton to feed. Gerald Bourguet


Suns History in Video

The Madhouse on McDowell


Suns Trivia

During their initial 1968-69 season, the Suns played four regular-season games in Tucson. During the preseason, they also played games in Mesa, Globe, Flagstaff and Fort Huachuca, all in an effort to bring the NBA to the entire state of Arizona.


Previewing the Weeks Ahead

September 30 - Media Day!

October 1 - Training camp opens.

October 6 - Open Practice (FREE!) at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 1:00pm AZT

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.


Important Future Dates

December 15 - First day that players signed to new contracts can be traded.

  • 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.

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).


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “The possibility that Aron Baynes may miss some of training camp due to his injury is...”

10.8% - Bad.

39.6% - Moderately disturbing.

49.6% - Not good but not really a big concern.

There were 351 votes cast.


This week’s poll is related to an article I wrote not too long ago about the Suns’ potential to improve their three-point shooting as a team. They made only 32.9% of their three point attempts last season and were dead last in the NBA. I feel certain that they will improve this season but didn’t hazard a guess as to how much they might improve. Today I’m asking your for your opinions on that.

Poll

This season the Suns’ 3-point shooting will...

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Not improve.
    (6 votes)
  • 26%
    Improve to 34+% (but less than 35%).
    (52 votes)
  • 53%
    Improve to 35+% (but less than 36%).
    (103 votes)
  • 17%
    Improve to 36+%. (only 7 teams shot this well last season)
    (33 votes)
194 votes total Vote Now