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Center of the Sun: Rubio and Baynes are playing well in China and hopefully they will continue to do so with Suns

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As the FIBA World Cup games near their end, the beginning of training camp looms closer.

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Although the FIBA World Cup hasn’t generated a lot of interest in Team USA in Suns fans this season (that would have changed drastically if Devin Booker had not asked to not be invited though), two of the newest additions to the Suns are playing in it for their home countries. Both Ricky Rubio (Spain) and Aron Baynes (Australia) are playing well and contributing to wins. Let that last bit sink in for a moment... contributing to wins.

That’s something we all want to see more of in Phoenix this season.

Spain is 5-0 and Australia is 4-0 with one game left to play against France (which will probably over before many of you read this) before the quarterfinals begin on Tuesday. Below are Rubio’s and Baynes’ FIBA WC stats and some highlights.

Ricky Rubio | Full Highlights - First Round | FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019

World Cup Stats: 24.1 mpg, 14.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.4 spg, 3 TO, 2.4 PF, 41.5% FG, 41.2% 3pt (1.4/3.4), 84.6% FT (4.4/5,2)

Aron Baynes highlights vs Lithuania - 2019 FIBA World Cup in China

World Cup stats: 27.7 mpg, 17.7 ppg, 2.3 apg, 8.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 1 TO, 3.3 PF, 56.4% FG, 33.3% 3pt (1/3), 85.7% FT (2/2.3)

UPDATE: Australia defeated France 100-98. Baynes box scores: 27:01 mins, 21 pts, 5 rebs, 2 asst, 78% FG (7/9), 83% 3pt (5/6), 100% FT (2/2)

They’ve played key roles on their respective teams which is something we hope they can also do in Phoenix. We hope the same for all of the other new additions to the team as well as the returning players. With so many new faces on both the roster and the coaching staff, there will undoubtedly be some bumps in the road early on but the road itself might prove to be a little smoother in the beginning than in years past.

Monty Williams will have much more to work with than any other Suns coach in the past few years. However you measure success, it will only come with a total team effort with everyone contributing every night. The Suns’ roster is better than in previous years but they are still far from proven as a team. That may be Williams’ biggest challenge, turning this group of players that are largely unfamiliar with each other into a team and - hopefully - into a family.

Even though training camp is still about three weeks away, some of that bonding and forming of cohesion begins in the informal practices/scrimmages that players gather for in the weeks leading up to camp. We will hopefully start hearing about those soon and Rubio and Baynes should also be joining in shortly after the World Cup games are finished following the final on the 15th.

Fantable Questions of the Week

Lets play the “best case/worst case” scenario game this week. For each of the players listed below, give your best and worst case estimates for their performances this season.

Q1 - Ricky Rubio.

GuarGuar: The absolute best case for Ricky Rubio is he has a career season in a new environment, like Steve Nash years ago (obviously not as good). An increase in pace and better offensive talent around Rubio elevates his overall play significantly. His presence also takes Booker and Ayton’s games to another level.

The worst case for Rubio is his defense falls off, the jumper regresses, and he doesn’t have the playmaking impact we hope for this season. He adds to the list of veterans the Suns sign who rapidly decline.

Sun-Arc: Best case: 12pt, 4rb, 8ast, with 35% 3pt, and hearty defense. Ideally, he’d have the ball in his hands a lot to initiate plays, yet still moving the ball quickly- which is has almost always done. He is capable of a 38% assist rate and a 22% usage rate, which is rare.

Worst case: 15, 3, 4 with 30% 3pt, and slow footed and/or injured much of the season. Rubio has played in over 70 games in just half (4) of his seasons in the NBA.

SDKyle: Ricky Rubio:

Best case: 13 pts, 9 asts, 4 rbds, 54% TS.

Worst case: 10 pts, 5 asts, 4 rbds, 50% TS.

I think the big question with Rubio is just how central he will be to the Suns’s offense. Conventional wisdom is that Rubio brings his greatest value as a playmaker, but we don’t really know for sure how that dynamic will work itself it between he and Booker. In either case, I think Rubio will still be a low volume relatively inefficient shooter as he always has been... and I expect average to above-average defense.

On the whole I’m not too worried about Rubio...I think he will deliver on what’s expected of him.

SouthernSun: I’ll start with worst case scenario. Rubio comes in and starts off playing really well. Really focused. Playing great ball. But then, over time, it becomes obvious that the Suns are a losing team, and Rubio ends up caring a little less and his performance suffers. 10ppg and 6apg on 40% from the field and 30% from three. Decent but not good defense.

Now best case scenario. Rubio excels. Monty let’s him speed things up and he gets the offense humming. Helps Ayton have a standout year, Booker’s efficiency increases as well, and Rubio is able to play spirited defense and cover for Booker on that end a bit. Having all the options opening things up for him, Rubio’s shooting improves. Suns play competitive basketball every night. Rubio gives them 14ppg, 9apg, 2spg and Suns fans start to think of him as a bit of a poor man’s Steve Nash.

Alex Sylvester: Rubio best case: Averages double digit assists, plays above average defense at the starting PG position, and brings stability to the final 5 unit that closes games for the Suns.

Rubio worst case: Ricky declines in his guard defense and his shooting is so poor that he’s unable to be in the final 5 unit for the Suns, being replaced by Tyler Johnson. His impact is so minimal that his contract becomes unmovable and the Suns have to wait two+ years to move on.

Q2 - Dario Saric.

GuarGuar: The best case for Dario Saric is he shoots the ball well, plays competent defense, and has a very positive team player impact. He has such a terrific year that we re-sign him once the season ends.

The worst case is he shoots under 33% from 3 and doesn’t help our defense and rebounding. He’s replaced by Frank Kaminsky or Cam Johnson at some point during the season.

Sun-Arc: Best case: 14pt, 6rb, 3ast, with 40% 3pt on over 5 attempts per game, and plays decent team defense at least. (He hit 39% on 5.1 attempts his second season)

Worst case: 9, 3.5, 1, 33% 3pt on 4 attempts, is too slow to cover any player and Williams can’t keep him on the court because his negative presence on D doesn’t work next to Ayton.

SDKyle: Dario Saric:

Best case: 15 pts, 7 rbds, 3 asts, 58% TS

Worst case: 10 pts, 6 rbds, 2 asts, 55% TS

In a best case, I could see Saric have a sort of career rejuvenation this Phoenix. He’ll be on the floor with multiple good passers at a time, and he should have some space to operate with Booker drawing attention on the perimeter and DeAndre Ayton drawing attention in the paint. In a worst case, maybe he just settles in as a bench-level player who is clearly the weakest Suns’ starter.

SouthernSun: Super Dario. The Homie. I’ll start with worst case again. I think Dario will be solid either way. However, if he performs on the lower end of that spectrum, then I think he’d be giving the Suns about what he gave Minnesota. About 10ppg and 6rpg with mediocre defense.

Best case scenario is probably more like he did in 17/18 in Philly. Started 73 games, played in 78. 15ppg, 7rpg, 3apg and shooting 39% from three on 5 attempts per game. With a .58 TS%. 114 Ortg and 107 Drtg. VORP of 2.0.

Alex Sylvester: Saric best case: Dario’s playmaking and floor spacing becomes so valuable that he gets the attention of the Suns FO to become extended during the offseason. His fit next to Deandre is great because his defensive versatility takes a step forward!

Saric worst case: Dario cannot play defense for the life of him and can’t be on the floor unless Aron Baynes is playing alongside him. His 3PT shooting is below league average and the Suns look to move on from him at the deadline.

Q3 - Kelly Oubre Jr.

GuarGuar: The best case for Oubre is he plays like when he started for us last season. When starting, Oubre averaged 20-6-2-2-1 with a 45 FG%. His 3pt% would increase to above 35% this year too. He can create his own offense to help Booker and Ayton, while playing solid and energetic defense on a nightly basis.

The worst case for Oubre is he regresses to his Washington days. His defensive energy dies and he becomes pretty inefficient overall. Then he gets benched for Mikal Bridges and causes a locker room conflict, continuing the Kansas-wing tradition.

Sun-Arc: Best Case: 18pt, 5rb, 1.5ast, 35% 3pt on 4 attempts, playing hearty defense and creating 1.5 steals per game.

Worst case: 12, 2, .5, 30% 3pt on 6 attempts, playing poor defense while also turning over the ball because he is show-boating and taking the ball out of the hands of his teammates too much. In other words, he turns into Josh Jackson.

SDKyle: Kelly Oubre

Best case: 16 pts, 5 rbds, 3 asts, 57% TS

Worst case: 10 pts, 4 rbds, 2 asts, 52 % TS

Oubre is a player who could conceivably improve over last year following a full preseason to gel with his teammates as well as based on his age. He’ll bring intensity and decent defense no matter what, but it’s hard to know what to expect offensively. If he manages to pull a TJ Warren and find a dangerous ranged game, he could be a very important part of the attack. If he struggles as a shooter, he’ll have a more limited impact and may lose his presumed starting spot to Mikal Bridges.

SouthernSun: Kelly Oubre... Kelly, Kelly Oubre. Worst case scenario is he reverts back to the same guy he was in Washington. Which was an okay backup player. 10ppg, 4rpg, 42% from the field and 30% from three. Inconsistent defense. Doesn’t improve his shooting, even with more options around him freeing him up.

Best case scenario for the Papi is he continues where he left off with the Suns this past season. 17ppg, 5rpg, 1.4spg and 1bpg, getting as many deflections and near steals as Mikal Bridges. Trying hard on defense. And hopefully an improved three point shot. Not sure how much better at getting him open looks Rubio will be than John Wall though...

Alex Sylvester: Oubre best case: Kelly becomes the 2nd most valuable player on the Suns by becoming the most valuable defensive piece in the starting 5 and adds a layer of playmaking and scoring behind Devin and Ricky. His shooting splits take a rise and his impact with athleticism/versatility becomes so important that negotiations begin to extend him further towards the offseason.

Oubre worst case: He becomes complacent making good money on this current deal that he puts his energy and focus into everything not basketball related such as Converse and his SI model GF. This year becomes a huge disappointment for Oubre yet he still wants to get paid big money the following summer.

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

Bucks vs Suns | Phoenix Goes For 2nd Straight Victory | March 4, 2019

Kelly Oubre Jr Full Highlights 2019.03.04 Bucks vs Suns - 27 Pts, 13 Rebs, 3 Blks!

Devin Booker Full Highlights 2019.03.04 Bucks vs Suns - 22 Pts, 7 Asts!

Deandre Ayton Full Highlights 2019.03.04 Bucks vs Suns - 19 Pts, 12 Rebs, 3 Blks!

Interesting Suns Stuff

News & Notes

Phoenix Suns: 5 Bold Predictions for the 2019-20 NBA Season. Clutch Points

Suns legend Paul Westphal inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

30 Teams in 30 Days: Suns aiming to rise after busy offseason.

Ricky Rubio… By The Numbers. Sports360AZ

Phoenix Suns: Roles for Mikal Bridges this season. Hoops Habit

The complicated case for Shawn Marion to make the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Thirty Histories: Phoenix Suns. Real GM

Suns History in Video

Suns Trivia

In his 6 Seasons in Phoenix as a player, Paul Westphal averaged 20.6 points, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 465 games and was a 3-time All-NBA 1st teamer and 4-time All-Star.

In his three and a half seasons as the Suns head coach, his record was 191-88 (.685) and he coached the team to the playoffs in each of his first tree years and the NBA Finals in 1993.

Before joining the Suns’ coaching staff as an assistant in 1988, he was the head coach at Grand Canyon University (then Grand Canyon College) and led them to win the NAIA Division 1 national title in 1988.

Previewing the Weeks (and Months) Ahead

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

58% - Yes.

16% - No.

26% - It depends on the specific topic.

There were 186 votes cast.

This week’s poll is...


Do you agree with Devin Booker’s decision to pass on playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    (144 votes)
  • 23%
    (45 votes)
189 votes total Vote Now