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Center of the Sun: Suns and fans can only wait and hope that the season will eventually continue

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Everyone please take care, stay safe and be well as we await the NBA’s final decision.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers L (121-105) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks - Postponed (Via NBA2K - L 150-136)

Is the 2019-20 NBA season over? Some say yes, some say no and some say... maybe.

At the moment, ”maybe” is what I’m going with.

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the entire world upside down and made sports seem somewhat trivial in comparison but things will eventually return to normalcy. I’m certain of that, just as I’m certain that our common hunger for sports will still be there when it does. NBA fans and players alike don’t want to see this season just abruptly end and I believe that it is possible that we will eventually see more NBA basketball and a more palatable ending to this season.

How that comes about will depend on a lot of factors and I doubt it will be as simple as just picking up where we left off when the season was suspended but there are quite a few options the NBA could consider. The main concern will of course be the safety of both the players and the fans.

Before the suspension was announced, there was discussion of playing the games in closed arenas without crowds. This idea could be resurrected at some point. It wouldn’t be ideal but I’d take it over no NBA basketball at all.

Whether that is what comes to be or not, the NBA could also eventually just call an end to the regular season and go straight to playoff games with seeds based on the current regular season records. In 1998-99 the NBA season was limited to only 50 games and in 2011-12 it was limited to 66 games due to lockouts so a shortened season isn’t unprecedented. And playoff series weren’t always a best of seven format.

Before the 1975 playoffs, only 8 teams made it to the playoffs but that season the number went from 8 to 10 with the opening round comprised of the 4th and 5th seeds from each conference facing off in a best of three game series to see who got the privilege of taking on the number 1 seed in the next round. In 1977, they expanded the number of playoff teams to 12 while still utilizing the best of three 1st round series format. It wasn’t until the 1984 playoffs that the NBA expanded to the current number of 16 playoff teams and changed the best of three first round series to a best of five format. It stayed that way until 2003 when all playoff series were expanded to the present best of seven form we’re all now familiar with.

So, depending on when it could be possible to start playing again, the NBA could choose to cut the opening rounds of the playoffs to best of five - or even three - game series. Perhaps they might even cut the second round series down as well.

Of course, if the NBA does decide to go straight into the playoffs, that still spells the end of the Suns’ season. I don’t want to see that happen but I’m still a fan of the game of basketball and would hate it even more if there are zero NBA games to watch until the 2020-21 season begins. And then there’s this novel proposal that Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets has come up with which would guarantee at least a few more games for every team:

None of these possibilities are ideal but all seem more preferable options (at least to me) than just calling it quits with no basketball to look forward to between now and the beginning of next season.

There are plenty of options for the NBA to consider depending on how the present health crisis plays out. Hopefully an opportunity for the league to do something other than simply letting this season come to such an abrupt and premature end will eventually present itself.

Author’s Note: After completing this article, I saw these Tweets from Woj and Bobby Marks.

Eight weeks from the date of this CDC recommendation would be May 10th.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - What’s your opinion... will this season be completely canceled or just postponed?

GuarGuar: This whole situation is wild and it still hasn’t completely hit me that basketball is just gone. March Madness is my favorite sporting event and it hurts me that it’s cancelled (obviously the right decision though). I think eventually the NBA season will be played out in the late summer months. Probably like 5 regular season games and then straight into the playoffs. The Atlanta Hawks owner recently submitted a proposal for the NBA to move it’s opening night to December to combat the NFL ratings. I think it’s a very viable strategy now that we are on this hiatus. Would have been way more difficult to adjust to if the normal regular season ended in April. I think the league may resume near the summer and we have an NBA Finals around late July and August. Then the 2020-21 season begins in December.

Sun-Arc: Ultimately, the season will need to be completely cancelled. This is going to go on for months - maybe even into next season. I hope that isn’t the case, and I think there will be a decent chance things cool down by then. But, given the time it will take to produce a vaccine, it could be a long time before it makes sense to try to have teams compete again.

The reason why it probably makes no sense prior to the vaccine is every game would be wildly unpredictable on who would be available to play, and whether it would even be safe to attempt it. With how transmittable this virus is, the smart thing to do is wait until we know we can inoculate everyone (including us, the public). Until then, the NBA and other organizations are doing the right thing by shutting down completely. This needs to be slowed down as much as possible to keep from overloading our healthcare system and cratering the economy.

SDKyle: I think it’s likely the season will be canceled, though there is some hope it could resume under restrictions in a few weeks. Some NBA host cities are probably still going to have large gathering restrictions in place for as long as until June, so that may be a factor.

I think despite the money being lost, the NBA is going to be very cautious. The league has gotten much more image-conscious over the last decade, and I really doubt Adam Silver wants to become known as the guy whose greed for TV revenue ended up costing lives.

SouthernSun: Well that completely depends on how long the coronavirus situation lasts. Could be a couple weeks. Could be several months. We have no idea. If things are back to normal by the end of April, I could see them finishing the season. If this goes on for longer, they may cancel the rest of the season. Completely up in the air. I imagine they will try to finish out the season if possible. It would be a lot of lost revenue if they don’t.

Alex S: Postponed. I think you can tell the intentions of the league based off the dialogue Adam Silver has had (specifically during his interview with TNT) where they want to get the teams back out there. The timing of this crisis was ideal for the NBA, unlike the NCAA. I can see a world where the league shortens the regular season down to ~10 final games and starting the postseason closer to May.

It’s important to limit exposure as best as the league can now that Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have contracted the virus. Although this disease shouldn’t be deadly towards the NBA demographic, playing basketball and getting sweaty/close contact with other people isn’t an ideal way to avoid COVID-19. I will miss the NBA, but hey go read a book or something.

Q2 - If they do call an end to the regular season, do you think it’s possible that the NBA could still eventually have playoffs (with seeds based on the existing W/L records)?

GuarGuar: I would be pretty surprised if the NBA just flat out cancelled the season, but there is so much uncertainty that it’s still on the table. I think they could have just a playoffs if they wanted to, although would probably want some season games first. It would be pretty wild if players had 2+ months off and then boom you’re playing a playoff game. Then again, this whole situation is very wild.

Sun-Arc: If estimates are correct that it will be a year before there is a vaccine, I think this season’s playoff brackets will be long forgotten. Hopefully we have a vaccine by, say, Christmas - hopefully we can have a season for 20-21 and playoffs at the end while we happily forget about how 2019-20 season’s ended.

SDKyle: I think if play is all set to resume before May 15 or so the league will go forward with a playoffs despite the end to the regular season. It’s possible you could see the first round switched to best of 5 for brevity’s sake.

Either way this all comes down to public health. If there are still new cases and deaths happening on a large scale the league is going to err on the side of caution.

SouthernSun: Yes, even if they cancel the rest of the regular season, I fully expect the playoffs to eventually happen. Unless things get even worse than I expect them to.

Alex S: Yeah certainly.

There’s a sample size with this season (~65 games per team) that aligns perfectly with the lockout shortened season of 2012 (66 games). You’d have to think this will have a big effect on older teams or teams that were on a hot streak before the shutdown.

I believe the Lakers would be the team that will suffer the most out of all this, as they were on a tear before this delay in the season. A team that might benefit the most out of this to me would be the Rockets, who are banking on a small-ball strategy and were clearly getting worn down playing this style night-in, night-out.

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


Key Stats

All games - 110.2 OffRtg (16th), 110.2 DefRtg (19th), minus-1.0 NetRtg (3-way-tie 15th)

In Wins - 116.8 OffRtg (8th), 105.1 DefRtg (17th), 11.7 NetRtg (9th)

In Losses - 105.8 OffRtg (5th), 115.4 DefRtg (13th), minus-9.5 NetRtg (tie 5th)

I won’t even try to interpret the info above. I just thought it was interesting that the Suns had higher rankings in their losses (compared to other teams’ rankings in their losses) than in their wins.

Random Stats: The Suns are 10th in True Shooing percentage (57.2%) which is an efficiency metric that takes into account FG, 3-pt and FT attempts. The Suns are 1st in FTs (82.6%), tied for 11th in FGs (46.4%) and 19th in 3-pt shooting (35.3%).

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.


Game Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers - Full Game Highlights | March 10, 2020

Ricky Rubio 21 pts 6 rebs 9 asts vs Blazers

Devin Booker 29 pts 6 rebs 9 asts vs Blazers


Quote of the Week


Rookie Report

Cameron Johnson - 20.3 mpg, 8.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.6 TO, 1.5 PF, 39.7 3PT%

  • This week - DNP-Illness

Ty Jerome - 11.2 mpg, 3.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.6 TO, 1.0 PF, 27.7 3PT%

  • This week - 15.0 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 1.0 PF, 0.0 3PT%

Jalen Lecque - 6.6 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.3 TO, 0.5 PF, 0.0 3PT%

Tariq Owens - 5.1 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.3 PF, 0.0 3PT%

Jared Harper - 2.6 mpg, 0.7 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 0.0 3PT%

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Injury Status Report

Devin Booker (back) - Expected to be back when/if games resume.

Deandre Ayton (ankle) - Expected to be back when/if games resume.

Cameron Johnson (illness) - Expected to be out until at least March 31.

Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee) - Expected to be out until at least April 12.

Frank Kaminsky (kneecap) - Expected to be out until at least April 12.


News & Notes

ClippersPaul George addresses Suns’ Devin Booker’s Call of Duty game. Clutch Points

Former Phoenix Suns star Dan Majerle fired as Grand Canyon University coach after seven seasons. CBS Sports

Suns Will Mirror Season via NBA 2K20 Live Streams on Twitch. Suns.com

Suns great Charles Barkley tested for coronavirus after feeling ill. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Phoenix Suns increasing ticket prices next season, some up to 50% more. AZ Family


This Week in Suns History

On March 19, 1969, NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy flipped a coin, Phoenix called ‘heads’ and it turned up ‘tails’. Thus, Milwaukee chose first in the NBA Draft, selecting Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) while Phoenix picked Neal Walk.

On March 22, 2000, the Phoenix Suns lost Jason Kidd for the remainder of the regular season after he broke his ankle in a 114-93 win over Sacramento at America West Arena. The following day the Suns announced that Kevin Johnson was coming out of retirement to help his former team in its time of need. Johnson was 34 and had not played since the 1997-98 season.


Suns Trivia

During the summer of 1969, the Suns were part of another NBA coin flip. While they lost the flip that gave the 1st pick in the NBA Draft to Milwaukee, Phoenix actually won the 2nd coin toss between them and the Seattle SuperSonics to determine which team would get the right to sign Connie Hawkins. Hawkins had previously been unfairly blackballed by the NBA but finally won the right to join the league after filing a $6 million lawsuit against the them.

Mikal Bridges has played in every regular game the Suns have played (147) since he was drafted. He has started in 54.4% of his games played and averaged 28.5 minutes per game.


Previewing the Week Ahead


Important Future Dates

To be determined.


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “How important is it for Deandre Ayton to become a threat from 3-point range?”

32.5% - Very important.

41.5% - Somewhat important.

26.0% - Not important if he can dominate inside.

There were 240 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

Do you believe that the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season (including the playoffs) will be completely canceled?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Yes.
    (69 votes)
  • 48%
    No.
    (66 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now