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Center of the Sun: A little innovation can spark a lot of motivation to Suns

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Only five more Suns games with zero chances of playing more just doesn’t sound very appealing.

Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Before the NBA season was suspended back on March 11, the Suns were (and still are) 6 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th seed in the West with just 17 games left to play. Most fans had already stashed away their faded early season playoff hopes even before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the season (and almost everything else) to a screeching halt. There was just no way that anyone could expect the once again injury plagued Suns to dig themselves out of the hole they were in with so few games left to play.

But they were not yet mathematically eliminated. As a matter of fact, only one team (Golden State) in either conference had already been mathematically eliminated.

While it was extremely unlikely that the Suns could have fought their way back into contention for that 8th playoff seed, I personally would have liked them to at least have had that opportunity. If the NBA does as they’ve indicated and returns to play just enough regular season games to get each team up to a total of 70 for the season, the Suns will be automatically mathematically eliminated before they set foot on the court.

That just doesn’t sit well with me and I doubt it would sit very well with many fans of other teams that would also automatically be eliminated.

Hopefully, the NBA realizes this and is working on some way to avoid it. I’m sure that the owners of most of the teams that would be left out would also love for at least a slim chance of something more than just a handful of nearly meaningless games to end this season. And the local networks that would be broadcasting most of those games would also love some sort of added encouragement to ensure the fans tune back in.

The solution could be as simple as expanding the playoffs this year by way of a single elimination tournament played by the bottom 8 teams in each conference to determine which one of the eight would earn the 8th seed. It could certainly be much more elaborate than that but even something as simple as this would be preferable to five meaningless games and... nothing.

There is no perfect solution but that doesn’t mean that the NBA shouldn’t get creative and attempt to find one. They proved they’re willing to try new things when they used the “Elam Ending” in this year’s All-Star game and it seemed to work out extremely well.

Come on, NBA. Be bold, be innovative and add a little extra excitement to the end of this season/the beginning of the playoffs.


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Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - As the playoffs are most likely going to be played in a single location (Orlando is the present front runner), do you think this would be a good time for the NBA to experiment with using only the season records determining playoff seeds 1-16 (where the conferences are ignored)?

With the current W/L records, the first round of the playoffs would feature these matchups:

  1. Milwaukee vs 16. Orlando
  2. LA Lakers vs 15. Brooklyn
  3. Toronto vs 14. Memphis
  4. LA Clippers vs 13. Dallas
  5. Boston vs 12. Philadelphia
  6. Denver vs 11. Indiana
  7. Utah vs 10. Houston
  8. Miami vs 9. OKC

GuarGuar: I think it would be a great idea to experiment with seedings. Now is the time to try new things/ideas with this wonky situation. I’ve wanted a 1-16 seeding for a very long time because the West is so stacked. I don’t think it will happen but I’m 100% for it.

Sun-Arc: I hope the NBA would (if any games happen) actually use this moment to do something really different for the sake of making something fun out of a scary crisis. They were lauded for closing down when/how they did- which really triggered a great response from much of the rest of the nation (outside of bodies of government). I’d like to see them “wow” people in a positive way.

Seeding 1-16 regardless of conference could be a decent start, but not as exciting as a real tournament with all 30 games. I could see a 5-game warm up before going to a single-game play-in tourney like I described last time. Having just one-game series in the playoffs would be so much fun to see. I’d acquiesce on the Finals to see a 3-game series there. Maybe a team like the Suns or Memphis make it further than expected. That would be exciting and so much fun to see.

SDKyle: I don’t especially like ignoring conferences. I guess I’m potentially ok with it this one time as a “what the hell... coronavirus” measure, but not as an “experiment” to explore doing away with conference-based seeding altogether.

I think if the league were to do this in the future, it would only make sense to abolish the conferences and divisions entirely and try to smooth the schedules so that teams play the east and west coast teams a more even number of times. Otherwise, I don’t see it making sense.

SouthernSun: No, I do not like that option at all, because the Suns wouldn’t be able to make it into the playoffs. I want a 30 team play-in tourney. That would be the best. Or... top 4 seeds safe from each conference, but a play in tourney for the other 4 spots.

Alex S: I don’t think it’s a good time to experiment considering this concept of an Orlando all-NBA tournament would ignore the biggest factor in a playoff format like this long term: travel. The actual product would be fun to watch but this wouldn’t feel like a real trail and error situation if everyone is going to be playing in the same city.

There’s already going to be so much change and adding even more change doesn’t seem ideal to me.

Q2 - If the NBA decides to only play enough regular season games for each team to play a total of 70 games this season, that would mean only 5 more games for the Suns and would automatically rule them out of any possibility for postseason play. Would 5 more mostly meaningless Suns games (without fans in attendance) be worth playing?

GuarGuar: From a financial standpoint it’s worth it. I would watch all 5 games of course, as I’m sure most people here would. It sucks that we wouldn’t be competing for anything, but that’s normally how April is for us anyway. I hope we wouldn’t bench guys to tank though. We need to keep a solid culture.

Sun-Arc: I have ZERO interest in seeing the Suns play only five more games for this season. Particularly because the first few games all teams will play will be rusty and lousy.

SDKyle: Nah, it’s kinda pointless. I know some people will say that every game Booker Ayton and Rubio can play together is valuable, but I think that value is pretty small. Especially when you weigh it against the risk of injury just to play five meaningless games. I wouldn’t be upset if they do get to play, but I don’t think there’s much point to it either.

SouthernSun: I have 0 interest in 5 more meaningless regular season games. Give me a play-in tourney! The fairest thing to do would probably be have a play-in tourney for all teams not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The team that plays the Warriors can move on in the tourney, but the Warriors can’t. Or Warriors don’t play at all.

Alex S: I know a lot of people are saying it’s pointless but I like what Frank Kaminsky had to say this Thursday. 5 games is really important to end the season on a positive note along with getting an additional training camp/practice opportunity to evaluate your personnel heading into next season.

I miss watching Kelly Oubre trying to dunk on everybody, Devin having a 20+ point quarter, and watching DA grow on the defensive end each game. I even miss all the headaches this franchise gives me.

Q3 - ESPN recently ran a two-part article where they picked the all-time starting five for every NBA team. Their choices for Phoenix were:

  • G: Steve Nash
  • G: Kevin Johnson
  • F: Walter Davis
  • F: Charles Barkley
  • C: Amar’e Stoudemire

What’s your opinion of their selections?

GuarGuar: I’m fine with the list. It makes sense. When we made our all-time lists weeks ago I had 4 of these guys and Marion over KJ. I understand putting KJ over Marion though. Not a bad list at all.

Sun-Arc: Not a bad list. I didn’t get to watch Davis play, so my inclination is to replace him with Marion - who would be amazing next to Barkley and KJ.

SDKyle: I think that’s a pretty good starting five...fairly similar to what most of us on the fantable produced a few weeks ago. When you’re condensing a team’s 50+ year history into five players it’s hard to balance out that history across the roster and try to include all the best players. I think one could make an argument for Connie Hawkins over Walter Davis there at the other forward slot, but I can also see going with Walt. Overall it’s a good starting five.

SouthernSun: G: Steve Nash - Of course I’m board with this. I think all of us think of Steve Nash as the best PG in Suns history, and probably top 5 at his position in NBA history. No problem there.

G: Kevin Johnson - I want to put Devin Booker here so bad... I really do, but I can’t. Not yet. KJ was that guy, and is one of the best Suns of all time.

F: Walter Davis - I would probably change this to Marion. The Matrix did it all. He deserves this spot. That may be “recency bias” for someone that hasn’t played for the Suns in like 13 years, but still.

F: Charles Barkley - Nobody should dispute this. Got an MVP when Air Jordan was at the height of his powers.

C: Amar’e Stoudemire - The Apostrophe’d One. STAT. Batman Steve Nash’s gigantic Robin. He deserves this spot too, I believe, but I also never saw Alvan Adams play.

Alex S: I like their selections, but I would rather start Marion at the 3. I had Booker in my original starting 5 but I love him as a 6th man who could play alongside JKidd off the bench. Davis was a bad man though.

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


2019-20 Season Highlights

Philadelphia 76ers vs Phoenix Suns - Full Game Highlights | November 4, 2019

Phoenix Suns ALL-DEFENSE Highlights vs Philadelphia 76ers

Devin Booker burns the Sixers for 40 points as the Suns stay hot

Ricky Rubio: 21 PTS, 10 AST, 7 REB | Phoenix Suns vs Philadelphia Sixers


Quote of the Week

“It’s really cool. Obviously this is an old building but it’s got a historic feel to it. It’s definitely different than any NBA arena I’ve been in. I’m kind of fascinated by the engineering of this building.” - Frank Kaminsky on the Madhouse on McDowell


News & Notes

Suns could still make playoffs in reported return-to-play scenarios. Torrence Dunham/Arizona Sports

Channing Frye and Jared Dudley Reconnect with Suns Fans on Valley Chatz. Suns.com

How Suns could fit in with NBA’s desire to reach altered 70-game season. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Phoenix Suns. Hoops Rumors

Aron Baynes has reinvented his game once again. Hoops Habit

When will NBA return? A Q&A on where, what will it look like, how to watch. NBC Sports


This Week in Suns History

On May 25, 1993, Charles Barkley won the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player. Barkley, who helped lead the Phoenix Suns to a franchise and NBA-best 62-20 record during the 1992-93 season, averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 76 games.

On May 30, 1976, rookie center Alvan Adams scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 105-98 Game 3 victory over Boston in the NBA Finals.


Classic Suns Highlights

Stephon Marbury Phoenix Suns Highlights | Hip Hop Hooray

Stephon Marbury 26 Pts 6 Ast @ Spurs Gm1, 2003 Playoffs. GAME-WINNER!


Suns Trivia

Stephon Marbury was only with the Suns for 2.5 seasons but still left his name in the Phoenix record books. Marbury is 2nd all-time in minutes per game (39.8), 4th in assists per game (8.1) and 6th in points per game (21.3). He’s also 4th in assist percentage (36.0) behind Steve Nash (46.4), Jason Kidd (39.6) and Kevin Johnson (39.4).

  • Note: Ricky Rubio has averaged 8.9 assists and has a 39.9 assist percentage in his 57 games as a Sun but players must have played at least 100 games with a franchise before their stats are included in the all-time rankings according to BBRef.com.

Previewing the Weeks Ahead


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “The NBA will restart the 2019-20 season in...”

56% - July.

12% - August.

32% - It’s done and won’t restart.

There were 81 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

Should the NBA come up with a plan to somehow expand the playoffs to include more than 16 teams this year?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Yes.
    (94 votes)
  • 13%
    No.
    (15 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now