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Center of the Sun: Suns finally in Orlando prepping for 2019-20 season Part 2

The Suns’ season resumes in 18 days.

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NBA Restart 2020 - All-Access Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Just under a week ago, the NBA’s Orlando “bubble” opened for business. 22 teams entered and began prepping for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

The Suns were among the first teams to arrive and all signs are that they are in high spirits and excited to get back to the business of playing NBA basketball again. That means practice, practice and more practice for the time being. As Dave King reported yesterday, the Suns went all out on Saturday with their first five-on-five workout which left everyone exhausted.

So far, so good.

Some might be concerned that the Suns cancelled their scheduled practice on Sunday but I’m betting that Monty Williams decided to give everyone’s sore muscles a day of rest following the first really hard practice anyone’s had in quite a while. Pushing too hard, too soon is a recipe for injuries.

Any time a practice is canceled, fans will be concerned though as the number one question tied to the re-start is still whether the “bubble” can/will maintain integrity and keep the COVID-19 virus on the outside. A lot of that is on the players’ and team staffs’ willingness to live by the strict rules of their artificial environment. While I’m sure some will be tempted to test the bubble’s boundaries to seek some non-approved entertainment, the fact that the state of Florida remains a COVID-19 hot spot might actually work in the NBA’s favor in a way. The more likely it is to contract the virus outside the bubble might work as a stronger deterrent to those tempted to break the isolation protocols.

Of course, we’re still at the beginning and anything can happen between now and October when this season’s Finals are expected to be played. Sadly, the Suns won’t be there that long and will likely only have to live in the bubble for another 5 weeks until the seeding games are over. That’s not a knock on them. If the Suns were starting out on even footing with the other four Western Conference teams that will be trying to make it to the play-in stage, I’d like their chances but, as it is, their fate is not in their own hands. They could win all eight seeding games and still would need all the other teams competing to get to the play-in stage to play badly for them to win out over everyone else.

I like the lottery odds better than the odds on the Suns playing more than 8 games in Orlando but I still want to see them play again. I’m also very curious to see whether the bubble will work for more than a short period of time. If it does, we’re one step closer to seeing the 2020-21 season possibly beginning this December. If it doesn’t, then we might be in for a much longer wait.

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - The Suns will be underdogs in every game in Orlando except against Washington who will be without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans. Which of the other six teams that they will play do you think could be the biggest upset victim of the Suns?

GuarGuar: I could see us upsetting the Clippers again like we did in the beginning of the season. They don’t have anybody who can guard Ayton. Not having Kelly would definitely hurt our wing defense against Kawhi/PG but we can still do it. When this team really clicks during a game they can beat anyone. They’ve proven that.

Sun-Arc: Any and all of them? The wizards may not be an easy out in the first game- its so hard to know who will be more prepared. If I had to pick one, I’d say the Clippers and/or 76ers since we beat them each early on in the season. If we have any chance of playing beyond those 8 games, we have to beat everyone, so... thinking those are the biggest upset victims.

In reality, I’d say the Mavs up front, since we play them well. That may end up being the last game we win. Hope not, but possible.

SDKyle: I think the Thunder could be primed to lose to the Suns. It’s based more on my gut than on anything concrete. The Suns are indeed underdogs on paper in all but the Wizards game.

SouthernSun: The Mavericks. The Suns seem to take care of business when they play the Mavs. Book cancels out Luka’s scoring with his own and Ayton always seems to have a fire under him for the game. The Suns have a serious chance at beating those guys if the Mavs role players don’t heat up from three.

Alex S: The two teams that I feel most confident about would be Dallas and Philly. For some reason I feel as though the Suns match up well against these two.

Q2 - Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are hopefully the future of this team. What stat numbers would you like to see them put up in Orlando?

GuarGuar: If Booker just puts up his season average points and efficiency I will be very happy. 62 TS% is really fantastic, so if he replicates that in Orlando that’s a very very good sign. For Ayton, I want over 20 PPG. It’s time for him to start taking a scoring jump. There’s probably no Oubre to take that secondary usage.

Sun-Arc: Booker being a scoring force at his best would be great to see, and would probably need to be for the Suns to win. Ayton needs to be dominant for them as well, for the team to have a chance. The numbers I am “predicting” are not he high side of realistically possible, for hope’s sake.

PPG / rbpg / apg / stl / blk

Booker - 35 / 6 / 8 / 1 / .5

Ayton - 28 / 12 / 4 / 1 / 2.5

SDKyle: I’d like to see them both average over 20 points efficiently. Ayton needs to emerge as the clear go-to non-Booker scorer, rather than letting Oubre assume that role. The ability of both guys to get theirs every night is key to the Suns’ future.

SouthernSun: I want to see Devin put up 30ppg and 7apg with efficient shooting. 40+% from three would be looking really good. I don’t even think those are outlandish expectations.

If Ayton gives us 20 and 12 with 1.5 blocks I’ll be happy. If he increases those blocks to 2bpg I’ll be even happier. If he hits a few threes and shoots over 33% from distance I’ll be attempting to build a time machine to fast forward to next season already so I can see more.

Alex S: I could see Devin gunning for 30ppg. DA 20/10 would be nice. So I’ll be optimistic... here’s my guess:

Devin Booker - 31.1/3.8/5.7 on 48/37/89 splits.

Deandre Ayton - 22.6/11.9/2.2 BPG on 54/16/82 (please shoot a few threes)

Q3 - Kelly Oubre Jr. has suddenly become a “maybe” for the Suns in Orlando. Do you think he will play at some point during the 8 seeding games?

GuarGuar: It’s been a pretty weird situation quite frankly. Weeks ago both Sarver and Jones told the media that Oubre is healthy and will be playing in Orlando. Then we got that Shams report a couple days later saying that Oubre is sitting out. Kelly has been at our practices and reportedly looks good. I don’t think Kelly plays, for financial reasons. He is probably fully healthy but it just makes more sense for his own interests to sit out this 8 game stretch.

Sun-Arc: I’m so unclear on Oubre’s status. I have no idea if he will be healthy enough in time to play in the first 8 games. From a time-since-surgery standpoint its possible, but doesn’t seem wise if he hasn’t had proper physical therapy. On the other hand, he does seem super-human at times, so maybe he’s fine. The confusion must be by team design to throw off opposing teams. My guess is he isn’t playing but they are saying he might. I also guess he will be there for moral support only.

SDKyle: He’s probably in wait-and-see mode. He wouldn’t subject himself to the bubble if he didn’t intend to try to play, but I think he’s waiting to see how he feels and if it will matter.

SouthernSun: Maybe he got a stern talking to from James Jones. Maybe they plan on trading him and want him to play to show he’s healed and get his value back up to pre injury levels. Or perhaps they plan on keeping him and want him to show solidarity with the others and their goal of attempting to shock the league and somehow make the playoffs. Maybe after a couple of games he will feel healthy enough and join in the fun. Especially if the Suns are rolling.

Alex S: Considering Kelly is working out and even went to Orlando I could see him playing if the Suns get off to a good start. I highly doubt he’ll play in game 1 but let’s say the Suns start 3-1 and are only 5 games from the 8 seed... I could see him getting anxious and wanting to play!

Not entirely sure how James Jones and Monty feel so it’s hard to fully judge the situation.

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

2019-20 Season Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz - Full Game Highlights | February 24, 2020

Ricky Rubio vs Jazz (24/2/2020) PTS: 22 | REB: 6 | AST: 11 | STL: 7

Devin Booker Full Play vs Utah Jazz | PTS: 24 | REB: 4 | AST: 10

Kelly Oubre Jr. Full Play vs Utah Jazz | PTS: 18 | REB: 3 | AST: 2 | STL: 1 | BLK: 1

Quotes of the Week

“It’s us against the world and that’s the best feeling in the world to me.” - Deandre Ayton

“This team is full of young guys who are hungry who really want to play every game.” - Dario Saric

Interesting Suns Stuff

News & Notes

Kelly Oubre Jr.’s status a mystery after reportedly being out for Orlando. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Phoenix Suns showing excitement in NBA restart preparations. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic

The Whiteboard: Cameron Payne’s chance to prove himself with Suns. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back

NBA bubble food in Orlando ‘not that bad’ according to Suns’ Williams. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Devin Booker unhappy with Phoenix for not pursuing D’Angelo Russell in 2019. Clutch Points

Young & Hungry.

This Week in Suns History

On July 14, 2004, the Suns signed unrestricted free agency point guard Steve Nash to a six-year, $66 million deal to bring their former 1996 1st round draft pick home after trading him to Dallas in 1998 for Pat Garrity, Martin Müürsepp, Bubba Wells and a 1999 1st round draft pick.

On July 18, 1999, Joe Proski, the Phoenix Suns’ only trainer in it’s history to that point, retired, following 32 years with the franchise, 40 years in professional sports, and 41 years as a trainer. His career spanned 2,789 games, including playoffs.

On July 19, 2001, the Phoenix Suns re-signed Dan Majerle to a one-year, $1 million contract. Seven years earlier Majerle was traded to Cleveland for John “Hot Rod” Williams, a move the Colangelo’s later regretted.

Classic Suns Highlights

Shawn Marion Mix

Raja Bell Mix

Suns Trivia

The 1999 1st round draft pick (9th) that Phoenix acquired from Dallas in the Steve Nash trade was later used to select Shawn Marion.

Also in the 1999 Draft, Raja Bell who would one day become a key contributor during the Suns’ SSOL era went undrafted. Bell hit on 42.2% of his three point attempts in Phoenix while averaging 5.8 attempts per game and made the NBA’s All-Defensive 1st team in 2006-07 and the 2nd team in 2007-08.

Previewing the Week Ahead

Training camp continues in Orlando.

Important Future Dates

July 23 - Suns vs Jazz inter-squad scrimmage 5:00 PM AZT

July 26 - Suns vs Celtics inter-squad scrimmage 10:30 AM AZT

July 28 - Suns vs Raptors inter-squad scrimmage Noon AZT

July 30 - August 14 - Seeding games.

August 15-16 - Possible play-in tournaments.

August 17 - Start of postseason.

August 25 - NBA Draft Lottery.

August 30 - Guests/family members permitted to arrive.

August 31 to September 13 - Conference Semifinals.

September 15-28 - Conference Finals.

September 30 to October 13 - NBA Finals.

October 16 - NBA Draft.

October 18 - Free agency begins.

October 23 - Moratorium ends (noon).

November 10 - Target for opening day for 2020-21 season training camps.

December 1 - Target for 2020-21 season opening night.

Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “Do you want the inter-squad scrimmages to also be televised?”

84% - Yes.

16% - I don’t really care about those.

A total of 107 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


Do you think that Kelly Oubre Jr. will play at some point in Orlando?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    (29 votes)
  • 48%
    Only if they somehow make it to the play-in games/playoffs.
    (47 votes)
  • 20%
    (20 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now

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