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Center of the Sun: The Suns are heading East this week for a training camp re-start

If the scheduled inter-squad scrimmages are televised, we’ll be watching the Suns in action again in just under three weeks!

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Tomorrow the Suns will board a plane and head to Orlando for what amounts to the longest road trip in franchise history. They’ll be there at least just a day or two short of six weeks and play at least 11 games including the three inter-squad scrimmages.

Those scrimmages will basically be more preseason games in which we’ll likely get to see a fair amount of the newest Sun, Cameron Payne, getting a chance to prove he’s worthy of court time when the games that count begin. We’ll also get a look the new and improved Cameron Johnson who is said to have worked hard to add some muscle to his lean frame since March 11.

The outcomes won’t count in those first three games but the Suns will face some pretty stiff competition in them which should provide us with some good shows. The Jazz, Celtics and Raptors are all quality teams. It hasn’t been confirmed that these game will be on TV yet but according to Marc L. Spears:

Told that it’s possible that scrimmages can be televised, but it’s a work in progress.

With the season already shortened, I’m betting that the regional sports providers will be glad to add three more games to their scheduled programming.

Monty Williams has already indicated that we may see some surprises in Orlando and I’m sure we’ll get a glimpse of some in the scrimmage games but he might decide to save a surprise or two for the games that really count. Deandre Ayton has said that he’s put a lot of work in on his three point shot and I’d like to see him fire away from the very beginning. If he can hit them at a respectable percentage, it gives other teams one more thing to worry about. If he doesn’t... better to find out during the scrimmage games than during the important ones.

The big question on my mind is, “How sharp the Suns will be after such a long layoff?” Not only have they not played together for months, they haven’t played at all. The pass-happy Suns were leading the league in assists (27.2 per game) before the shutdown and I wonder if their ball movement will be anywhere near as crisp as it was. They were also averaging 15.1 turnovers per game (21st in the NBA) and I’d hate to see the assists go down and the TOs go up.

Some rust will certainly be there for every team and that will be yet another obstacle to overcome. Of course, the biggest obstacle for the Suns will compensating for Kelly Oubre Jr.’s absence. Hopefully, how the Suns plan to overcome that will be one of the more pleasant surprises that Monty has tucked away.

We’ll all get the opportunity to see for ourselves in just 17 days.

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - What’s your opinion of the Suns signing Cameron Payne (and of him)?

GuarGuar: My view on the signing completely depends on if we actually use him in the rotation. Payne’s been a very bad player his entire career and there was a reason he wasn’t on a roster. If we are signing him just to have on the end of our bench and a practice body, then I’m all for it. He should not see the floor unless we are blowing a team out or getting blown out in the 4th quarter.

Sun-Arc: Feels like the team is taking another flyer on a G-league player to me. Payne hasn’t been able to do anything in the real NBA besides have a couple of good games and tear up the G-league. Reminds me of Archie Goodwin to a degree. Do I think its possible he turns into a reliable backup PG? Yeah, sure. Maybe. He looks good in his highlight reels, but I remember him being forgettable during real games. I really hope he turns out to be that much better than Jevon Carter, but right now I doubt it.

Therefore I hope Payne’s second year is not guaranteed in the contract and they can still re-sign Carter if no other better options come up.

SDKyle: I’m not expecting much of Cameron Payne, but I guess I’m glad the Suns at least did something in terms of bringing someone in. Payne has some decent talent buried in him that he never managed to adjust to the NBA game, and he’s not likely to be less playable than Okobo.

SouthernSun: I just hope he’s better than Elie and Ty. Maybe signing him means one of them isn’t coming, or maybe it means Jones and Monty feel he is better than those two. It’s not hard to be better than them, so I suppose I’m optimistic. I would much prefer the backup guard spots be filled by Jevon and him than tweedle brick and tweedle turnover.

Alex S: I honestly don’t have much of an opinion on him. There is the slightest chance that he could be one of those mid 20’s reclamation projects that work out due to the fact he plays for a good coach with some of his draft classmates (Booker, Kaminsky, Oubre).

There’s also way higher odds this signing is meaningless and the backup PG position continues to be a problem for Phoenix.

Q2 - Deandre Ayton says he’s shooting threes like a “middy” now. Do you think we’ll see him shoot threes more often in Orlando?

GuarGuar: Deandre Ayton has talked a lot about his 3 point shot for the past year. It was a major hype thing on Suns social media during training camp. I don’t know what to take away from him shooting 3s like a “middy” now. He really can’t shoot 3s any less then he was doing, so I guess by default we should see some more attempts from him in Orlando. There’s a lot of discussion on BSotS about how Ayton just needs to focus on his inside game. And while that is very important, I do think him becoming a capable 3 point threat unlocks a new level to his upside. We’ve seen what Baynes’ spacing has done for Rubio and Booker at times this year.

Sun-Arc: Last summer we heard he was shooting threes too. I’m not buying it until I see it with Ayton. I just hope he takes no steps backward in his progression this season, and that he shows up trying to dominate.

But on the subject; I’m not one of the people that believes he NEEDS to shoot threes to be “great.” It would definitely help if he were a threat from outside. At the same time, we need him to rebound too- so I hope if he is shooting threes it is within planned schemes where Saric or someone else can collect the offensive rebounds during the play.

SDKyle: Maybe. I’d like to see him at least attempt three or four, particularly if left open. I don’t want Ayton to turn into the Cavs version of Kevin Love, but the two elements his offense is currently missing are the three ball and the ability to get to the line. May as well use this weird stretch of games to work on one of them.

SouthernSun: Yes, I expect them to try and make use of his new confidence in the shot in Orlando. It’s a great chance to try it out, since we aren’t really expecting them to do much but make a little noise. Stress free.

Alex S: I better see him shoot at least three total 3’s in Orlando or else I am going to have an incredibly difficult time believing anything that comes out of his mouth.

Unrelated, but go check out the interview that Jonathan Givony did with DA over the weekend - Deandre sounds very smart with his bball IQ which is a very encouraging sign.

Q3 - Monty Williams said, “You may see some things that are a bit different, but that’s not just for the sake of being different, it’s because we want to win games.” What differences would you like to see in Orlando?

GuarGuar: Well if he wants to win games then Elie Okobo should not be seeing any minutes in the rotation. Carter has been way better than him. I’ve seen talk about how he doesn’t want to play starters more than 34 minutes. I don’t necessarily know if I believe that. If we’re truly competing for a playoff spot early on in this restart, then Booker, Ayton and Mikal should be seeing big minutes. Monty has also talked during this off time that he wants to go more Point Booker. I am very much for that when Ricky is off the floor. I’d love to see a Booker-Carter-Mikal-Cam-Baynes type of 2nd unit with great spacing.

Sun-Arc: My first thought when I read that quote was, “Wait, you were not trying to win games during the rest of the season?” But I get the meaning. Its not just to try something new, they think they’ve made some improvements. I really hope one of those changes is shortened rotations with less-to-no Jerome or Okobo. I’d like to see more offense run through Ayton and let his gravity pull defenders away from the perimeter for open shots. I’d also like to see more effective PnR with Ayton from Rubio and Booker. It was there in some games, but felt like it could be a lot more smooth at times.

SDKyle: I’d like to see them try to run the BOBRA lineup as much as possible, while relying as little as possible on any bench players other than Saric, Cam Johnson, and Aron Baynes. Some Jevon Carter in small doses is okay too. But down the stretch either Ty Jerome or Okobo (or both) were getting meaningful burn in game after game. I don’t want to see that.

SouthernSun: More threes. A lot more threes. More Book and Ayton pick and rolls. Ayton shooting threes. Ayton playing a little point five and making those passes we know he can make. Ayton putting the ball on the floor a little more. Mikal bombing from three more. Mikal cutting to the basket more. More shots for Mikal in general. Booker taking like nine threes a game. No Elie. No Ty. Huge minutes for the starting 5. Less juggling of rotations. Big minutes for Cam Johnson. Jevon and Payne getting every last guard minute not taken by Rubio, Book, and Bridges. Did I mention no Elie or Ty?

Alex S: Consistent energy, continue to share the ball, and for the love of god it’d be great to see some decent three point shooting. I really will be watching Cam Johnson closely if Oubre is officially out for the whole Orlando experience.

Let’s hope our guys can end this season strong and build towards a playoff push next season!

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

SUNS at KINGS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 28, 2019

Devin Booker 32 Pts Full Highlights | Suns vs Kings | December 28, 2019

Kelly Oubre Jr. Full Play vs Sacramento Kings | 20 pts, 15 rebs

Ricky Rubio. PTS: 21 | REB: 3 | AST: 8 | Phoenix Suns vs Sacramento Kings

Quotes of the Week

“We’re a young team building a program. It would not help us at all to sit from March until maybe December, January.” - Monty Williams

“Because of the guys’ ability to commit to the program and work their butts off, we’re in the bubble and that’s an accomplishment. It’s not the one we want, but it’s an accomplishment and a step.” - Monty Williams

Interesting Suns Stuff

News & Notes

Monty Williams: “We have a lot to gain from being in Orlando”. Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated

2019-20 Rookie Review: Remember Trashing The Cam Johnson Pick? Matt Esposito/The Playgrounder

Suns Williams “blown away” by Cam Johnson since returning from break. Kellan Olsen/Arizaona Sports

Deandre Ayton: Suns welcome doubters in playoff chase. Andrew Lopez/ESPN

“Forget Micky”.

This Week in Suns History

On July 11, 2015, Devin Booker made his NBA Summer League debut for the Suns in Las Vegas against the Washington Wizards. He had a 12 points and 4 rebounds on a disappointing shooting night making only 4 of 11 shots and missing all four of his three point attempts. Booker’s teammate-of-the-future and fellow rookie, Kelly Oubre Jr. also had his Summer League debut that night and led the Wizards with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Archie Goodwin led Phoenix in scoring with 22 points in the 86-77 Summer Suns win.

Classic Suns Highlights

Amare Stoudemire Rookie Highlights

Amar’e Stoudemire - Total Destruction

Suns Trivia

Former Sun Alan Williams grabbed 21 rebounds during a 2015 Summer League game which is the second most rebounds in a single game in Summer League history. Alan played for the Houston Rockets summer league team that year after going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Previewing the Week Ahead

July 7 - Teams travel to Orlando.

July 9 - Training camps begin.

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 “Would it be at least moderately satisfying if the Suns could finish the season with a better record than one or more of the other WC bubble teams?”

88% - Yes.

12% - No.

A total of 97 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


Do you want the inter-squad scrimmages to also be televised?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    (90 votes)
  • 16%
    I don’t really care about those.
    (18 votes)
108 votes total Vote Now

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