Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Suns team.
First up... the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Phoenix Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - On Media Day Monty Williams said, “I think if you, at least in my mind, think you deserve the right to go back to the Finals, that’s irresponsible. For us, it can go back to ground zero if you don’t skip steps.” What are your thoughts on this?
GuarGuar: I think it’s good to feel like we are capable of making the Finals. We absolutely have no right though, I agree with Monty. Many people feel we only got there do to injuries of other teams. We still have a lot to prove.
Sun-Arc: “Do not get happy on the farm…” as Monty says. I agree you cannot assume you will get, or deserve to be there. But you have to believe you CAN get there with a lot of hard work. Set a plan, figure out the path towards the goal, and work at it every day. That is the sense I’ve gotten from this team and I hope it works.
SouthernSun: I certainly don’t think the Suns “deserve” the right to go back to the Finals, and I assume the players feel the same way. But I understand what he’s getting at. Don’t approach next season thinking you’ve got it all figured out and that you’re going to walk on the court and blow out other teams. We have seen the Suns do that in the regular season last year, and they got their butts handed to them. Suns don’t have have several superstars to throw at the other team offensively like the Nets. Or otherworldly forces like LeBron and AD. They have to play the right way on both ends, moving the ball around, and playing great defense, hustling, scratching, clawing for every win. That’s how they can make it back to the Finals this coming season.
Alex S: Look at the history of Finals appearances and what the following year looks like… there’s no entitlement. If anything, the path only gets harder as the Suns are no longer under the radar.
The thing is, that’s okay! The Suns are bringing back a very talented roster and an even higher level of continuity than last season so the group will put the work in to get back on the biggest stage.
Rod: The Suns had a great 2020-21 season... but that’s over and means nothing in respect to this season. The have the potential to get back to the Finals this year but we’ve all seen players with high potential flame out and fail. The reasons for that were often mental so without the proper attitude, that same thing can happen to a team. The Suns will have to fight to get back to the big stage and they need to go into this season with the same mindset that had last season, trying to pile up wins without looking any further ahead than their next game.
Q2 - Jae Crowder admitted that there were times last season when he felt “not there” mentally and his brain was “fried” due to the pace of the schedule and the very short offseason he had. Monty Williams said, “We’re going to be as smart as we can with those (older) guys” when the short offseason was brought up. What do you think would be the best way to deal with this potential problem?
GuarGuar: I think it would be very smart for us to rest CP3 more this year. He played a lot during the regular season last year. I think now that we’ve established ourselves and have good PG depth (Payne/Payton), we can rest him a lot more on back to backs and such.
Sun-Arc: I hope and expect the team to have some rotating rests for players - particularly the two older starters. This may possibly also include Booker, who carries such a heavy load. For instance:
I would hold out CP3 out of a game for each B2B. We’ve got quite a few this season (again), which means this should be enough to “save” Chris for the post-season. Maybe one alternates Crowder’s missed games as the other B2B. With Booker, I think it could be by matchup against weaker teams. Same could go for the older guys instead of missing B2B games; though playing two games in a row for older players just seems tough.
SouthernSun: Cam Johnson getting more minutes. Or if a trade for Thad goes through, having Thad take a number of them. Certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have more options. I think either of those would be a good idea, but I prefer the one that gives the Suns another look and another good player they can heap more minutes onto when necessary. It would probably be a good idea to rest some of the vets towards the end of the season. They didn’t this past season, but it would be in their best interest to do so this year.
Alex S: I believe the Suns have to utilize DNPs this year for the vets, including Booker. The majority of this group has not dealt with such a long basketball season in their entire life so the biggest key to this regular season will be managing health.
The good news is the depth and talent is high enough where an injury or two will not derail this team’s season. However, it’d be foolish not to prepare for this reality to happen. I’d love to see more minutes for Payne, Johnson, and Shamet this season, for example. Less minutes for Chris and Jae and some rest days for Devin as alluded to.
Rod: I’m glad that Jae brought up the mental exhaustion aspect because I think too often people often tend to focus only on the physical toll an NBA season takes on players. I’d like to see Monty take measures to make sure players don’t get burned out early in the season.
The younger guys are likely able to handle the physical part of it but I’d like to see all of the main rotation guys getting some rest starting early in the season when possible. I don’t think that Monty can begin this too early and, thankfully, the Suns have an even deeper bench than last season which should help him keep everyone as fresh as possible throughout the season. Give the deep bench players as many minutes as they can handle whenever possible.
Q3 - Do you think that Devin Booker missing the beginning of training camp could be beneficial to the team in some ways?
GuarGuar: I don’t think it’s going to have much of any effect. Actually it might hurt us not running our normal stuff through him like we will during the regular season. We want continuity so we can have a much faster start to the season than last year.
Sun-Arc: Booker missing the first few games will be a mixed bag. It will give Shamet more minutes to get into the offense and defense, which is good. Though it will likely delay the team and Booker getting into full-on “jive” mode. We will have to see. It will be a long season, so Jive-Mode will be found before too long.
As a side note, I had hoped the NBA would have tried to have a season with 72 games in the regular season schedule instead of 82. It would be nice to see fully healthy teams facing each other in the post-season. But: cash.
SouthernSun: No, not really. Especially since apparently Monty is drawing up entirely new offensive schemes for the team to implement, probably because he is correctly assuming that the Suns now have a target on their back and other teams will be looking at how to stop them from tape of last season. The only upside to it I could see is maybe Payne and Elfrid and Payne and CP3 getting a bit more run together, getting familiar. Especially Elfrid and Payne. I have a feeling Payton is going to be playing a bit more this season than some of us assumed when the team signed him. That will allow Payne to be a bit more a scorer when he’s out there, and concentrate less on facilitating.
Alex S: Sort of.
It could be a good way to get Landry Shamet involved with the first unit as a SG and/or allow Monty to work on some different looks. I’m not worried about Devin’s workload in the preseason whatsoever so as long as DBook doesn’t have any lingering issues from COVID, it should be all good regardless.
Rod: The answer to this really depends on just how much time Booker misses. On one hand, it gives Landry Shamet more reps playing with the starters which could be quite beneficial later on. Landry won’t be able to be Devin Booker and play exactly the same role with the starters which means that some adjustments to the way the offense is run will need to be made. Perhaps that means involving DA more... perhaps running some plays for Mikal. It will be nice to have a better idea of what needs to be changed now instead of having to figure it out during an actual game later on if Devin has to miss a game.
On the other hand, if Book misses a lot of training camp time, he might start out the season a bit rusty and out of sync with the rest of the starters. As the Suns are returning their full starting lineup and most of their high minute rotation players, I don’t think it will take him too long to get back into the groove with them. I’d prefer that happens during the preseason rather than the regular season games though.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!
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Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Other than Book and CP3, which Suns player do you think is most likely to have a 40+ point game?”
61% - Deandre Ayton.
23% - Mikal Bridges.
02% - Jae Crowder.
07% - Cam Payne.
02% - Landry Shamet.
05% - Someone else.
A total of 121 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Deandre Ayton average 14.4 points per game last season after averaging 18.2 ppg in 2019-20 and 16.3 ppg as a rookie...
How many points per game do you think Deandre Ayton will average this season?
This poll is closed