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Center of the Sun: A new season of Suns basketball begins this week!

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers W (119-74) Full Recap

This is it. D-Day. Deadline Day. At some point during the day, we will all discover whether the Suns have signed Deandre Ayton to a contract extension... or not.

Mikal Bridges got his 4-year, $90 mil bag yesterday afternoon. If you were within 10 miles of Phoenix and didn’t hear a loud collective sigh of relief when the news broke, I suggest you get your hearing checked. If DA gets his extension today, people in neighboring states may hear that one.

If they do get his extension signed today, the anxiety created by uncertainty many Suns fans have been feeling will dissipate and we can all go into the season feeling good. If not, it will linger throughout the season as many will speculate that any off night that Ayton has was caused by him being disgruntled over not getting the respect he was due from the front office and ownership.

I’d love to not be hearing that all season long. More than that, I’d love to hear that he gets the extension he deserves and just move on to enjoying a new season of Suns basketball without needless distractions.

Whether it’s yes or no, the Suns still have a new season starting in two days. This year’s team has the potential to be even better than last year’s squad and we all know how far they went... two wins short of an NBA title. With a little luck, perhaps this will be THE year that we’ll see them finally make it all the way to the top.

Gear up and get ready, Suns fans.


Preseason Highlights

TRAIL BLAZERS at SUNS | NBA PRESEASON FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | October 13, 2021

Devin Booker drops 17 PTS in 18 MIN in his preseason debut


Key Stats

109.4 OffRtg, 91.3 DefRtg, 18.1 NetRtg

Those are just preseason stats but they place the Suns at 4th (4-way tie with Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Philadelphia), 1st (2-way tie with Chicago) and 3rd respectively in the NBA. The Suns were a top 10 team in offense and defense during the 2020-21 regular season and this at least points to them being there again in 2021-22.

58.1 True Shooting percentage (Team)

Again, it’s a preseason stat but that put the Suns 2nd behind Brooklyn. The Suns were also 2nd in FG percentage (48.1%), 1st in FT percentage (89.9%) and 11th in 3-pt percentage (35.3%). The Suns still need to get to the free throw line more often as they were only 26th in FT attempts per game (17.3).

50.3 rebounds per game

That was good for 5th overall in the preseason. The Suns averaged only 42.9 rebounds per game in the regular season (23rd) in 2020-21 and 42.7 during the playoffs. Hopefully the preseason numbers indicate an improvement in rebounding that will carry over into the regular season. The Suns averaged only 44.0 rpg in the 2020-21 preseason which wasn’t too far off their regular season average so I’m hopeful that this year’s preseason rebounding numbers will also be fairly close to those in the regular season.


Quotes of the Week

“We’re still gonna keep getting better and getting after it.” - Mikal Bridges

“This is one of if not the most competitive gyms I’ve ever been a part of.” - Monty Williams


Injury Status Report

Dario Saric (Knee) - Expected to be out until at least April 1.


News & Notes

Three reasons why Suns could return to NBA Finals: Roster continuity, prove-it season for Deandre Ayton. CBS Sports

Phoenix Suns: 4 bold predictions for the 2021-22 NBA season. Clutch Points

Top NBA shooting guards for 2021-22: Ranking all 30 starters. Sporting News

Phoenix Suns NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: Is Regression Inevitable in Loaded West? Action Network

“Deandre Ayton is like Shaquille O’Neal on the Orlando Magic”: Former Shaq teammate makes bold claim on the Suns center amidst stalled contract talks. The Sports Rush

Continuity Rankings: Breaking down each team’s roster turnover. NBA.com

Chris Paul, Business Of Sports. Sports 360 AZ

Devin Booker Surprises Arizona Girl Scouts With $100,000 Donation. Suns.com


This Week in Suns History

On October 18, 1968, Dick Van Arsdale scored the Suns very first basket at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum as Phoenix beat the Seattle Supersonics 116-107 in their inaugural regular season opener. Van Arsdale (21 pts), Gail Goodrich (27 pts) and Dick Snyder (20 pts) led the way in scoring with 68 of the Suns total points (58.6%). Goodrich and center George Wilson would share the honors of being the first two Suns players to ever record double-doubles with Goodrich getting 27 pts and 10 assists and Wilson scoring 16 points while pulling down 19 rebounds. Goodrich was also just one rebound short of getting the first triple-double in Suns history.

On October 18, 1977, 6-time All-Star Walter Davis made his NBA debut for the Phoenix Suns in a 100-83 win over the Golden State Warriors.

On October 22, 1976, twin brothers Tom and Dick Van Arsdale played together in a game for the Phoenix Suns, becoming the first pair of twins to play for the same NBA club. The Suns ended up losing the game 111-98 to the New Orleans Jazz.

On October 23, 1993, in the finals of the sixth McDonald’s Championship, held at the Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany, the Phoenix Suns defeated Italian League champion Buckler Bologna 112-90. Charles Barkley led all scorers with 28 points and was awarded the Drazen Petrovic Trophy as MVP of the tournament after scoring 52 points in two games.


Suns Trivia

In their inaugural season, the Suns would get off to a great start winning four of their first seven games. Eventually they would come back to earth as they just won 12 games the rest of the season on the way to a league worst 16-66 record in 1968-69.

Walter Davis was selected by the Suns the fifth pick of the 1977 NBA draft and he made an immediate impact, playing in 81 games and averaging 24.2 points per game in his first season. He also won the 1978 Rookie of the Year Award and earned second team All-NBA honors. Known as “The Greyhound” for his speedy style and sleek physical appearance, Davis played 11 seasons for the Suns and is the Suns’ all-time leading scorer with 15,666 points. In 1994, his No. 6 was retired by the Suns and in 2004 he was enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Wednesday, Oct. 20 - Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

Friday, Oct. 22 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

Saturday, Oct. 23 - Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers 7:00 pm AZT (NBA TV)

The first week of Suns’ new season starts out with a trio of games against three formidable opponents. The NBA schedulers didn’t do them any favors as two are on the road and back-to-back.

First up, the Denver Nuggets. I’m sure you all remember that the Suns booted the Nugs out of the playoffs 4-0 just a few short months ago and I’m certain that the Nuggets haven’t forgotten that either. They’ll be out for a little bit of revenge by trying to spoil the Suns home opener but I don’t think that will happen. I like the Suns’ offseason moves to improve more than what the Nuggets have done and believe the Suns will win this one.

Next, the Suns’ first road game will be in LA against the Lakers. The Laker went 0-6 in preseason and were handed two of those losses by the Suns... both with Devin Booker on the bench. The Lakers just don’t have much team chemistry yet and I don’t expect them to suddenly get it together between now and Friday night. I’m calling this one another win for the Suns.

The final game of the week is in Portland against the team that the Suns just handed a severe 119-74 loss. Don’t let that make you think that Portland is a pushover. I don’t think the Suns will steamroll them like they did in the preseason but I do think they’ll get win number three on Saturday even on the 2nd night of a B2B on the road.

I’m predicting that the Suns will start off the season 3-0.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

December 15 - Most players signed during offseason can be traded.

December 25 - Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors 3:00 PM AZT (ABC)

January 15 - All players signed during offseason can be traded.

February 20, 2022 - NBA All-Star Game.

April 10, 2022 - Regular season ends.

April 12-15, 2022 - Play-In Tournament.

April 16, 2022 - Playoffs begin.

June 23, 2022 - NBA Draft.