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Inside the Suns: Very early season player grades

Your weekly Inside the Suns analysis straight from the BSotS community who live and breathe the team.

Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.

First up... the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.

Fantable Question of the Week

Q1 - What grades would you give the Suns’ players for their performances so far?

Author’s note: All grades are based on each member’s EXPECTATIONS for that player going into this season and how well that player has so far lived up to those expectations.

Everyone was asked to use the following grading scale:

  • A - Above expectations.
  • B - At expectations.
  • C - Slightly below expectations.
  • D - Way below expectations.
  • F - Why is this guy even on the team?
  • Incomplete - Haven’t seen enough to give a grade.

GuarGuar: Player Grades

1. Devin Booker - D+: Efficiency and volume shooting has lacked, ramping up from Covid is likely reason.

2. Chris Paul - C: Really bad game against Portland, still struggling to lead lineups when Booker is off the court

3. Deandre Ayton - C+: Needs more touches.

4. Mikal Bridges - B: Probably the player closest to form right now

5. Jae Crowder - D

6. Cam Johnson - B

7. Landry Shamet - B

8. Cam Payne - D-

9. JaVale McGee - C

10. Abdel Nader - F: Only player that doesn’t adhere to 0.5 offense

11. Elfrid Payton - B

12. Jalen Smith - C

13. Frank Kaminsky - C

14. Chandler Hutchison - C

15. Ish Wainright - C

Sun-Arc: I’ll preface the grades with an overall team grade of D, which I believe is important to understand because their current record and low level of play is more than on one player- this is a team problem. Last season, after the 8-8 start, this team would wear down opponents by out-hustling (getting all the 50/50 balls) and out-working them. They were meticulous. They’d hold each other accountable. They’d often come from behind in the first half and end up winning because they did not take plays off often.

This season, so far, they have not found their footing- particularly on the defensive side. They are lazy with their man-to-man defense, lazy closing out on shooters, not trusting each other to do their job on defense (which makes sense given what we’ve seen), and are not holding each other accountable. As they have so often said last season, their offense is predicated on their defense; meaning they really need to get their defensive act together.

Two questions I have been asking myself during the first four games are:

  1. How much credit should be given to Willie Green last season on the team’s stingy defense? Maybe they lost their defensive mojo when he left the building. I certainly hope not. And if not…
  2. Is the team still mentally worn out by the finals run? Maybe they just do not have the mental fortitude right now.

1. Devin Booker - C

2. Chris Paul - D

3. Deandra Ayton - C

4. Mikal Bridges - B

5. Jae Crowder - C

6. Cam Johnson - C

7. Landry Shamet - B

8. Cam Payne - Incomplete

9. JaVale McGee - B

10. Abdel Nader - C

11. Elfrid Payton - B

12. Jalen Smith - Incomplete

13. Frank Kaminsky - Incomplete

14. Chandler Hutchison - Incomplete

15. Ish Wainright - Incomplete

SouthernSun: Player Grades

1. Devin Booker - C

Booker gets a C because he hasn’t quite met my expectations for him. However, this will almost certainly turn around. He isn’t shooting as well as we know he can, but he did just have Covid not too long ago, and it’s a new season

2. Chris Paul - C

CP3 also comes in at a C right now. Again, not worried about him. He’s getting over surgery and had a short offseason and he’s getting up there in age. Once he’s back im the swing of things he’ll be fine. His game isn’t predicated on athleticism. He’ll be able to do a crossover into fadeaway jumper forever. Defense will be another story, but I don’t think he’s a liability like that yet.

3. Deandra Ayton - B

I’m sort of getting what I expected from Ayton. I wish he’d look even better, but he’s playing about how figured. I like that he’s hitting a three here and there. He disappeared during the 2nd half of that Kings game though. Went from being active and involved to looking listless out there.

4. Mikal Bridges - B

Mikal is playing exactly how I’d want him to. I almost gave him an A. He’s hitting his threes and defending well. Leading the team in BPG right now. I like the flashes of self creation he continues to give. It feels like that will grow more common as he gets better and more confident.

5. Jae Crowder - C/Incomplete

6. Cam Johnson - C/Incomplete

7. Landry Shamet - B

Landry is currently shooting 60% from three, so there’s that. He hasn’t had a big game yet, but he will. Once he gels with the team a bit more, gets more familiar with how guys play, where they’ll be, I think we will see big things from him.

8. Cam Payne - Incomplete

9. JaVale McGee - B

This is about what we can expect from JaVale moving forward. I’m pleased. Efficient offense. Willing to shoot. Blocks a shot here and there. Looking for more of those.

10. Abdel Nader - Incomplete

11. Elfrid Payton - C/Incomplete

12. Jalen Smith - Incomplete

13. Frank Kaminsky - Incomplete

14. Chandler Hutchison - Incomplete

15. Ish Wainright - Incomplete

Alex S: Player Grades

1. Devin Booker - C+. Not going to be too hard on Book consider his comeback from Covid.

2. Chris Paul - B+. He looks fresh and ramped up. Should have another great season.

3. Deandre Ayton - C-. I’ll be honest, I expected more out of the gate. I need to see the intensity ramped up another notch and I want him to have a big season.

4. Mikal Bridges - B. His grade gets brought down from the first game especially, but otherwise I’m very encouraged with how he looks.

5. Jae Crowder - C. Gotta start making his shots more consistently.

6. Cam Johnson - A-. Love how Cam looks out the gate.

7. Landry Shamet - B. Gotta see a bit more out of Landry but he seems to fit in quite well and he’s had a decent impact thus far.

8. Cam Payne - C. I’ll give CP15 a lower grade due to the injury and semi-average play thus far.

9. JaVale McGee - C-. JaVale is still getting integrated but I’m most concerned about his ability to negate small ball 5’s. He was a big reason for the Denver loss.

10. Abdel Nader - C-. Gotta see more production out of Abdel.

11. Elfrid Payton - C.

12. Jalen Smith - Incomplete

13. Frank Kaminsky - Incomplete

14. Chandler Hutchison - Incomplete

15. Ish Wainright - Incomplete

Rod: My grades based on expectations are...

1. Devin Booker - C

2. Chris Paul - C+

3. Deandra Ayton - C

4. Mikal Bridges - A-

5. Jae Crowder - C-

6. Cam Johnson - B-

7. Landry Shamet - B

8. Cam Payne - C/Incomplete

9. JaVale McGee - B+

10. Abdel Nader - B-

11. Elfrid Payton - B+

12. Jalen Smith - Incomplete

13. Frank Kaminsky - Incomplete

14. Chandler Hutchison - Incomplete

15. Ish Wainright - Incomplete

The only guys that have exceeded my expectations so far are Bridges, McGee and Payton. Mikal has added more to his game than I expected and I really like what I’ve seen so far. JaVale and Elf are a little better than I expected but not earth shatteringly so.

Johnson, Shamet and Nader are all about where I expected them to be. I think Cam J is capable of more which is why he got a B-minus.

Booker has just not started off well for the guy you expect to be your leading scorer. He’s been very inefficient so far (40.7% FG%, 45.7% eFG%) and hasn’t seemed locked in on D. On the bright side, his rebounding (4.8 rpg) and turnovers (only 1.8 per game) have been pretty good.

CP3’s scoring efficiency is also down (39.5% FG%, 43.4% eFG%). I can’t complain about him leading the NBA in assists this season (so far) with 10.8 per game though.

Excluding DA’s numbers in the Kings game, he’s been pretty underwhelming so far. He needs to play as he did against the Kings more than once every 4 games.

Crowder’s three-point shooting concerns me a lot. We all know he can be a steaky shooter but going 4 of 22 in the first four games (18.2%) is an extremely bad streak. Cam Payne’s 4 of 14 shooting overall (28.6% FG%) is also concerning but that was just over 2 games which made me a little undecided over whether he should get an “incomplete” grade or not.

Composite Fantable Grades for Suns Starters:

  • Devin Booker - C
  • Chris Paul - C
  • Deandre Ayton - C+
  • Mikal Bridges - B
  • Jae Crowder - C-

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

Interesting Suns Stuff

Devin Booker Mix - My Time

Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “Deandre Ayton’s relationship with the Suns is...

09% - Possibly damaged beyond repair.

91% - Strained but not irreparable.

A total of 144 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


When the Suns reach the 20-game mark this season they will be...

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    At least 3 games above .500.
    (80 votes)
  • 31%
    At best a game or two above or below .500.
    (45 votes)
  • 11%
    At least 3 games below .500.
    (16 votes)
141 votes total Vote Now

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