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Center of the Sun: Suns preseason basketball begins today!

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

Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Yes, Suns basketball is back with three preseason games this week. Preseason games are frequently referred to as meaningless but only in regard to the final score. They’re perhaps the one time that the old saying, ‘It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” really fits.

Monty Williams knows what he has with his returning players but how well his new additions will fit in is still to be determined. Also, is Jalen Smith ready to play meaningful minutes this season? That’s probably a bigger question mark than how well the new additions will fit in as Smith plays at a position of need. None of the new guys are power forwards and no one else on the roster is a natural fit there.

Jae Crowder has done a very good job as the Suns’ starting PF but at 6’6” he’s just not going to grab a lot of rebounds surrounded by taller players. Cam Johnson is a little taller at 6’8” but hasn’t been a great rebounder either. The Suns were 23rd in total rebounds last season and 28th in offensive rebounds. JaVale McGee will help in that respect when he’s filling in for Ayton but Stix has the length and athleticism to hopefully raise those rebounding numbers even higher. Smith led the NBA Summer League in rebounding (12.5) and while fans are rightfully leery of putting to much faith in SL stats translating to real NBA games, rebounding is a skill that has proven to translate better than most others.

While much has been said about trading for Thaddeus Young, it seems unlikely to happen before the regular season begins. He would be a welcome addition to the Suns bench but I’m of the opinion that the Spurs will hold on to Young until the trade deadline approaches to get the best possible return for him. The players already on the Suns roster are likely the players that they start the regular season with.

But back to the preseason games this week. Of the three, only Wednesday’s game will be at home and the Suns recently announced that game will start at 3 PM local time instead of 7 PM.

Following the Suns/Lakers preseason game, the Mercury will be playing Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals vs. the Aces at 7 pm.


2020-21 Highlights

#4 CLIPPERS at #1 SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | June 20, 2021

#2 SUNS at #4 CLIPPERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | June 30, 2021

BUCKS at SUNS | FULL GAME 1 NBA FINALS HIGHLIGHTS | July 6, 2021

Top 20 Phoenix Suns Plays of The Year!


Quotes of the Week

“You get to play what you love every single day. There can be wear and tear on your body, but at the end of the day, we’re doing what we love.” - Mikal Bridges

“We’re back here (at practice in Phoenix), the vibes are immaculate in here and I like what we’re doing.” - Devin Booker

“We can cross out the early stages of figuring each other out on the court. I feel like we know what’s going on.” - Devin Booker


News & Notes

Suns season preview: Out to prove 2021 was no fluke. Hoops Hype

After breaking decade-long playoff drought with NBA Finals run, Suns still in thick of title contention. NBC Sports

Suns return to camp after Finals loss, embrace new journey. TSN

‘It’s the Reason I Wear 23’: Phoenix Suns’ Cameron Johnson Shares Divine Meaning Behind Jersey Number. CBN News

$4,000 for a Devin Booker trading card? Market flourishes as Valley sports teams excel. Cronkite News

2021-22 Phoenix Suns Statistical Predictions. Zona Hoops

Suns star Chris Paul reveals scary mentality that should worry the rest of the NBA. Clutch Points

NBA Finals And MVP Odds Ahead Of Preseason. Gaming Today


This Week in Suns History

On October 8, 2018, the Suns fired former GM Ryan McDonough and appointed James Jones and Trevor Bukstein as interim co-general managers.

On October 9, 1972, the Suns waived SG/SF John Wetzel who was picked up by the Atlanta Hawks. Three years later, the Suns would claim Wetzel after he was waived by the Hawks in October of 1975.


Suns Trivia

Following his final season as a player with the Suns (1975-76), John Wetzel retired but eventually returned to the Suns as an assistant coach under John MacLeod in 1979. After MacLeod was fired during the 1986-87 season, Wetzel would be named the Suns’ new head coach for 1987-88. It would be his last season in Phoenix as he was also fired after the team finished 28-54 under him and missed the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year.

Last season Deandre Ayton (#49) joined Bevin Booker (#9) in the top 50 of the Suns’ All-Time leading scorers list. DA’s 2,846 point total sandwiches him between Rex Chapman (#50 with 2,787 pts) and A.C. Green (#48 with 2,885 pts). If he only has the same ppg average as last season (14.4) in 2021-22, he should amass over 4,000 career points this season and possibly move into the top 30. Book and DA are the only two current Suns players on this top 50 list.

Devin Booker (795) needs only 6 more three pointers to pass Dan Majerle (800) and move into 2nd on the Suns All-Time 3-Pointers made list. He would need 257 3-point makes to move past Steve Nash for #1 on the list though as Steve made 1,051 during his 10 seasons in Phoenix. No Suns player has ever made that many 3-pointers in a single season and only three have ever made more than 200 in a single season. Quentin Richardson is #1 on that list with 226 3-pointers made (631 attempts) in 2004-05, Raja Bell is 2nd with 205 made (496 attempts) in 2006-07 and Gerald Green is 3rd with 204 made (510 attempts) in 2013-14. Book’s highest number of 3-pt makes in a season is 147 which he accomplished in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

Only 8 active NBA players have a higher career points per game average than Devin Booker. They are Kevin Durant, LeBron James, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. Book’s current career 22.97 ppg average ranks 28th highest in NBA/ABA history.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, Oct. 4 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings (Preseason) 7:00 pm PST

Wednesday, Oct. 6 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Lakers (Preseason) 3:00 pm PST (NBATV)

Sunday, Oct. 10 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers (Preseason) 7:00 pm PST (ESPN)

We’ve got three preseason games this week! I’m not going to make any predictions other than these three should be interesting.

The Kings... I’m not sure what they’re trying to do in SacTown anymore but they’ve got some talented players with which they could possible put together a good team. They’ve got four - yes I said four - ex-Suns on their team including Richaun Holmes, Alex Len, Damian Jones and Emanuel Terry (was with the Suns on a 10-day contract back in 2018-19). I wouldn’t bet on the outcome but I have a feeling that the Kings will be a little more invested in winning than the Suns.

There are some questions about how well the roster the Lakers have assembled (the oldest in the NBA) will fit together but they certainly have what could be the most collectively experienced group ever in the NBA. They have the a combined 151 seasons of NBA experience. The Suns (7th oldest) have 91. Sacramento (18th oldest) has 68. OKC (the youngest team in the league) has 42. I’m looking forward to seeing how well the Suns and Lakers matchup during the brief moments that both teams are playing their starters.

Wins would be nice but it’s preseason and preparing for the regular season is what counts right now.


Important Future Dates

October 13 - Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers (Preseason game) 7:00 pm PST

October 18 - Deadline for signing contract extensions.

October 19 - 2021-22 regular season begins.

October 20 - Opening Night: Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

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.