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 Questions of the Week
Q1 - Which Suns player (who has gotten significant court time) has so far exceeded your expectations the most this season?
GuarGuar: I would say Mikal Bridges. Is it very surprising to me that he’s gotten a lot better? No, not really. But a couple seasons ago his jumpshot was terrible and now he’s a 40% 3 pt shooter and has a midrange pull-up game. He’s turned into an elite starter and a top 45 player in the league.
Sun-Arc: Hard decision on who to choose. First because most players have merely met or somewhat disappointed in the first 10 games. The five players I’ll mention in a positive light are Paul, Booker, Bridges, Frank, and Shamet.
Paul because of his assist rate and per game. Wow. 11.3 per game and a very stout 48.5% AST%! He’s also shooting threes at 41% so far.
Booker because his energy has really come around. He’s got a positive +/- in all but two games (both in the first 3 contests). He’s scored in double figures in all 9 games, over 20 in 6 of them, and over 30 in two of them. Already.
Bridges because he seems to have taken a leap again. His FG% is at 58% this season, a big leap from 54% last season. He’s been more aggressive taking the mid-range and looking for his own shot (though, so far his % of FG Ast’d is up from last season).
Frank because… wow, who is this guy?? I hope this is him coming into his own because we could really use this guy all season long and into the playoffs!
Shamet because he is seriously becoming a booker-lite. His PER (so far) is higher than any season and hitting 40% of his threes. If he can come close to the production he had against HOU and ATL, there will be little drop-off with Booker off the floor. That would be huge.
SouthernSun: Well this is an easy answer now after the last couple of games. If I’m allowed to say Frank Kaminsky, I’m saying Frank. That man has killed it recently. 31 points. He is taking advantage of his opportunities. I love what he’s showing. It almost feels like we aren’t even missing Dario now. Hopefully he doesn’t fall back to earth, because this is stupendous, but I’m sure he will.
Alex S: I’ll go with JaVale. I think the thing that’s surprised me a bit with JaVale thus far is his ability to make dramatic impacts within a 2-3 minute span that can change the course of a quarter/game in favor of Phoenix. I knew that there would be some deficiencies with his defense based on good small ball units on the other team but McGee’s ability to make multiple plays in a short span has positively impacted Phoenix’s ability to win games. I’ll also give some credit to Frank the Tank as well but I did see in spurts last year so that’s why I chose JaVale.
Rod: Frank Kaminsky. While others have played better, I had very low expectations for Frank and hoped that he wouldn’t have to play except in garbage time situations. His play on both ends of the court this season has been much better and more consistent than I’ve ever seen from him. There have been times this season (when DA has been out injured) that I’ve actually thought, “Monty needs to put Frank in.” I can honestly say that thought would never have crossed my mind not too long ago.
And FYI, I had picked Frank for my answer (and wrote all of the above) before his career best scoring performance against Portland on Wednesday night.
Author’s Note: The Fantable members we told that the “who has gotten significant court time” part excluded Jalen Smith, Chandler Hutchison, Ish Wainright & Dario Saric from being considered as answers in both this question and question #2.
Q2 - Which Suns player (who has gotten significant court time) has so far failed to meet your expectations the most this season?
GuarGuar: Cam Johnson has been my biggest disappointment thus far. He’s been really inefficient, and his rebounding rates have gone down quite a bit. He’s got a -3.3 OBPM and shooting under 30% from 3. He’s been a big reason why the second unit has struggled this year.
Sun-Arc: Well, Ayton, obviously. He has had productive moments, but missing this many games early is a bummer. And even when he was playing, it was not quite what we saw in the playoffs. The good sign was him putting the ball on the floor more and looking to create some for himself. I’m a huge believer in DA, therefore me not being able to see him means he is not meeting my expectations.
SouthernSun: Nobody. I don’t think it’s fair to judge anyone yet. It was a short offseason, the Suns bench is pretty different now, and there’s all the Sarver drama going on. Landry maybe hasn’t been as good as I expected, but I assume he will round into form soon. He already had a good game recently where it seemed he couldn’t miss from three.
Alex S: For failed expectations, I think I’ll go with Deandre. That being said, I do believe the contract portion plays a part in his recent absence (making sure he’s 100% healthy before playing again) but I was assuming you’d see a very motivated DA in order to ensure he’d get a max deal this next offseason. So far, I’d say he hasn’t helped his case but that can obviously change. I’m not at a point where I’m concerned yet as some Suns fans have shown but we’ll need to see him step up his game before Christmas. Otherwise, then I’ll start to get concerned about his performance.
Rod: Cam Johnson. I’m really liking Cam’s all-around hustle and defensive effort this year but his shooting (35.4% FG and 34.0% 3-PT) has been disappointing so far. The Suns need more from him than the 7.0 ppg (in 21.4 minutes per game) he’s supplied so far to insure that they keep winning. His performance against Memphis last night was a very nice step in the right direction though.
Q3 - If you could ask Monty Williams one question, and be assured of a TOTALLY honest/non-evasive answer, what would it be?
GuarGuar: ”Is Robert Sarver actively hurting the team?”
I’d want a truthful answer whether he currently has a negative impact, or has had a negative impact since Monty arrived a few years ago. That’s my biggest question I’d want answered.
Sun-Arc: “What is your honest opinion of Bob Sarver and the front office culture?”
I’d really like to know what he thinks. I trust his moral compass. Now, he will not have been privy to many of the goings on in the past- but his 3+ year assessment would be interesting because maybe/hopefully the culture has really changed once Jones and (and a year later) Monty were in charge. Even if some/most of the stories of the past are true, if the culture now is good and Bob is behaving himself plus behind the scenes, that tells us a lot.
SouthernSun: “How big of a role do you plan on Ayton getting offensively in the team’s future plans?”
I’d ask this question and then gauge the answer to get a sense for, first, how committed the Suns are to keeping Ayton/how likely they are to trade him, and secondly, to see a little glimpse of what the teams future roster construction and offensive identity will be.
Alex S: ”Do you want Deandre on the Phoenix Suns in 2022 if he’s under a max contract?”
I’m not going to ask something about Sarver because he came in late to the game for him to have anything insightful to add to the investigation process. Also, all the “powerful” Suns figures of the past seem to have nothing to add when it comes to the investigation so let’s leave that alone. I chose this question because it’d give an understanding to how Monty (and Phoenix) truly values DA. It’s a fascinating scenario because Deandre is obviously a very good basketball player and improving but the value of a center in today’s NBA is a bit tough to judge.
Rod: ”What are the specific reasons why Stix isn’t in the Suns’ player rotation?”
I know he’s got to have a specific reason or reasons why Smith is riveted to the end of the bench. I’ve heard all kinds of speculation, some of which sounds very reasonable, but that’s all it really is. Since I haven’t seen enough of Stix on the court to really know for certain why Monty doesn’t play him, I’d like to hear the specific details on why he hasn’t earned playing time from Monty himself.
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 regarding the NBA’s investigation of misconduct by owner Robert Sarver. ”This investigation will likely lead to...”
35% - Sarver being removed as the Suns owner.
65% - Nothing of consequence.
A total of 217 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Devin Booker is again the Suns’ leading scorer (22.1 ppg) with Mikal Bridges in 2nd (14.6 ppg), Deandre Ayton 3rd (14.2 ppg) and Chris Paul 4th (14.1 ppg).
Who is most likely going to wind up the Suns’ 2nd leading scorer by the end of the season?
This poll is closed