Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
First up, all of us here at Bright Side hope you all have a Merry Christmas this year! Be safe, be well and... beat Golden State!
And now, on to 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 - James Jones had a lot of faith in Landry Shamet when he signed him to a 4-yr 10.5 mil per year contract extension in the offseason. How do you rate Landry’s performance so far?
GuarGuar: I think Landry has been the most disappointing part of our team this year. Harsh but it’s how I feel given the extension. He’s shot abysmal from inside the 3 point line. Hasn’t looked in rhythm all season. Was supposed to be a big help if Book ever missed time and he squandered the opportunity. I’d give a letter grade of a D.
Sun-Arc: I think Landry will be alright. Probably worth the contract he signed. Right now his stats are lower than his career averages on offense- but his rebounding and defensive numbers are better. His overall FG% is a bit lower (career-wise, .411 to .377) and his 3pt% is down a bit (from .395 to .380) as are his 3PAr. That he is working harder on defense is a good sign, and it could be that he needs to get his wind up a bit more to knock down more shots. I think he returns to his own means this season and maybe overshadows his previous career highs.
SouthernSun: Landry has definitely been a bit underwhelming this season, shooting only 37% from the field, and posting a career low in points per game. However, he’s still knocking down a reliable 38% of his attempts from three (the second lowest mark of his career). I am not overly concerned with this. I believe he will round into form before too terribly long, and have a stretch where he looks a lot better. In any event, the last two years of his contract aren’t fully guaranteed, so even if it ends up being a slight overpay, no big deal.
Alex S: 6.5/7. He’s been a bit too inconsistent beyond the arch for my liking but that was actually something I expected. His team defense and even individually has been something encouraging where I was initially worried he could get targeted in a playoff environment.
If you could get Landry to shoot at a 90% consistency-level similar to Cam Johnson, you’re talking about a helluva role player.
Rod: He’s definitely been sub-par on his shooting but his defensive rating so far this season has been the best of his career. He’s putting in the effort on both ends of the court and I think his FG% will increase as the season goes on simply because he’s always been a good shooter. His 3-point percentage (38.0%) is not very far below his career average before coming to Phoenix (39.7%) and through the Suns’ first 9 games his FG percentage was actually above his career average. I expect a little better play from him and still believe I’ll get it as the season goes on.
Q2 - Over the Suns’ last 9 games, Cam Johnson has averaged more minutes per game off the bench (29.2) than starter Jae Crowder (28.2). Could this be a sign of Monty eventually moving him into the starting lineup?
GuarGuar: We tried this last year a little bit and Jae was horrendous off the bench. Crowder is the better defender and fits better starting. Cam is probably the better player though and on nights he is hot he should close over Jae. I expect Jae to continue starting unless he goes into a major slump.
Sun-Arc: CJ is turning into a “super-sub” in my opinion. But not a starter this season. I’ve said it in comments previously, but I believe Jae is the “toughness/fearless-soul” of this team. He is still a better defender than CJ, stronger, and is the one true “dog” we have on this team when it comes to being an enforcer. JC also has WAY more experience (including playoffs) than CJ, and knows how to get under most star players’ skin. As good as Johnson is getting, Jae should start all season long.
The other side of the coin is that we know CJ coming off the bench helps the scoring punch there. Something that is not as needed with the starters. That he may get more minutes in the regular season than Crowder is a good thing for both players right now. And the team. But Jae should stay the starter.
SouthernSun: While the idea of having Cam as the starter seems fun, I believe Monty will continue starting Jae. Crowder’s defense and toughness are huge for that lineup, and while he may not be shooting all that well, he’s still a willing shooter who the defense can’t often leave open. Cam’s offense is nice off the bench right now, and the team is rolling. Unless you’re trading for a big name or something, don’t shake up the starting lineup just to go from Crowder to Johnson.
Alex S: No. The main reasoning for that is Cam can play multiple positions so his versatility off the bench is incredibly valuable in terms of matchups. Jae plays the 4 strictly and that’s totally fine. The continuity is a huge strength for Phoenix but I will say in a world where Cam is your starter? You’re completely well off.
Rod: I believe Cam J will eventually move into the starting lineup but probably not this season. He’s playing really well but those extra minutes he’s been getting over the last 9 games are also partially due to Booker missing 7 of those games and DA missing 2. If Jae loses his starting spot it will not likely happen before next season’s training camp.
Q3 - The NBA has made the following new rules on signing “replacement players” to 10-day contracts to replace players who test positive for COVID-19 to avoid game postponements. What are your thoughts on them?
- A team will be permitted to sign a replacement player for each player on its roster who tests for positive for COVID.
- A team will be required to sign at least one replacement player if it has two players test positive for COVID-19, at least two replacements if it has three players test positive, etc., etc., etc.
- When a team is required to sign a replacement player, the player must be available for the team’s next game.
- A player signed as a replacement won’t count toward team salary for cap or tax purposes.
- A player on a two-way contract will no longer be limited to 50 games on his team’s active roster.
GuarGuar: It seems like the league is really going to do everything they can to avoid postponements or any stoppage this season. The reason certain games have been postponed is teams went under the 8 player minimum. So this should help us have less PPDs. We also can be seeing names that haven’t been in the league for a while return.
Sun-Arc: I had not seen those rules. The most interesting aspect to me is that teams are “required” to find replacement players if a team has two or more players test positive. I like that it is even for all teams, though the sentiment I read from this is “we are not stopping the season and really do not want to postpone any more games.” Good for revenue, I suppose. Though not for visual quality of product on the court.
I suppose a few “forgotten” players may be salvaged, or unknowns turn the opportunities into long-term salaries. And good for those guys. Overall I support the move.
SouthernSun: I don’t have too much of an opinion on it either way. I’m sure the people figuring this out have a better grasp of what they should be doing than I do. I’ve seen a few people mention that it’s good for the players getting a chance now, because maybe some of them will impress and stick around, and I agree. That’s pretty cool. It’s certainly unfortunate that all these players are getting Covid, but im assuming most all are vaxxed and it won’t affect them too severely, so despite that, at least a small positive is happening in getting some guys a chance who wouldn’t have otherwise had it.
Alex S: It’s gonna be good entertainment value to see guys like Joe Johnson and Lance Stephenson getting minutes for teams but it’s not something that’s going to serve much value long term. Hopefully the league can be well off and healthy beyond the all star break.
Rod: Outside of the rules themselves, I really like the fact that both the NBA and the NBPA (the player’s union) came up with them. It will likely make for some games being played with lopsided talent levels when a mostly healthy team plays one loaded with replacements but it helps avoid the headaches of game postponements and rescheduling them later... which could wind up having some teams playing back-to-back-to-back games late in the season to make up those. Neither the owners nor the players want another postponement of the season or another bubble (which really isn’t even possible at this time).
It’s also a good opportunity for players not currently in the league to get a shot at proving themselves and negating the 50-game limit for two-way contract players should help too.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week! (Alex S. did not participate this week.)
Interesting Suns Stuff
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The Phoenix Suns Have EVOLVED & Its Scary
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “All I want for Christmas this year is...”
28% - Peace on earth.
72% - A BIG Suns win over Golden State.
A total of 364 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Which stat concerns you the most?
This poll is closed
Landry Shamet hitting on only 37.3% of his 2-point shots.
Cameron Payne hitting on only 30.2% of his 3-point shots.