It’s been a fun ride so far.
Even though the Washington Wizards took Suns’ basketball away from us for a while, a third of our regular season is now in the books.
The team is sitting pretty as they currently hold a 16-9 record and are the fourth best team in the West record wise. Only the Jazz, Lakers and Clippers have done better so far. In the East, only the Sixers and Bucks have a greater winning percentage (Suns are a .625 squad) and the Suns beat both of them this week.
Lately, there’s been even more to smile about as the purple and orange have won 8 of their last 9 games.
As used to spectacular offense as we are here in The Valley, a huge factor in their success this season has been their impressive defense. The Suns have allowed the 5th fewest field goals, 3rd fewest threes and least assists in the league.
Sure, you could point out some negatives as well (Only the Grizzlies have gone to the free throw line less. Where’s the respect, refs?!). However, after the last decade, I’m just enjoying the show.
The amazing crew here at Bright Side has gotten together to discuss a few topics. Fans, remember to give us your thoughts in the comments down below. We love hearing from you.
1 - What do you think has been the most pleasantly surprising aspect of this team this season? Most disappointing?
John Voita: Frank Kaminsky’s ability to stabilize the first team unit has been beyond surprising, it’s been downright jaw-to-the-floor shocking. Who knew that the reacquisition of Big Frank would lead to success? The lack of playing time available for rookie Jalen Smith has been disappointing, although it is understandable. Why put a high-risk defensive player in when every minute is valuable?
Matthew Lissy: How deep the Suns can go and how each player added in the off-season has surprised me in being more versatile. E’Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway kill defenses in different ways then just shooting. I didn’t know they had that much in their tool chest...
Disappointing? Chris Paul has yet to contact The JAM Session Podcast about joining for a quick Q and A.
Dave King: The pleasant surprise is that the Suns are holding their own on the boards, ranking 14th in rebound rate, grabbing just over 50% of all available caroms, including ranking 10th on the defensive end. It really helps their defense to end the opponents’ possession on one shot attempt.
The disappointment is... well, I guess all I can say is that I’m disappointed I/we can’t experience these games in person. They’re the most exciting Suns games in half a decade and we’re all stuck watching at home! It’s like a full season of road games. Ugh. On a personal note, I am disappointed I have not interviewed Chris Paul in person yet. He’s the biggest incoming star the Suns have acquired/signed since I started covering games at the arena. Boo, Pandemic. BOO.
2 - If you had to pick one game as the best win so far, which one would it be? Worst loss? Why?
JV: The Bucks win was the most notable, considering they defeated a top tier contender and possible Eastern Conference champion. I’ll give the worst loss designation to the game against the Wizards. Not only did the team not show up, due to COVID protocols and contact tracing, the next three games were postponed.
ML: I would have said the Bucks game but after watching the Suns defeat the 76ers, my expectations have gone up. Now I can see how they can put the better teams away and to do it with their whole roster available.
DK: Best win this season was the pair of Dallas wins without a full compliment of players. Loved loved loved Booker’s game winner. Worst loss: Washington. Not only did the Suns fail to show up, but the Wizards spread COVID all over Dario and he just now came back.
3 - Devin Booker “only” ranks 18th in the league in scoring with 23.8 per game after placing 9th and 7th the past two seasons with 26.6 each campaign. How surprised are you by this? Do you think his scoring numbers will increase? Did you ever imagine the team being this good while his points average dropped?
JV: Muted training camp, 4-game preseason…we all knew it would take a while for this team to find their niche and learn to play together. Kudos to Booker on taking less shots and trying to find his place in this offense. He could have chosen to go into Booker Ball mode and exert his dominate scoring ability. Since coming back from injury he is back to 26 points-per-game; his sweet spot as a scorer.
ML: Yes, you can already see Booker and Paul finding their footing in the offense. You can also see that both are not stumbling over each other for the ball. I prediction Booker to lead the team in assists this year over Paul, so yes I imagined the points average to drop. Suns are winning and that’s all I care about and I am sure it doesn’t bother Book either.
DK: Book doesn’t care about scoring records or All-Star games as long as the team is winning. He’s okay with being the league’s 18th ranked scorer, and I am too. Did I imagine a better team would necessitate a drop in scoring from Booker? Sure, we all imagined it. But he proved in the Bubble that doesn’t have to be the case. I like watching everyone score.
4 - While the scoring jump hasn’t been there, Deandre Ayton is pulling in a career-high 12.6 rebounds per game, good for 4th in the NBA behind only Rudy Gobert, Andre Drummond and Clint Capela. Do you see him leading the league in this stat this season or in the future?
JV: In the future, sure. This season? No.
ML: I don't ever think he will lead the league. Each year he will add things to his offensive game to increase his scoring. Just like Book having a chance to lead the league in scoring.
DK: He can lead the league. He’s got the talent. Is it necessary, in order for the Suns to win a title? No. Top 5 with great all-court defense is more than enough.
Stay tuned to part two of the roundtable on Monday.
What are YOUR answers to today’s questions, Bright Siders?