Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Suns team as well as a peak at Suns teams throughout history in this week.
In this weekly article, we focus on you the community to tease out the good and bad of the Suns who are now 41-16 and in 2nd place in the Western Conference with the 2nd best record in the NBA. They are currently 1.5 games behind the 1st place Utah Jazz, 2 games ahead of the 3rd place LA Clippers, 4 games ahead of the 4th place Denver Nuggets and 6.5 games ahead of the 5th place LA Lakers.
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 - Although the Suns have been playing great, they aren’t perfect. What do you consider the Suns’ biggest weakness and what (if anything) can they do to improve on it?
GuarGuar: I think the biggest weakness we have is over reliance at 3 pointers at times and not adjusting when the shots aren’t falling. We also tend to build big leads with 3s sometimes and we continue to play as if it’s sustainable... a big reason why we’ve blown so many big leads this year. It’s really just a little schematic adjustment that needs to be made at times.
Sun-Arc: Biggest weakness is a the biggest position because of the lack of depth there. We really could have used someone like Dedmon as an athletic defender/rim protector behind Ayton if/when he gets in foul trouble. Saric is up and down, too, which isn’t as helpful as he was in the bubble.
SDKyle: The Suns don’t have a very strong cadre of bench bigs... not a lot to be done about it now except to try hard to keep Ayton healthy and on the floor in key situations. I do fear this could be an Achilles heel for the Suns in the playoffs, but I’m hoping for the best.
Alex S: I think there are two main weaknesses the Suns have.
- They don’t get to the free throw line enough.
- They can get loose with the basketball when they try to force feed Deandre Ayton.
There is good news when it comes to both of my flaws. In regards to the first issue, being a team that doesn’t depend on free throws is helpful for the playoffs because the team will already be accustom to not getting to the line much. There are some teams that heavily depend on free throws to score which could very well struggle early in the playoffs this season. The other good news is the Suns collectively are getting better at picking their moments to target DA on the offensive end.
Q2 - If you compare their Per 36 stats, Torrey Craig surpasses Jae Crowder in most categories. Do you think it’s possible that Monty might move Craig into the starting lineup at some point?
GuarGuar: I don’t see Craig starting this year unless there is some sort of injury. We signed Crowder to a long term deal and is supposed to be a key piece for us.
Sun-Arc: I’m not sure if Monty would move Craig to be a starter. Things have been going so well with the starting unit, I think he leaves it in place. Craig has been great in his role, but may not perform as well as a starter. He doesn’t have the amount of experience that Jae has. Crowder and Paul also have some excellent chemistry on offense, and the starters have a lot of defensive chemistry that Monty would be wise to keep intact.
SDKyle: It’s certainly possible. Crowder is the definition of streaky. Some nights he’s one of our best players, but just as often he’s going 2/11 from the field. I’ve never watched Craig play major minutes before, so I’m not sure what I could expect.
But I’m not opposed to giving it a try if Monty thinks it’s worth it. As Rod says, Craig statistically measures up well.
Alex S: Nope. The only way I see a world where Torrey starts over Jae is if Jae is in a massive shooting slump. Torrey is perfect for the role that’s been designed for him and it’s not worth pushing the limits too much in my opinion. I do love the idea of Torrey getting small ball 5 minutes and being a big part of the rotation but I wouldn’t go as far to say he should get a starting spot over Jae.
Q3 - What Suns players do you believe should be named to the All-NBA (1st, 2nd or 3rd) and/or All-Defensive (1st or 2nd) teams this year?
GuarGuar: I think Booker should be on the All-NBA 3rd team. ~60% TS on the team with the second best record in the league (maybe even best record by the time the season ends). I think Mikal Bridges should be on one of the all-defensive teams. I can’t imagine him being in the first team (even though he deserves it) because of the media, but he is very deserving of an all-defensive nod this season.
Sun-Arc: Paul – the Point God should be first team with how he’s played and the winning ways he’s brought.
Book - I don’t care which team, honestly, but his scoring prowess and efficiency should put him in one of them.
Ayton - If he keeps playing like the last couple of weeks I could see him as a sleeper for third team. Super-efficient and fairly dominant for stretches could certainly gain him some attention. If we go far in the playoffs and he’s a major part of that, he would definitely be a candidate for All-NBA.
Bridges - Won’t get the recognition to be there, but his defense is so damn good he might be in the conversation for third team. If he could get his ppg over 15 or 16 he’d for sure be in the conversation.
SDKyle: I would name Booker to the All-NBA third team and Bridges to the all-defensive team, not sure about which one though. He deserves some recognition though.
I can see a case for Ayton as all NBA third team, given the Suns’ success...but I can easily make the opposite case.
There are just so many good players who deserve recognition...it’s hard to say who deserves it the most.
Alex S: I believe Devin Booker should get All-NBA third team over Donovan Mitchell. Speedy recovery to DMitch but Devin will end up having better numbers across the board other than 3pt shooting and maybe PPG but will also end up playing more games as well. If the Suns are able to capture the #1 seed, this shouldn’t be a question. I do say this with the understanding that Gobert should get an All-NBA spot.
In terms of All-Defensive, I would love to see Mikal get a 2nd team nod. I think the 1st team front court might be too difficult to capture but Mikal has been tremendous this year and deserves credit. If there were three defensive teams, I could make an argument for DA getting a nod but think he’ll end up short.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week! (SouthernSun did not participate this week.)
News & Notes
4 reasons Chris Paul and the Suns are the true favorites to win the West. Clutch Points
The Sky’s the Limit for Deandre Ayton. SI.com
Can Phoenix Win in the Playoff Clutch? The Lead
Suns coach: ‘Vulnerable’ conversation with Mikal Bridges launched wing. Arizona Sports
OPINION: Did the Phoenix Suns Make a Mistake Drafting Jalen Smith? Aztec Press
This Week in Suns History
On April 22, 2000, the Suns scored only 72 points againt the San Antonio Spurs in a playoff game... but won 72-70. 72 points is the lowest point total ever for the Suns in a win and 142 points is the lowest combined point total ever in a Phoenix Suns game. By themselves the Suns have scored more than 142 points fourteen times in their history and equaled that point total another six times.
On April 25, 1968, the nickname “Suns” was chosen as the name of the Phoenix franchise in a contest sponsored by the Arizona Republic. Over 28,000 names were submitted and the winning name “Suns” was suggested by Selinda King, who won $1,000 and season tickets for the inaugural season. One of the rejected name suggestions eventually became the nickname of another NBA franchise that joined the league 12 years later in 1980... the Dallas ‘Mavericks’. The Suns’ team colors, purple and orange, were chosen because of the colorful Arizona sunsets which were rich in those two colors.
Interesting Suns Stuff
The Suns Are The Most DISRESPECTED Contender In A Long Time...
During the game against the Spurs, Devin Booker only scored 15 points but that was enough to push his career point total past the 9,000 mark. He is just the 9th player in league history to score at least 9,000 prior to turning the age of 25 and is the 5th youngest player to reach that mark behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. Following the Milwaukee game, he now has 9,031 career points and is 9th on the All-Time Points Leaders list for the Suns. He is currently 533 points behind Paul Westphal for the 8th spot on that list. Number 7 is 2-time MVP Steve Nash at 10,712 points. Number 1 is Walter Davis with 15,666 career points as a Sun.
In the Milwaukee game, Chris Paul added another 13 assists to his career total (10,145) to move ahead of Magic Johnson (10,141) into 5th place on the NBA’s all-time assists leaderboard. With an additional 191 assists, he would pass both Mark Jackson (4th with 10,334) and Steve Nash (3rd with 10,335).
Jae Crowder was 3-9 from three in the Milwaukee game which brought his career total for threes to 1,000.
Deandre Ayton needs 11 more blocks to reach 200 for his career.
Important Future Dates
May 16 - Regular season ends.
May 18 to 21 - Play-in tournament for 7-to-10 seeds.
May 22 - First-round playoffs begin.
June 7 - Conference semifinals begin.
June 21-27 - NBA Draft Combine.
June 22 - NBA Draft Lottery. Conference Finals begin.
July 8-22 - NBA Finals.
July 29 - NBA Draft.
August 2 - 2021-22 season Free Agency period begins (6 pm ET).
August 6 - Moratorium ends. Free agents can officially be signed.
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Who do you trust most to have the ball in his hands at the end of a close game?”
39.6% - Devin Booker.
28.8% - Chris Paul.
00.8% - Someone else.
30.8% - It depends on the specific situation.
A total of 250 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Was drafting Jalen Smith a mistake?
This poll is closed
It’s still too early to judge.