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COTS2: Inside the Suns - Topics: JaVale McGee, Landry Shamet, Nader or Craig?

Your weekly Inside the Suns analysis straight from the BSotS community who live and breathe the team.

2021 NBA Finals - Game Two Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.

Let me start off with... congratulations to Devin Booker on his first Olympic Gold Medal! He’s the first Suns player to bring home a Gold medal since Jason Kidd in 2000.

Secondly, some specifics on CP3’s new contract are out!

This just came out early this morning and I haven’t had time to give it much thought yet but it looks like a very good deal for both sides. Expect more on this later.

And now, back to matters pertaining to the upcoming NBA season.

With the addition of Elfrid Payton, the 2021-22 Suns’ pre-training camp roster is up to 14 and their current depth chart probably looks something like this:

  • Point Guard: Chris Paul/Cameron Payne/Elfrid Payton
  • Shooting Guard: Devin Booker/Landry Shamet/Abdel Nader
  • Small Forward: Mikal Bridges/Cameron Johnson/Abdel Nader
  • Power Forward: Jae Crowder/Cameron Johnson/Jalen Smith
  • Center: Deandre Ayton/JaVale McGee/Frank Kaminsky/Jalen Smith

There’s a lot of room for variations in lineups with many players likely taking on different positional roles depending upon specific game circumstances. Versatility is always an advantage. Although regular season rosters are limited to 15 players (plus 2 two-ways), teams can carry up to 20 players (plus 2 two-ways) during the offseason so expect even more roster additions on non- or partially-guaranteed contracts before training camps open on Sept. 28.

And next... 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 - JaVale McGee: Could the Suns have done better for the same price?

GuarGuar: I think getting JaVale for that price is a great deal. He really fits what we need as a backup center. Great rim roller and offers good rim protection. Hard to ask for much more for 5 million a year. Really could’ve used him this past season.

Sun-Arc: I think JaVale is as good as we could get for that price. He may not be the brightest tool in the toolshed (yes that was intended), but he works hard, is a good defender, can actually hit outside shots from time to time, and will not mess up team chemistry. He also has a lot of playoff experience and is a 3-time champion. I think he was the best value for the price.

SDKyle: Probably not by much. I like JaVale McGee. His best days are behind him and he doesn’t have any really high level skills, but he’s still an athletic 270 lb guy who has a pretty good instinct for defense.

Alex S: I’m going to say no on this one simply for the fact there’s a very limited amount of players who fit what the Suns were seemingly looking for at the backup C position. Was McGee a potential overpay? Maybe a little bit.

But I’m not going to lose sleep over paying a 3x champ a few million and could potentially play a big factor for matchups in the playoffs. He’ll also be yet another lob threat for CP3 and Book, so you presumably could have 48 straight minutes of lob threats on the court with DA and JaVale.

Rod: For the same price, I doubt the Suns could have done better. Add the fact that CP3 was impressed by JaVale during the Suns’ playoff series with the Nuggets and likely pushed Phoenix to go after him, McGee was a very good pickup for them as a backup 5.

He knows his role and should get feed lobs regularly near the basket. I hate to say this but he might actually have better hands than DA when it comes to catching and finishing off lob passes.

Q2 - Abdul Nadar vs Torrey Craig: Which would you preferred to have retained (and why)?

GuarGuar: I would’ve definitely preferred to keep Craig over Nader but Craig was definitely going to cost more. Nader for cheaper is probably better from a team building standpoint as it lets us acquire more. I loved having Craig and the intensity he brought. His offensive rebounding and hustle was much needed many times this season. I wish we could have kept Torrey but I understand he was too expensive.

Sun-Arc: Tough question because Nader seems like a somewhat smarter and more aggressive player on offense, but Craig has more size and is a ball hound. I really like both of them at the lower price point. I’d have to go with Craig in the end because of the size and playoff experience he carries.

But here is why I am looking forward to seeing more of Nader:

Abdel looked really good in the regular season. Craig was picked up to replace Nader after his knee injury mid-season. The team then went on to change to a more switching defense in the last month or so of the season in order to get ready for the post season. When Nader came back from injury he looked kind of lost on defense - like he did not know where to be. He had never practiced that brand of defense with the team, so this makes sense.

I think with a proper off-season he will meld with the team more - and obviously wanted to remain with the Suns. He can defend very well and we can really use more of his attacking the rim and getting to the line. I think he’ll be a great SF between Shamet and Johnson, with his defense, rim running, and perimeter shooting.

SDKyle: Hard call... but I guess I would prefer to keep Nader. I think he has more all around skills than Craig, and is still on the right side of 30. Craig’s rebounding skills are nice to have... but that’s the way things go.

Alex S: It’s tough because Torrey was an impactful member of the team and he seems to be the clear choice. However, he is starting to get a bit older and the Pacers were willing to overpay a bit for his services and I am a fan of Nader’s game. The Suns lacked slashing in the playoffs so having ‘Pyramid Papi’ out there could be a plus.

Rod: I’m really 50/50 on this one. Nader is a bit better shooting from three but Craig was a better rebounder and really crashed the boards going after offensive rebs. Craig was a bit taller but Nader had the longer wingspan and was listed as being 4 pounds heavier than TC so I think those things kind of equal out. I have to give the edge to TC mostly based on his rebounding though. Adding JaVale’s rebounding to the bench should compensate for the boards that TC won’t be getting this season though.

Q3 - Landry Shamet: What do you see his role on the team being?

GuarGuar: I think Landry will take the minutes that Carter/Galloway/Nader split throughout the regular season. Whether he becomes a part of our playoff rotation is a different story. But he’s a very promising young player who is a heck of a shooter and will fit great with our squad.

Sun-Arc: This is by far the best backup Booker has had. I think his role will be mostly to spread the floor with the bench (and some minutes with the starters as rotations go). I also think he will be asked to be a bit of a Booker-lite, to create shots a bit, and to help facilitate the offense a little bit. Lastly, I think he will be the bench’s outlet option at the end of the shot clock on the perimeter. He can get his shot off in a hurry and in close proximity to a defender.

I imagine plays with Payne trying to get into the paint, passing to Nader as he cuts to the rim, and with both cut off one of them finds Shamet (or Johnson) open on the perimeter for the shot. That sort of thing. Though Shamet can cut and do a little bit of getting to the rim as well. He could just as easily be the one passing outside to Payne, Johnson, or Nader.

SDKyle: I see Landry as playing a sniper role from the bench, and a guy who isn’t really true 3 and D guy but who can be reasonably trusted to guard PGs and smaller SGs. He should probably see some minutes next to Chris Paul to maximize his catch and shoot skills.

Alex S: He’ll be the backup 2 to Booker and be depended on for volume 3 point shooting. With the Suns, hopefully he’s able to improve his defense due to being in a good scheme and having talented defenders around him. I think the move is solid as he won’t be difficult to incorporate into the lineup so doubling down on continuity isn’t a bad idea in my opinion.

Where I worry a bit is if he’s going to be picked on in the playoffs defensively. If he’s constantly getting switched onto and can’t defend 1 on 1, he becomes borderline unplayable, especially if he isn’t hitting his shot.

Rod: I don’t see him as having a really big role but he will have an important one in spelling Book. He can’t replicate what Book does offensively but his ability to hit catch and shoot threes should work out very well in Monty’s .5 system. 73% of his shot attempts for the Nets were three pointers and 98.4% were assisted. If he sticks with that role on the Suns he should have success in Phoenix.

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.)

Interesting Suns Stuff

What’s Going On With Every NBA Player Drafted Above Devin Booker?

Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “Getting Landry Shamet via trade was...

86% - A good deal for the Suns.

14% - Not good enough. I’d rather have Jevon Carter and the 29th pick.

A total of 483 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


Elfrid Payton is...

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Going to be a regular part of Monty’s player rotation.
    (63 votes)
  • 83%
    Mostly insurance for times when CP3 or Cam Payne are injured.
    (320 votes)
383 votes total Vote Now

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