Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Each week the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders - give their takes on the Suns’ latest issues and news. How do their opinions match up with yours?
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - What do you think Devin Booker has to do to have a legitimate shot at MVP this year?
GuarGuar: He would basically have to keep up the level of play in his first 4 games. And even then he probably wouldn’t have any narrative by the media. They would much rather give it to Luka, Ja, Tatum than Booker. He’d truly have to have an insane season to win MVP.
OldAz: This will not be a popular opinion on this site, but I cannot convince myself there is ANY scenario that would lead to Devin Booker winning MVP this year. Even if Devin has the best stats with the highest efficiency and is clearly the leader of the best regular season team at the end of the season - I still don’t think he will win. This is an award voted on and decided by sportswriters and broadcasters and for many, the cloud of last year’s ending will hang over Devin (and any other Suns player) until a different narrative can be formed, and that can only happen with playoff success.
Some voters will be able to separate this season from last, but the faction that cannot get past last season’s ending will be significant enough to keep Devin from the MVP, even if he is clearly deserves it. For proof, just listen to the broadcast of any national Suns game so far, where they are up huge in the game, but the commentators simply have to find a way to weave in a discussion of last year’s collapse. I really hope I am wrong, but I just can’t envision it happening despite Devin’s incredibly great start to the season.
Cliff30: He either needs to lead the league in scoring on really good shooting splits or up his assists by a significant margin. While CP3 is here leading the league in scoring seems like the far likelier scenario. If he could be around 30 ppg on 50/40/90 splits and we have the best record in the league again, I think he’d have a real shot at MVP.
Rod: I really think that Book is going to have crazy-good stats before he gets serious consideration for MVP. There are still a lot of fools out there that blame the Suns being bad during his first few years in the league on him not being able to carry the team to more wins. But how could anyone have carried a team mostly made up of G Leaguers and/or fringe NBA guys to wins?
Unless Book really stands way out from the competition, just winning regular season games won’t make much of a difference because of past prejudices because he has such a good supporting cast now. I’d say he has a better chance of winning the Finals and getting the Finals MVP award than winning the regular season MVP award.
Q2 - So far, Torrey Craig’s play off the bench has been a pleasant surprise (at least to me) for the Suns this season. Do you think he can keep it up for the season or is it just a blip on the radar?
GuarGuar: Small sample size for sure but he’s been really good so far this year. Always will come down to his 3pt% and so far so good. But time will tell if this is sustainable or not.
OldAz: Absolutely. Torrey Craig is all about the energy and tenacity, and his contributions in 2021 were initiated by his work on the boards and aggressive defense. his good shooting (so far) is a product of him getting regular minutes and feeling good. While I believe he will go thru ebbs and flows with his shooting success, I believe 100% he can maintain his energy and impact if he gets consistent minutes off the bench this year.
Cliff30: TC is shooting 50% from three and 89% from 2. That’s not going to continue. But I think what he brought in his first stint with the Suns was energy on defense and effort on the boards. That wasn’t quite the same last year. But this year his per possession rebounds are back to 2021 levels. And that’s led to a lot of easy buckets for him. So can he continue to be a positive contributor, yes. Can he be this good for a full season, no.
Rod: Craig’s play so far has been so good that I can’t believe he’ll be able to keep it up for long (especially his shooting percentages) but I’m hopeful we won’t see a huge drop-off in his play. We know he can play better than he did last season and if the eventual drop-off leaves him still above his career averages I’ll be satisfied.
Q3 - Although fans are getting impatient with the Jae Crowder situation, I doubt James Jones will do anything rash to hurry a trade along or try and encourage him to return to the team. When do you think we’ll see a resolution to the problem?
GuarGuar: I honestly am expecting us to hold onto Jae until the trade deadline and then deal him. We are in no rush to get rid of him unless it’s for good value. I know James Jones is monitoring what’s going on in Brooklyn too.
OldAz: I don’t expect anything to happen until after Dec 15, but I think there is a good chance a move will be made at that time otherwise it might not be till closer to the trade deadline in February. Too many teams are still figuring out what they have and what they are willing to give up. The Suns need some teams to decide that this is a lost year and start looking to get rid of long-term contracts that were just signed this summer.
Jae will certainly get traded, and I don’t believe it will be for another player on an expiring contract. In order to maintain a player in that salary slot (or at a larger salary if Jae can be packaged with another player like Saric in a deal), would be for the returning player to be on a multiyear deal that allows the Suns to carry that salary to next year (and beyond).
I believe it is “possible” for Jae to return to the team and then extend him after the season regardless of cap implications (may need Rod to confirm that this). To me, this is what makes Jae returning such an unlikely scenario. The Suns would not only be committing to Jae this season but also essentially “forced” to re-sign him in the off season. Otherwise, he could only be replaced by a minimum salary player if he does leaves on his own.
Cliff30: I think if a team was going to make a big offer for Crowder it would have happened by now.. If James Jones was going to cave and just settle for the best offer out there he’d have done that too. So what we need is a change of circumstances. Either a significant injury that makes a team desperate or new players being able to be moved on December 15th. I think December 15th is the likeliest date.
Rod: I just don’t see anything happening on this any time soon. On Dec. 15, more players around the league will be eligible to be traded so I think this is the earliest that we can expect a trade to happen. At some point between then and the trade deadline, Crowder will be moved though. If nothing happens before deadline day (Feb. 9), I’m not hopeful for a good return though. If it goes that far, Jones might find himself in the situation of just having to take the best offer available rather than just letting his contract expire at the end of the season or eventually doing a buyout.
We’ve seen so little of Dario, I wouldn’t be surprised if we also see him traded with Crowder or perhaps in a separate deal.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Last Week’s poll results
Last week’s question was, “How many wins do you think the Suns will have when they reach 20 games played?”
45% - 15 or more.
52% - 13-14.
03% - 10-12.
00% - Less than 10.
A total of 304 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Jae Crowder will be traded...
This poll is closed
Before Dec. 15.
After Dec. 15 but before the end of January.
At or near the trade deadline (Feb. 9).