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.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Many fans seem to have already given up on CP3. Is it too early to declare the “Point God” MIA?
GuarGuar: I have not given up on CP yet. I still have faith we can squeeze one more very good year out of him. He’s back now from injury and seems to be moving pretty decent. It’s possible the time off was good for him. His IQ and play style don’t rely a ton on athleticism which is a big reason why he’s been so good this late in his career.
OldAz: The answer to most questions is “it depends” and this question is no different. In this case, it depends on what you are expecting from CP3. If you are looking for the CP3 that was otherworldly in the last couple regular seasons, then your expectations probably need an adjustment (or three). However, if you are declaring him done then that’s probably not fair either.
CP3 can still be effective, but will likely be more of a facilitator than a scorer on most nights, and the reduced scoring threat will probably result in a few more turnovers. However, CP3 certainly has room to come off of that high level of play and still be effective on most nights.
Philip: It would be unconscionable to declare Chris Paul “MIA.” If those “many fans” are reading this, take a breath. Touch grass. Relax.
Chris Paul is 37 years old. He’s not going to carry the Suns every night like Devin Booker. That’s not his role. Instead, he needs to facilitate quality offensive sets and decisively pick his moments to shoot and score. For that role, he is clearly capable.
Ethan: I’ve not given up, and I honestly think that it may be out of necessity. I think fans need to have realistic expectations on who he is at this point in his career and what’s being asked of him within the game plan. Is he needing to score 15+ a night? No. Is he expected to play lockdown defense? No. He needs to orchestrate the offense and allow the other 4 guys to thrive in opportunities that best suit them, and often times, his ability on the ball is what allows them to find those opportunities. I think his long rest (aka the mysterious heel) will be beneficial in the long run and I think he can still do what’s needed of him on the court right now. That said, if you think he can be your Number 2 (or even Number 3?) option on offense for a championship team, you may want to think again.
Q2 - The Suns aren’t going to get a great player by trading away expiring contracts and/or bench/lower level rotation players. Do you think this team needs a major shakeup roster-wise to become a serious championship contender?
GuarGuar: They don’t need a serious shakeup but we definitely need to make a significant move before the deadline. This roster has glaring weaknesses that elite teams exploit. I’d look to trade our picks to get the help we need.
OldAz: Once again, “It depends”. In this case it depends on your definition of a major shakeup. Trading anyone and everyone besides Booker or DA falls below that threshold to me. I know to many fans Mikal should be included here too, and I go back and forth on that one. Any trade that keeps that core together should be considered. I reject the premise that the Suns can’t get back a great player in a trade, but will admit that it will take the addition of some significant draft capital to make a deal. The Suns should be willing to give up picks to package expiring contracts and get back a player that contributes as a top 6 player on this roster. Now they just need some teams (Knicks, Wizards, Hawks maybe?) to decide to offload some salary to make room for other players to get playing time.
Philip: The roster as currently constructed, even when it was fully healthy, was never a true championship contender this year. Check out our latest episode of Into the Valley: a Phoenix Suns Podcast for a longer discussion of this topic.
This is not a criticism of Devin Booker, but he’s not the caliber of player that can take the current roster to championship heights. For what it’s worth, I’m not sure there is a player in the league who could.
Because of that, the Suns would have to shake things up dramatically in order to contend this year. What are the ramifications of a move like that? Is that actually a path Suns fans want to explore? Things to think about…
Ethan: I’ve been a pretty loud advocate for the lack of star power on the Suns roster and how that will continue to hold them back. Ayton’s improvement has allowed for my unrealistic expectations on Booker to go down some, but at the end of the day, I still think Booker needs someone else alongside him to get them over the hump. Giannis needs Middleton. Tatum needs Brown. Curry needs... Wiggins? You get my point. Expiring contracts and rotation guys aren’t going to get you one of those pieces, but a Bridges, Ayton, Cam J (borderline) MIGHT. In my opinion, the way the team is built right now isn’t a contender, and that’s more to do with the 1-5 rather than the 6-10.
Q3 - Some fans say that the Suns need a tough guy/enforcer type on the team. Your thoughts?
GuarGuar: Jae was that guy for us but now that he’s gone we don’t really have a dude that talks trash other than Booker. It’s not a necessity for this team we have bigger holes that need to be addressed. I’d rather have good players than guys who are just “tough”.
OldAz: I would love to see a deal for Julius Randle. It is a big swing and may not work, but he fits this enforcer role just fine. However, I am more interested in him because the Suns would have another player who could create his own shot, go off for a big night and carry the team on occasion, and finally have a player that could win 1:1 most nights without the help of a screen to start the motion. Booker is great, but he simply cannot overpower his opponent on most nights like many superstars can. I am not calling Randle a superstar, but he has a number of qualities that the Suns are missing and would find very useful when the game slows down in the playoffs.
Philip: This feels like grasping at straws after getting smacked around by Boston. I’m more interested in seeing the Suns get back to full strength than I am seeing a cosplaying tough guy talk smack and take cheap shots against opposing players.
What the Suns actually need is a bigger wing who can create his own shot. Kyle, you up?
Ethan: Personally... I don’t buy it. If “tough guy/enforcer” translates to “someone who’s good enough on defense to lock up a superstar”, then sure, that’s fine. Using the recent games as an example, a “tough guy” wouldn’t have stopped Luka or Tatum, and I don’t think it would really move the needle in the big picture.
Bonus Q - Is it too late to blow it all up and tank for Wembanyama? (I’m joking... or am I?)
GuarGuar: It is quite unfortunate Wemby wasn’t available during our 10 year lottery stretch. We just missed him by a couple years! Would be a fun year to tank.
OldAz: This one does not “depend” on anything for me. I never want to be a fan of an organization that is “tanking” again. The Suns spent a DECADE in that mode, and it showed me how much I under-appreciated rooting for a Suns team growing up that was always competitive, usually fun, and sometimes on the very cusp of greatness (even if they couldn’t get over the hump). There are no guarantees in life, so I will take a team that is built to compete for the long haul and have a chance over a team that is the odds on favorite once in a decade (or longer).
Philip: I would like to refer those considering tanking back to my response to the first question. Settle down.
Have a good week, Suns fans!
Ethan: The last time I got really vocal about the Suns selecting someone with the Number 1 overall pick, I was violently destroyed on Twitter. I will say, in recent years it DOES seem like taking an incredibly skilled, generational talent (who happens to be succeeding in international basketball) isn’t a bad idea. That said... I would hate to tank for a relative unknown when we can trade away our 1st round pick for a rotation player and a second round pick in 2045.
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, “When Cam Johnson returns...”
26% - He should immediately be put back into the starting lineup.
74% - Monty should have him come off the bench for a while until he shakes off any rust.
A total of 243 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
As a team, do you consider the Suns "soft"?
This poll is closed