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Center of the Sun: Surviving December

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

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New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Current Record: 18-12

Offensive Rating: 116.2 (3rd)

Defensive Rating: 111.4 (11th)

Net Rating: +4.8 (4th)

Power Ranking:

I’ll start by saying, “daaaaaaaaaaaaamn CBS Sports!”. I get the Suns have had a rough December — the exact opposite of those ribbon-on-a-car Lexus ‘December to Remember’ campaigns — but 14th in your power rankings? Pass the dutchie ‘pon the left hand side, homies.

When you lose to the Houston Rockets, a team that has now won a total of 9 games, and you account for two of their victories, you deserve a little “14th in the Power Rankings” disrespect.

If you told me that the Suns would post a 2-1 record during Week 9, I would’ve bet my house, my truck, and one of my dogs that one of those victories would be against the Rockets. I’m glad I didn’t, because who wants to be homeless and lonely at Christmas?

Phoenix lost to Houston, then defeated a depleted Los Angeles Clippers team, and Devin Booker put an exclamation point on a 24-point comeback against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. Yeah, Week 9 was a crazy one.

So what do we learn?

Have you ever seen the show I Survived…? It is presently available on Hulu and chronicles three parallel stories of people who have survived life-threatening ordeals. The bulk of them involve a house invasion or a near-fatal murder, but every now and then you’ll come across one in where someone gets lost at sea. For days on end. Floating on the ocean, yearning for aid but accepting that it may never arrive. It does, however, arrive in the end.

That’s where the Suns are right now. Floating aimlessly. Staying above water.

Devin Booker’s performance on Saturday was nothing short of incredible. As his team continued to hopelessly shoot three-pointers, resulting in one-and-done possessions and allowing the Pelicans to extend their advantage, Devin Booker seized control of the game. He scored 58 points and deleted what would have been a heartbreaking loss.

Phoenix is fortunate to have someone as skilled and efficient as Devin Booker on their team.

What he did is unsustainable, however. And that’s where it feels like we are lost at sea. The roster requires some adjustments, but more importantly, it must get healthy. From an offensive load sense, Booker must be relieved of the burden. A regular wing scorer is needed to relieve pressure on Booker. Mikal Bridges has potential, and seeing as he is in his fourth year, he may develop into that wing. But he’s not there yet, at least consistently.

It becomes really frigid at night. During the day, the sun is a nuisance. But the day will come, maybe soon, when we can say, “I survived”. Survived the first half of the 2022-23 season, which was riddled with injuries and depth difficulties. One in which the team was still ranked fourth in the Western Conference.

One that ends in a championship.

Player of the Week

Josh Okogie

9.3 points, 7.3 rebounds (3.3 offensive rebounds), 2 assists

Yes, Devin Booker and his 36 points per game in Week 9 should be recognized. When Book’s gas runs out, there’s always Josh Okogie, chugging along and having an influence on the game. His 9.3 points were the 4th most on the team this past week, and his value as a motor-guy has been invaluable, especially at the end of the Pelicans game.

Okogie snagged three crucial offensive rebounds in the closing minutes against New Orleans, allowing the Suns to score 8 second chance points in the fourth. The Pelicans had 0.

Prior to the Pelicans’ performance, Okogie had an impressive double-double against the Clippers.

If we are talking price-for-value-paid, Okogie is atop the list in Phoenix. Injuries have generated opportunities, and while his shooting numbers left much to be desired (39.8 FG%, 25 3PT% on the year), his defensive influence has allowed him to capitalize on those opportunities.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets (L, 111-97) FULL RECAP

Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Clippers (W, 111-95) FULL RECAP

Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans (W, 118-114) FULL RECAP

Highlights/Post Game Podcasts


393. Suns (16-12) @ Rockets Post Game Pod:


394. Suns (17-12) @ Clippers Post Game Pod:


395. Suns (18-12) vs. Pelicans Post Game Pod:

News & Notes

Basketball Network: “I don’t get that to this day, like the whole sportsmanship”- Mikal Bridges speaks on Zion Williamson’s controversial end-of-game dunk against the Phoenix Suns

Fan Nation: Despite Suns’ Recent Struggles, Deandre Ayton’s Stock Keeps Rising

Arizona Sports: Chris Paul graduates from Winston-Salem State, gifts fellow classmates $2,500

Bleacher Report: NBA Rumors: Jae Crowder, John Collins Linked to Suns, Hawks, Jazz 3-Team Trade

Clutch Points: DeMarcus Cousins throws shade on Suns star Chris Paul with Top 5 praise for Lakers’ Russell Westbrook

Burn City Sports: Fans react to the Phoenix Suns first win since December 4th

AZ Central: Report: Group with potential Peter Thiel backing bids $3B for Suns, Mercury

AP News: Ex-NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire charged with punching daughter

Quotes of the Week

“Josh Okogie goes to the basket, dunks, gets smacked in the face and no call. I’m not sure what to tell the guys anymore.” — Monty Williams

“The (Pelicans) have an echo in there. They know it and I know it” — Eddie Johnson

“When you know your goal, along the journey, there are going to be bumps. So you can’t now change your goals based on the bumps that you’re dealing with like overreacting, fans. Relax. Take a deep breath.” — Bismack Biyombo

“Just a relief.” — Monty Williams after defeating the Clippers

“Long time coming.” — Chris Paul on graduating from Winston-Salem State University

“He’s looked good. I’ve been checking him out in the weight room, watching him do things in there, and then coming out shooting with us. Obviously a huge step.” — Torrey Craig on Cam Johnson working his way back

“Don’t get me started on that. I’m going to have to hear about that for a long time. My dad for sure. He’s probably waiting in the hallway right now. He won’t even smile. I’m serious.” — Devin Booker on missing five free throws during his 58-point performance

Key Stat


Number of quarters in Devin Booker’s career in which he has scored 20+ points.

(h/t @SoSaysJ)

Injury Status Report

Devin Booker (groin soreness) is QUESTIONABLE

Deandre Ayton (left ankle sprain) is QUESTIONABLE

Jock Landale (concussion protocols) is QUESTIONABLE

Cameron Payne (foot) is OUT

Duane Washington, Jr. (hip) is OUT

Cameron Johnson (right meniscus) is NO TIME TABLE FOR RETURN

Jae Crowder (waiting to be traded) is NOT WITH TEAM

This Week in Suns History

December 23, 1989

What is the Suns’ all-time wining percentage? After their victory on Saturday against the Pelicans, the team is 2,335-2,026 in the regular season. That is a winning percentage of .535.

The team has not been below a .500 winning percentage in 33 years. Yes, despite a decade of misery from 2011-2020, the team has kept their head above water since the Bush administration. The first Bush. You know, the “no new taxes” guy.

It all started on December 23, 1989, when the Suns defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 104-100. That win, which pushed the Suns’ record to 10-12 on the season, was victory number 869 for the franchise against 868 losses. The team would catch fire, winning 44 of their final 60 games.

And the franchise has yet to fall under .500 since.

Utah Jazz v Phoenix Suns Photo by Andrew D. BernsteinNBAE via Getty Images

Suns Trivia

Where do the Suns stand in NBA history in terms of regular-season winning percentage?

  1. San Antonio Spurs: .611
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: .592
  3. Boston Celtics: .590
  4. Utah Jazz: .545
  5. Phoenix Suns: .535

The worst winning percentage of all time? The Minnesota Timberwolves at .399.

Upcoming Games

Monday, December 19 — Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Tuesday, December 20 — Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards

Friday, December 23— Phoenix Suns vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Sunday, December 25— Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets

The Suns’ Week 10 schedule opens with a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. What a fascinating matchup it will be. The Lakers enter with a 12-16 record and are 5-5 in their last 10. But...

Unsurprisingly, Anthony Davis will not play in this game.

Surprisingly, Phoenix’s list of unavailable players is as extensive as Santa’s naughty list. Devin Booker has groin pain soreness (so many jokes, so little time), Jock Landale is in concussion protocol, and Deandre Ayton’s condition is still unknown. If you’re hoping for a big primetime clash versus a Pacific Division foe, you won’t find it this year in mid-December.

The second night of a back-to-back pits the Suns against the Washington Wizards. Washington carries with them a 11-19 record, good for the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference.

Here is my recommendation: The Wizards are currently on a 9-game losing streak. Take advantage of that.

Washington will most likely land in Phoenix on Monday night. James Jones needs to meet with Kyle Kuzma and have a nice lunch, maybe taking him to Pizzeria Bianco for some crispy wood fired pizza. Maye get nostalgic on him. Take him to Majerle’s and get him the Gorilla Wings.

But whatever you do, trade for him. Don’t let the Wizards depart from Sky Harbor with Kyle Kuzma on board.

Week 10’s third game will be against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Memphis Grizzlies, like the New Orleans Pelicans, are a youthful and feisty basketball club. Ja Morant is a rising star, they have a plethora of complementing players, they can defeat you physically, and they can beat you athletically.

They are currently atop the Western Conference with a 19-10 record. They are 6th in points (116.2) and 10th in opposing points (111.4). Like Phoenix, they are vulnerable on the road, as they are 6-8.

We close the week in a very merry fashion, heading to Denver on Christmas and facing a franchise that will never forget Jamal Murray’s absence from the playoffs two years ago. I’m not sure if prime Kobe could have helped that squad, but don’t tell that to a Nuggets fan.

It will be the first time that Jamal Murray has played against the Phoenix Suns since he traveled his way to victory against the Suns on January 23, 2021.

Murray has been less potent this season, averaging 18 points on 44.4/35.4/77.9 splits.

It will be the final stocking stuffer on the day, as the teams take play at 8:30pm on ESPN. It’s a week away, so we don’t know the status of player availability. But know that Denver, currently 17-11 and just ahead of the Suns in the standings, will be gunning for Phoenix.

Typically Suns fans have a good turn out at Ball Arena, but like New Orleans, they’ll be looking for blood. They’ll be looking for vengeance. They’ll be using this game as justification for their early exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

Weekly Prediction: 3-1

I’m feeling optimistic this week. I’ve been correct in predicting the Suns’ record the last two weeks. Sure, the games have been wrong, but the record has been right! I’ll take victories wherever I can.

Let’s make it three in a row.

Phoenix will go 3-1 this week. They win the first two against L.A. and Washington without much trouble. The Suns are solid at home, currently 13-3 at the ‘Print. This will come in handy against Memphis. They’ll have some trouble with Ja and the Griz, but ultimately win.

They’ll lose on Christmas night in Denver. Why? Because as Arizona sports fans, we’re not allowed to have nice things, especially on the holiest of nights. Remember last year? The Suns lost to the Warriors then the Cardinals lost to the Colts. The same will happen next Sunday.

The team struggles on the road (5-9), there’s the elevation factor, and Denver will care more about the game than Phoenix. So 3-1 it is.

Bright Side nation was wrong last week. 52% believed the Suns would end 1-2 in Week 9, with 24% choosing 2-1. What will it be this week?


What will the Week 10 record be for Phoenix?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    (18 votes)
  • 26%
    (31 votes)
  • 54%
    (64 votes)
  • 2%
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now

You did it. You survived another edition of Center of the Sun. You sat at your computer, scrolled on your phone, or had someone read it to you. Yay you!

Enjoy the hustle and bustle that exists this time of year. Soon it will be 2023.


I was browsing through boxes on Saturday as I cleaned out the garage, coming across old pictures and cards for days of yore. High school dances in 1999, pictures of my days in the Army. Time, she flies. Appreciate these moments. Everything is temporary. Everything.

See you next week!

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