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 - Since New Year’s Eve is just a stone’s throw away, what new year’s resolutions would you want Suns players, Monty and/or James Jones to make?
GuarGuar: 1. For Monty: Monty needs to run different pick and roll defensive coverages. We can’t run a drop coverage on every team and player in the NBA. Star guards torch us because of this. He needs to run more than one defensive coverage
2. For James Jones: Our GM needs to finally make a deadline splash. 2 years ago it was obvious we needed a backup center and that crushed us. Last year it was obvious we needed another shot creating guard and that crushed us. This year we need some wing depth and a shot creating/scoring guard/wing. He needs to finally use our picks and make a splash. Chris Paul’s window is almost over.
3. For Deandre Ayton: DA needs to attack the basket way more next year. He settles for that jab step jumpshot way too much. We need to bump our free throw rate as a team and he’s the main guy who can get us there.
OldAz: Monty: Spend more game time developing DA and Mikal, running the offense through them.
JJ: Acquire a top 8 rotation player (hopefully a PF) in exchange for picks and expiring contracts.
Booker: continue your growth by trusting your non-CP3 teammates more in crunch time (and give them room to fail and then keep trying).
DA: Find the balance between staying aggressive, but calming your mind and body down in the process.
Mikal: To run/initiate the offense more.
CP3: Age gracefully by raising the game of your teammates so that you have fewer times where you have to “take over” and then it takes multiple games to recover.
Philip: To the players, please get healthy. I miss watching the fully healthy Suns.
To the front office, please find big, skilled players to help this team. They could really use it.
To the fans, please calm down. You guys are exhausting, especially after bad games.
Ethan: My NY Resolutions:
For James Jones: Trade Jae Crowder. Please. Just get it over with.
For Monty Williams: Get the playoff rotations figured out by March 1st.
For the entire team: JUST. STAY. HEALTHY.
For the entire fan base: Let 2023 be the year we chill a little bit. Do we need to implode when we lose 3 games with an injury ridden roster? Nah, probably not. Do we still need to yell at Ayton for a layup instead of a dunk? Ehh, that’s a no. Should the answer to every problem be: “LaNDry ShAMeT Is pLAyinG ToO MucH!!!”? Nope. Let’s just chill. We’ve got a good team full of likable players who just need to heal up. We’re good. Let’s enjoy the team, enjoy our community of Suns fans, and watch some hoops.
Rod: For everyone: Stay focused and play every minute like it’s the final 2 minutes of game 7 in the Finals.
For Book: Don’t try to play hurt or come back too soon after an injury!
For Monty: Be more creative. Don’t wait until it’s necessary to try new things.
Q2 - We don’t really know anything for certain about how the new owner will run the Suns organization. What would be your top bit of advice you would would give him if you could?
GuarGuar: My only two pieces of advice for our new owner are be willing to pay a luxury tax and let our GM and coaches do their job. Basically we need you be the complete opposite of Sarver the past two decades.
OldAz: Pay attention to the history of the Suns and honor it. Suns fans will love you for it forever. Donating to Bright Side night was a good first step. Adding The Matrix and Jerry Colangelo to the RoH would be another good step. I will save any basketball advice about being aggressive to win a championship, as I assume this was a major motivation in his acquiring the team anyway.
Philip: Communicate the team’s direction.
It has to be a tricky balance owning a sports franchise. They, the franchises, are incredible long-term investments, but there’s always the possibility of immediate short-term gains as well, especially when a team reaches elite levels of success.
That said, the franchise as a whole needs to know the direction of the team. Are they selling out for a championship? Is there a bigger picture in mind that the franchise is working towards? What are the specific goals for this year? Next year? The next five?
Clarity of direction will lead to clarity of purpose, and that will do wonders for morale. This franchise, from top to bottom, could benefit from a steadily increasing morale.
Ethan: Don’t ever bring goats into your GM’s office. Also, don’t be a horrible human. Both of those things should set you on the right track.
If you see a window of opportunity, take it. I think this fan base would all agree that we’d rather see you go out and try to make something happen (even if it leads to failure at times), then you sitting on your hands, happy to see your team make it to the playoffs year after year.
Rod: Three pieces of advice from me...
1. Pay the tax. Don’t make decisions based on cost and spend whatever it takes to get the Suns back to the Finals.
2. Let the people working for you (front office folks and coaches) do their jobs and don’t try to micromanage things.
3. Wash away the last lingering stench of the Sarver regime and get rid of the last of the people in the Suns organization that embraced Sarver’s brand of misbehavior.
Q3 - Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale, Damion Lee and Josh Okogie are all playing on expiring minimum salary deals. If the Suns could only keep one on the roster next season, which one would be your choice?
GuarGuar: I’d keep Jock out of all those guys. He’s really impressed and surprised me this season. It’s unfortunate the 3 ball hasn’t dropped at all for him, but his offensive skills are very noteworthy and very valuable for this team. His defense is also pretty ok and I think he’s a great backup center. I definitely prefer him over Biz.
OldAz: I reject this premise, that the Suns will only be able to keep one. However, I will play the game and answer the question. for me it would be Okogie. Shooters like Lee can be found, backup Centers are harder to find, but they are only going to play 10-12 minutes a game as long as DA is around. Okogie brings something(s) that Suns teams have always needed more of: Athleticism, Energy, & Defense. For a player just on the outside of the top 8 rotation, this is exactly the type of player the Suns should retain.
Philip: Forcing us to pick between a win-now player in Damion Lee (30) and a possible project in Josh Okogie (24) is cruel. But, the answer has to be Damion Lee. His three point shooting is unbelievable at times and really good all the time. He is a capable-enough defender and has the ability to attack closeouts with greater consistency and intention than Josh.
While Josh showed moments of brilliance the last few weeks, Damion fits better in the twilight of Chris Paul’s career and in the brilliance of Devin Booker’s prime.
Ethan: As much as I’d love to say Damion Lee, and give him the praise he’s earned this season, I’d have to say Okogie. The ONLY reason that I’m picking Okogie is his age. He is still only 24, and I think the Suns can try to develop him into a piece that complements the current core.
Biyombo and Jock both seem to be lovely people, but neither one of them are remotely close to being irreplaceable. The only skill set that’s a significant loss is Bizzy’s rim protection, but even that is quickly negated the moment another team pulls him out to the perimeter. Lee has been wonderful in his role this year, and MAYBE I’m wrong. Maybe this team needs more added stability within the vets of the group around the young core, like what Iguoadala or Livingston (or Lee) brought to the Warriors.
Final answer: Okogie (while quietly whispering Damion Lee).
Rod: It’s not a really easy question to answer but I’d pick Josh Okogie. The guy has an unstoppable motor, plays his ass off every minute, is a great defender and a surprisingly good rebounder for a guard. If he had a reliable 3-pt shot, he could be starting somewhere in the league (and he actually did start in 123 games for Minnesota).
Hopefully, the Suns won’t have to make a choice like this but Okogie, Lee and Landale all may be playing themselves into contract offers higher than league minimums next season and the Suns don’t have full Bird rights on any of them (NO Bird rights on Okogie and Lee, only early Bird rights on Landale and Biyombo) which limits them on what they can offer each salary-wise next season. With their cap situation the way it is, they will possibly have to make some choices between the 4 if any of them get higher free agent offers from other teams.
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, “Do you think the description of the Suns as “Devin Booker and a bunch of high-end role players” is a fair one?”
55% - Yes.
45% - No.
A total of 310 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Which would be your top choice if the Suns could only keep one?
This poll is closed