Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Current Record: 16-8
Offensive Rating: 117.3 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: 110.2 (6th)
Net Rating: +7.2 (2nd)
It feels like the calm before the storm, doesn’t it?
The past week of Suns basketball – a long one considering there were five games in eight nights – pitted them against teams in the basement of their respective conferences. Phoenix navigated it well, posting a 3-2 record, maintaining their standing as the best team in the Western Conference.
But a storm is coming. Both on the schedule, and in life.
December brings us the Christmas season, and whether you celebrate it or not, it’s everywhere. The people, the kerfuffle, the stress, and the expectations. Go ahead. Make the mistake of thinking a quick trip to Target at Desert Ridge will be just that. Quick. News flash: it isn’t’!
The same can be said about Suns basketball. The upcoming schedule is fast and furious filled with tough competition and national eyes upon the purple and orange. The Suns are already amidst the fury, and they’re getting noticed as well.
The week began with all of the flowers.
Deandre Ayton was named Western Conference Player of the Week. Not to be out done, Devin Booker earned Western Conference Player of the Month. Mix in some Western Conference Coach of the Month for Monty Williams and James Jones receiving a promotion to President of Basketball Operations and General manger, and despite Suns’ highlights being buried on SportsCenter, the organization is getting the well-earned respect it should.
With accolades, muck akin to the holiday season, comes expectation.
What Phoenix has working against them right now is the infection of the injury bug. Chris Paul remains out. Torrey Craig now joins his fellow power forwards Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder as players who are missing time.
As we jingle all the way, we must take time to understand exactly what is occurring. Phoenix isn’t at full strength. Yet they’re still winning games. That shows you how valuable the depth and the organic chemistry this organization has built over the past three years is.
They are successful, not purely due to talent but due to the organizational structure that exists. I don’t know what James Jones’ newest promotion means, but whatever it is, it’s well deserved in my opinion. Has he had some misses? Sure, every GM does. But you look at this team as constructed with the injuries they’ve navigated and you can’t help but be grateful that this team is at the top of the Western Conference.
Player of the Week
33.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists
58.9 FG%, 54.2 3PT%, 87.5 FT%
In five games this past week, we witnessed D Book eclipse the 40-point mark three times. Had the team not blown out the Spurs, he may have done it a fourth time. Yes, we are left with a bad Booker game against the Mavericks still fresh in our minds, one in which he went 0-of-7 from the field in the first and didn’t score a Q1 point for the first time in 202 games. Do not let that deter you from the amazing week Booker had.
What we are seeing early on from Booker is special. He has 681 points through the first 24 games of the season. A Suns record. He is averaging a career-high 28.4 points. Could be a Suns record if that is where he finishes. He is just shy of the elusive 50/40/90 splits as he is at 49/39/87.
Booker is putting this team on his back. He is carrying them through the early part of this season. Sure, he won’t win MVP. The narrative isn’t there. But he’s our MVP. He puts his head down, gets the job done, and doesn’t have to scream into the camera every time he makes a three-pointer in the second quarter (looking at you Curry).
He’s special. And I’m honored that he’s a Sun.
Not worry about the award. He isn’t “YouTube-able”; no one watches a guy hit 15-footers. And that’s okay. Let people watch Steph dance around like a clown or LeBron over-react to every play. Go get the ‘chip Book.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) December 5, 2022
Phoenix Suns vs. Chicago Bulls (W, 132-115) FULL RECAP
Phoenix Suns vs. Houston Rockets (L, 122-121) FULL RECAP
Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs (W, 133-95) FULL RECAP
Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks (L, 130-111) FULL RECAP
Highlights/Post Game Podcasts
SUNS at KINGS | NBA FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 28, 2022:
385. Suns (14-6) @ Kings Post Game Pod:
BULLS at SUNS | NBA FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 30, 2022:
386. Suns (15-6) vs. Bulls Post Game Pod:
ROCKETS at SUNS | NBA FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 2, 2022:
387. Suns (15-7) vs. Rockets Post Game Pod:
SUNS at SPURS | NBA FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 4, 2022:
388. Suns (16-7) @ Spurs Post Game Pod:
SUNS at MAVERICKS | NBA FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 5, 2022:
389. Suns (16-8) @ Mavs Post Game Pod:
News & Notes
The Athletic: Devin Booker unplugged: On Suns’ offseason, haters, motivation and MVP race he’s ‘not even in’
Burn City Sports: Devin Booker Crowned Western Conference Player of the Month
Fan Nation: Patrick Beverley Says He Received ‘No Smoke’ From Suns Players After Shoving DeAndre Ayton
Arizona Sports: Devin Booker finds himself in a mess of an NBA MVP race
NBA.com: Suns Promote James Jones to President of Basketball Operations an General Manager
Fan Nation: Suns PG Cam Payne Emotional After Loss to Rockets
Burn City Sports: This is the Deandre Ayton Phoenix has been Waiting On
Quotes of the Week
“If you play at this level of intensity, it’s a wrap.” — Monty Williams on Deandre Ayton
“I think the Utah game I was getting a little frustrated. Just telling the ref, I’m not preaching I’m first team (All Defense). Just asking for a little more respect sometimes.” — Mikal Bridges
“Jae is a good player and he’d help any team and teams know that.” — James Jones
“It is. I don’t know what to do. I’m in that corner like, ‘Dang, I didn’t talk to the 20 other people who were here. Now I gotta say something.’” — Mikal Bridges on being without Cameron Johnson
“I think I just hyperextended it a little bit, but I’m alright.” — Mikal Bridges
“Every day I wake up grateful for the opportunity to play, and I’ve never lost sight of that, back from being the little kid who wanted to be in the NBA. And I haven’t lost sight of those kids that are up in the stands that might be seeing me for the first time.” — Devin Booker
Offensive rebounds for the Suns, 9th in the NBA.
Last season the sun's average 9.8, good for 19th in the league. The improvement of Deandre Ayton, despite not having much size around him, has allowed Phoenix to extend their possessions. He and his teammates have been dedicated to crashing the offensive glass, avoiding one-and done-possessions for the team. What was once a weakness has slowly became a strength.
Injury Status Report
Chris Paul (heel) is OUT, will be reevaluated this week. Again.
Torrey Craig (groin) is OUT
Cameron Johnson (right meniscus) is NO TIME TABLE FOR RETURN
Jae Crowder (don’t cry for me Argentina) is NOT WITH TEAM
This Week in Suns History
December 10, 1982
40 years ago, the Suns were a 53-29 team under the tutelage of head coach John MacLeod. It wasn’t an easy start for that team, however, as they found themselves 11-9 and on a five-game losing streak in early December 1982.
Hmmm. I was two months old.
From November 27 to December 8, the Suns scored just 98.8 points-per-game while giving up 106.6 points. But on December 10, they broke that streak with a well-rounded team performance against the lowly 3-16 Houston Rockets.
No starter for the Rockets scored in double figures as Phoenix won 97-83. Conversely, five Suns — four of them starters — scored over 10 points, with Maurice Lucas leading all scorers with 17. He also led all rebounders with 13.
Maurice Lucas, better known as “Mo”, was a solid contributor during his time as a member of the Phoenix Suns. He won a title with the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers, and earned a spot in the 1983 All Star Game with the Suns as he averaged 17.6 points and 10.5 rebounds by the break.
Lucas played for Phoenix for 3 years, eventually being traded to the rival Los Angeles Lakers in 1985 for a couple of picks, one of which became Steve Kerr.
Wednesday, December 7 — Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics
Friday, December 9 — Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Pelicans
Sunday, December 11 — Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Pelicans
Ignore the graphic above, as I originally planned to publish this yesterday.
Last week was an easy slate. This week will be much, much more challenging, as does the stretch for the remainder of December. The combined winning percentage of this week’s opposition? A cool 72.9%.
The Suns are second in net rating this season. They are playing the team the is first (Boston, +8.5) and third (New Orleans, +6.9) this week. Happy, happy, joy, joy.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) December 6, 2022
The Celtics are the best team in the Eastern Conference. At 20-5, they’re the best team in the league. They’re deep. They’re long. They’re healthy. If you think the wings were a challenge against the Mavericks, wait until you see Boston.
Jayson Tatum, winner of the Eastern Conference Player of the Month, has elevated his game. Much akin to Devin Booker, he too has suffered defeat in the NBA Finals. He too is a gold medalist. He too is playing inspired basketball. His 30.8 points is 6th best in the NBA, and he is adding 8.3 rebounds a night.
Next to him is a mid-range challenge in Jaylen Brown. He’s averaging 26.7 points (that’s right...Tatum and Brown account for 57.5 points a night, easily the highest duo in the NBA) and doing so on 50.4% from the field. The team is shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc. THE TEAM!!! If you put them on the line, they are leading the NBA with 84.4 FT%.
Buckle up. Boston will be a handful.
And then it’s off to the Big Easy for two against the Pelicans, the hottest team in the NBA. While Boston is top heavy relative to scoring, it is a balanced and talented attack from the entire New Orleans squad that awaits Phoenix for two games in three days.
Zion is back, averaging 23.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, creating havoc in the lane. And he’s only getting hotter.
Zion Williamson over the last 4 Games:— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 5, 2022
Pelicans 4-0. pic.twitter.com/CofFJsxn1d
Brandon Ingram (20.8 points), CJ McCollum (17.4 points), and Jonas Valanciunas (13.4 points, 9 rebounds) are hungry and looking for revenge for last year’s post season.
The biggest challenge for the Suns will be on the boards, as the Pelicans are one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA. Phoenix is middle of the pack, and seeing as they are already undersized on the interior — and injured as well —the Pelicans will crash the glass and do their best to negate second chance opportunities for the Suns while creating second chance opportunities for themselves.
You also have to do your best to take care of the ball. the Pelicans are second best in the league when it comes to steals, averaging 8.8 per game. Remember Jose Alvarado? Remember the way he likes to sneak up behind the competition and snatch the ball from unexpecting hands? He’s still there. And he’s still doing that crap.
Weekly Prediction: 1-2
I changed the rules this past week. Originally I had provided a preview for four games, but due to the back-to-back with San Antonio and Dallas, It was bumped to five games. That being said, my words rang true for the first four:
I’m predicting 3-1, however, because we all know weird things happen in the NBA. Foul discrepancy, a turned ankle, an off night. Too many factors can equate to a loss.
That’s exactly what happened against the Rockets.
How about this week? As mentioned above, it’s a tough one. Boston is a machine. New Orleans has talent — and revenge on their minds. Be prepared for a frustrating week of Suns basketball.
What will the Suns record be this week?
This poll is closed
I'm not quite sure how I feel as the Suns enter this segment of the season. Like the holidays, I'm grateful. We’re exceeding expectations. But, again like the holidays, I know what lies ahead. Stress. Frustration. And hopefully surprise.
No matter what, I’m appreciative to watch quality basketball on a consistent basis. See you on the other side of next week.