Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
First up, the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Author’s Note: Questions were sent out to the FT members before Miami and Toronto games were played.
Q1 - JaVale McGee’s stats have slipped lately and some fans have called for Monty to move Bismack Biyombo up to the #2 man in the Suns’ center rotation. What are your thoughts on this idea?
GuarGuar: I think Biz in certain matchups should absolutely be in over JaVale. Biz is a more versatile defender and can move laterally way better than JaVale. Teams with elite guards have abused JaVale in pick and rolls this year and that has been a consistent problem. Certain matchups though JaVale can have a major impact on the glass and scoring.
Sun-Arc: McGee is still a better player and fit over Biyombo at this time, even with his lower recent stats. First off, he’s enormously tall and long while Biz is listed at 6’ 8”, which gives him a greater rim presence. Bizzy is a bit more flexible defensively, particularly on the perimeter - but he also cannot shoot from more than 5 feet from the rim. JaVale can provide that kind of offense, and even hit a three now and again (8 so far this season). I think he fits with the team’s goals a bit better.
That is not to say that I do not want to see Biyombo receive minutes. I enjoy watching him hustle. I just think McGee is an overall more impactful player. He rebounds at a higher TRB%, has a higher DBPM and OBPM, DWS, and PER (23.6 vs 19.6).
SouthernSun: I believe the two are pretty much interchangeable. Biyombo might be the move, though, if the Suns are looking to keep one of the two of them around. Biyombo is younger so could be this decent longer and might be a guy who could stick with the team for awhile. But McGee was playing really really well for quite some time, so, its difficult.
Alex S: I am not calling for any changes. First of all…what is the Suns record in comparison to the rest of the league…? It it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Secondly, the one thing I *could* advocate for is getting JaVale some DNPs when it comes to back to backs for the sake of keeping him fresh. With the #1 overall seed essentially a lock at this rate, I want to see our vets get some time off when the time is right. He and Jae the main two I’m speaking on as Chris is getting his time away as we speak. But McGee has constantly performed and I’m not going to sway away from him at this juncture.
Rod: In the six games before the Miami game (in which McGee had a very good night) he was averaging just 4 points and 4 rebounds per game so I can see why some people were wanting Biyombo to get a shot as DA’s backup. His shooting was off a bit during that time but he also was playing fewer minutes than usual (10.8 mins vs his 15.6 season average) and like everyone else was getting used to playing with no CP3 and or no Cam Payne on the floor. I’m not certain that Biz would have played that much better than JaVale under the circumstances and it seems pretty obvious that Monty felt the same as he stuck with JM coming off the bench.
As we saw in the Miami game, the JaVale we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the court finally reappeared with an 11 point, 15 rebound double-double in just 15.5 minutes. McGee had a bad stretch of games before that. It happens. I think Monty was sure that it was eventually going to happen too and didn’t want to further disrupt his already injury disrupted rotations by sitting McGee and going with Biyombo and I agree with his decision.
Q2 - The Suns were 1-2 with CP3 and Cam Payne out. Following the Orlando game, they were 3-1 with CP3 and Booker out. They’re small sample sizes but what does that all suggest to you?
GuarGuar: It just shows how deep and good this team is. We aren’t a contender just because we added Chris Paul. Or because we have Devin Booker. We have 7 really good players on our team. We have a great coaching staff and a phenomenal culture. We fight hard almost every game.
Sun-Arc: The better play with CP15 in means there was a better starting point guard in those games. As simple as that. But also a bit of the team having more time to get used to not having CP3 around. Payne and Shamet have really come on stronger since Paul’s injury, which has also helped. I knew they would at some point.
SouthernSun: They were playing with the spirit of Chris Paul, of course. Just kidding. Mostly. Because granted, if there’s any star in the NBA who is almost as valuable in the locker room and huddles as he is on the court, it’s CP3. But yeah Cam Johnson and Mikal really stepped up there for a bit. Ayton had a few good games too. They played surprisingly well without them. But we’re also in March, which is historically not a time when you’re always getting everyone’s best.
Alex S: What it suggests is that as long as one of CP3 or CP15 are available, the Suns are a top-notch level team. Without both, you’re depending on Point Book and some janky lineups which would make the team still formidable, but not top notch.
This also suggests that Payne could be the long-term solution at starting PG if you’re able to retain him a team-friendly deal again.
Rod: There were of course other factors (other players out during some of those games) but having Book play point guard just allows other teams to focus on him even more when they know he’s the primary ball handler and scorer. Book can play point and can be good at it but his best position is shooting guard. Playing him at the point should be saved for brief periods at unexpected times so that other teams don’t have the opportunity to game plan for it. The Suns had little choice in those games with CP3 and Payne both out and pretty much no other choice in the game against the Pelicans when Aaron Holiday was also injured though.
And all of that’s not intended as a knock on Book. The Suns are just better when they have a real PG playing the position and everyone is playing their accustomed roles/natural positions on the court. The only bad thing about playing Book at PG is that you can’t also have Book playing at SG with him.
Q3 - As a two-way player, Ish Wainright won’t be eligible to play in the playoffs. To convert his two-way into a standard contract (which would make him eligible) the Suns would have to waive someone else to create an open roster spot. Do you think that Suns might consider doing that and who would be the most likely player waived to create a spot for him?
GuarGuar: I don’t think we should cut anyone to make Ish eligible to play in the playoffs. If Frank is unable to return then maybe him but aside from that I think we will be fine without Ish come playoff time. I would be surprised if we cut anyone to make room for Ish. Only other scenario I can think of would be if Elf becomes unhappy and wants to go somewhere he will play.
Sun-Arc: Definitely Payton would appear to be the guy that would be waived. But I’m not 100% sure the team will not let Wainright go in the end in order to keep Elf and have yet another guy that can run the team. Hard to say.
I do not see them waiving Kaminsky, who would be next in line. I think they want to keep him for the playoffs.
SouthernSun: I have no idea. I don’t think they’d waive anyone who is currently not injured. Maaaaaaaaybe Payton? They just picked up Torrey Craig, so Ish isn’t exactly a priority for them now I don't think.
Alex S: I think with the addition of Torrey Craig, that eliminates Ish from the playoff group. The one player who fans would point to as a cut candidate would be Elfrid Payton but I actually think his size and defense could be useful in a two-minute spurt. A sleeper for cutting? Frank Kaminsky due to the Bismack addition.
I still believe Ish will end up being the choice though.
Rod: I think it’s going to come down to one thing... the team’s health at the end of the season. If everyone is healthy when April 10 rolls around, Ish is most likely sitting out the playoffs. If Kaminsky doesn’t get healthy by then, I think it’s very possible that he could get waived to make room for someone - possibly Ish - that can actually play if needed. And if someone else - especially one our wings - is injured shortly before the playoffs begin, even if they’re likely to return at some point, either Frank or Elfrid Payton could be waived to make room.
I don’t believe the Suns are likely to waive anyone to make room for Ish if the rest of the team is healthy but I also can see circumstances where it could be a possibility.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!
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Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Will this Suns team wind up with the best record ever (63 wins or more)?”
44% - Yes.
09% - No.
47% - I don’t care. Winning a Championship is all that matters.
A total of 360 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
The video below (added at 12:35 pm PT today) might be worth watching before voting in this week’s poll.
The work continues for Chris Paul pic.twitter.com/vlCdlyuTiB— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) March 12, 2022
CP3 was expected to be out 6-8 weeks with his thumb injury. When do you believe he’ll return?
This poll is closed
6-8 weeks as expected.
Earlier than expected.
Later than expected.